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Installation view of Latin American Art galleries | Courtesy of the Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
Installation view of Latin American Art galleries | Courtesy of the Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin

Must-See Austin Gallery Shows in 2017

Picture of Hannah Phillips
Updated: 11 May 2017

Austin’s art scene is hopping—a new gallery or studio seems to pop up every year, renewing the city’s commitment to producing and showcasing local talent. From annual events to traveling exhibitions, below is a list of gallery shows you must see in 2017.

West Austin Studio Tour

May 13–14 & 20–21, 2017

With the ongoing success of the East program, Big Medium launched a sister tour in West Austin six years ago, and it spans two weekends in May. The studios are more central than West, with boundaries defined as west of I-35, east of Mopac/Loop 1, south of HWY 183, and north of William Cannon. This year over 300 artists will participate, with 176 working studios and 50 established galleries on display, as well as 88 temporary exhibitions and nine happenings.

Multiple locations in Austin, TX, USA

Gabe Leonard: The Way Things Get Done

April 29 – May 28, 2017

Gabe Leonard brings his fourth annual exhibition to Austin, displaying his work at Art on 5th for one month only. Based in California, Leonard’s internationally acclaimed oil paintings of outlaws and sharpshooters can be found in the collections of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. The Way Things Get Done will feature new original work on canvas, oil studies, hand-embellished artist proofs, and limited edition giclees. You won’t want to miss him at the opening reception on Saturday, April 29th, from 7–10 pm.

Art on 5th, 3005 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 481 1111

Crackshot, hand-embellished giclee on canvas | Courtesy of Art on 5th

Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser

Until June 11, 2017

Not even a month passed between the Blanton’s highly anticipated reopening of its permanent gallery and the launch of its new, temporary exhibit, Curiouser. This collection is the first touring museum exhibition of Katchadourian’s work, exploring 10 major bodies of work from the Brooklyn-based artist. Along with video, sculpture, sound art, and a live performance, photography is central to the exhibition—especially in Seat Assignment, an extensive ongoing body of photographs and videos the artist created with her mobile phone.

Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 471 7324

Photo by Colin Doyle | Courtesy of the Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin.

Collectors Show

May 20 – June 18, 2017

Starting with an opening reception on May 20th, Collectors Show will celebrate local collectors that champion art on a personal level. One of Austin’s leading art galleries, grayDUCK has invited several local collectors to share favorite pieces from their homes, offering the public a rare opportunity to view works signifying a lifelong commitment to the arts, and the artists that have ignited their passion for collecting.

grayDUCK, 2213 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 826 5334

Gray Duck Gallery interior | Courtesy of grayDUCK Gallery

Sebastián: The Geometry of Space and Time

Until June 25, 2017

Now on display at the Mexic-Arte Museum on Congress, this colorful study combines pop art with the abstract forms of minimalism. World-renowned Mexican sculptor Sebastián (born Enrique Carbajal González in Chihuahua, Mexico) is mainly known for his monumental structures in cities like San Antonio, Texas and Osaka, Japan, and this exhibition marks the first time his work is on display in Austin.

Mexic-Art Museum, 419 Congress Ave, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 480 9373

Mark Lewis: Galveston

Until August 27, 2017

After viewing Jim Hodges’s outside installation (see below), step inside the Jones Center to view the film Galveston from the London-based artist, Mark Lewis. Originally trained as a photographer, Lewis’s works are visual meditations—soundless, non-narrative studies of the modern urban environment. His latest subject is the gulf city of Galveston, with the iconic white skyscraper of One Moody Tower as a recurring theme.

The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, 700 Congress Ave, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 453 5312

Mark Lewis, Galveston (still), 2017. Video. Commissioned by The Contemporary Austin. Artwork and image © Mark Lewis | Courtesy Mark Lewis Studio and Daniel Faria Gallery

East Austin Studio Tour

November 11–12 & 18–19, 2017

Sara Lathan’s “Golden Glow” from EAST 2015 | Courtesy of Sarah Lathan

Big Medium’s free annual self-guided art event returns this year for its 16th installment, spanning two weekends in November. A non-profit organization, Big Medium dedicates itself “to championing and cultivating artists and the contemporary arts in Austin and across Texas.” Their popular program EAST is one of the biggest art events of the year, providing the public an opportunity to meet the local artists, such as Sara Lathan, and artisans of Austin in their creative spaces.

The People’s Gallery

Until early January 2018

Displayed throughout the first three floors of the Austin City Hall, this free, annual exhibition—designed to encourage public dialogue, understanding, and enjoyment of visual art—showcases the work of local and regional (Central Texas) artists. One highlight is Queen by Vy Ngo, an emerging contemporary artist all Austinites should know. The gallery is on view Monday through Friday from 8 am–5 pm until early January 2018.

Austin City Hall, 301 W 2nd St, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 974 7700

Jim Hodges: With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress)


Inspired by the overlooked corners of everyday life, human impermanence and fragility run central to the work of Jim Hodges, whose installation With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress) has already provided a poignant backdrop to many of the Texas capital’s recent political rallies. The seven-foot-tall (2.1 meters) letters span two sides of The Contemporary Austin’s Moody Rooftop at the Jones Center.

The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, 700 Congress Ave, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 453 5312

UMLAUF After Dark

May 2, 2017 – Ongoing

The UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum recently debuted their monthly “after dark” program, with free admission after hours from 6–8 pm. The program returns Tuesday, May 2nd, and will repeat every first Tuesday of the month, offering visitors a chance to experience the special evening environment of the sculpture garden, featured gallery exhibitions, plus monthly themed activities, food, and entertainment. During the May date, there will be free evening yoga classes and local refreshments.

UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum, 605 Robert E Lee Rd, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 445 5582

The Blanton Permanent Collection


For over a year, museum workers at UT Austin’s Blanton Museum stayed busy cleaning, restoring, and reconstructing the entire layout of the gallery’s permanent collection. The museum revealed the bright new layout in February 2017, with white temporary walls in one of the main vaulted corridors allowing more of the collection’s 18,000 works to be on display. European paintings now hang thematically rather than chronologically, and as always, the living installation Stacked Waters by Teresita Fernandez continues to make the Blanton worth revisiting again and again.

Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 471 7324

Installation view of Latin American Art Galleries | Courtesy of the Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin