"This doesn't work," Jennifer McCormick says, indicating the stacks of cardboard boxes and craft detritus crowding her. This is the official sorting room for Texas Art Asylum — a place that describes itself as "part craft store, part thrift store, part salvage yard and part antique store" — where artist-led workshops and classes are supposed to be held.
The boxes are filled with goods donated by local individuals and businesses, everything from half-squeezed tubes of acrylic paint to plaster dental molds to vintage cigar boxes to baby doll parts, all of which are sorted, priced and re-sold to artists and crafters for creative reuse projects.
The room has long since been too stuffed, the tabletops overcrowded, to host a proper workshop, but things are about to change: Texas Art Asylum is moving to a bigger, better home just east of downtown in Feb. 2013.
Texas Art Asylum is moving to a bigger, better home just east of downtown in Feb. 2013.
A 6,000 square foot space at 1719 Live Oak Street will combine the retail store (currently housed in the small, brightly-painted, filled-to-the-brim building on Houston Avenue and Dart Street) and the Center for Recycled Art, Texas Art Asylum's 501(c)3 nonprofit arm that offers programs for teachers and children's groups. The latter has long been leasing out a work space at MECA.
Having both branches under the same roof will ease workflow by avoiding cross-city supply trips, says Ramona Brady, who co-founded Texas Art Asylum with McCormick in May of 2010 — but it also means much more for the company.
The new space will be better organized, more clearly delineated and "less of an obstacle course," with an in-house gallery to showcase the work of local artists, a possible space in the back that will be rented out as a studio and plenty of storage for "the mountain" of donated goods.
"We want to be able to do all of the things that we initially planned to do," Brady tells CultureMap, noting that the task before the pair is "Herculean." Take one look at the retail store and you'll see that's no exaggeration: It's positively overflowing with second-hand treasures, a true hoarder's dream.
The Center for Recycled Art will move into the EaDo space first, followed by Texas Art Asylum during the last two weeks of January. Though they won't be taking donations in the meantime, Brady laughs, "We need boxes — boxes with nothing in them."