Bryer told Michelle he did not want to keep looking at the painting.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we saved up some money and bought a painting for our new place?’,” Bryer said. “I got excited. I was like, ‘We’re going to go to all the galleries; we’re going to look at everything.’”
Bryer and his now-wife saved up $600, but found nothing the couple could afford at local galleries.
“A lot of the galleries didn’t have prices on the art,” Bryer said. “This could be $10, it could be $1,000 ... If you have to ask, then you can’t afford it.”
As they searched, Bryer thought about his longtime friend and artist Joel Ganucheau. When the two attended Texas State University together, Ganucheau worked out of a humble garage studio, but Bryer found his work better than many paintings in the galleries.
Bryer called his friend and asked if he had ever shown his work in a gallery. Ganucheau had not. Bryer realized that few of the talented artists he’d known over the years ever displayed their work in galleries.
“I thought, ‘Why isn’t there a place for emerging artists in Austin?’” Bryer recalled. “A place where artists can show their work and sell it for a reasonable price, and people that don’t have a million dollars can support local artists and buy something more affordable?”
As the pair talked, the idea for Austin Art Garage came into focus. Bryer, a former advertising executive who said he left the field due to its drain on his creativity, imagined a down-to-earth space that would contain a colorful, thriving art hub.
When he and Ganucheau found an old lumberyard down a dirt drive off South Lamar Boulevard, Bryer thought it was perfect.
“I love the unassuming experience,” Bryer said. “The idea of walking down a dirt road, and finding an art gallery.”
Since 2007, Austin Art Garage has brought emerging artists into the spotlight. The gallery features over 200 original artworks made by a rotation of about 100 local artists. Prints and original paintings are available in store and online, and they can be shipped all over the country.
Bryer and Ganucheau each have a wall inside Austin Art Garage showcasing their artwork. Ganucheau still paints, while Bryer makes mostly composite photography and digital mixed media pieces. While some artists have turned to selling art on social media, Bryer said the studio still has value.
“It’s not going to be the one thing that does it all for an artist, but it can be a significant catalyst for them,” Bryer said. “It gives them a lot of exposure.”
Austin Art Garage features:
- 3 showrooms
- Over 200 original artworks
- 100 local artists on rotation
- 80% of inventory under $500
Austin Art Garage
2200 S. Lamar Blvd., Unit J, Austin
Hours: Tue. appointment only, Wed.-Fri. noon-6 p.m., Sat.-Sun. noon-5 p.m., Mon. closed