For nearly 20 years, ART on 5th has exhibited a diverse collection of work, from Salvador Dalí to Andy Warhol, and everything in between. The gallery opened on West 5th Street in the spring of 1998. Owner and founder Joe Sigel had been in the art business since the early 1990s and opened the gallery to fill a niche in the contemporary art market that he felt was lacking in Austin at the time. From the beginning, ART on 5th has been committed to representing an eclectic variety of accessible fine art that Austinites are immediately drawn to. ART on 5th is constantly changing their display of featured artists to attract new visitors and keep the gallery fresh. With multiple artists receptions and events each month, even for frequent visitors there is always something new to see or experience.
One permanent fixture in the gallery is the The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss; an exclusive estate-authorized collection of fine art reproductions adapted from Theodor Seuss Geisel’s original drawings, paintings and sculptures. Ted Geisel’s original works are safely kept in the family home he shared with his wife, Audrey Geisel, who at age 95 still controls the estate and oversees the publication and reproduction of the originals. Gallery Director Todd Gresley, explains how this remarkable collection came to be at ART on 5th: “The owner had the foresight to begin purchasing these limited edition Seuss pieces in bulk when the estate first started releasing them back in the 90’s. As a result, we still have some very rare pieces that you just can’t find any more, not even in the Seuss collection at the San Diego History Center.” Despite the incredible popularity of his work, original Dr. Seuss artworks rarely, if ever, become available for sale. One of the jewels of ART on 5th’s incredible collection is an original concept sketch for Geisel’s famous Flit insecticide advertisement; it is one of the most valuable pieces hanging in the gallery.
In addition to the fantastic variety of artwork, the custom framing department at ART on 5th has a well-deserved reputation for impeccable design sense and attention to detail. With over 3,500 frame samples to choose from, it is safe to say they are able to create the perfect frame for every artwork and aesthetic. They apply original design concepts to the framing that no one else in town offers, which makes every art piece look incredible. Each frame is masterfully chosen to accentuate the unique qualities in each piece of art. This distinctive approach to design and quality is apparent even to casual visitors to the gallery; hand-wrapped linen mats are used instead of colored paper mats, Kevlar cords replace braided wire, and anti-glare acrylic replaces the standard glass. The diverse selection of materials and museum-quality processes utilized by their shop makes ART on 5th the largest and most capable custom framer in Austin.
In 2013, ART on 5th made a big move to the newly booming neighborhood of South Lamar. Surrounded by local Austin favorites such as Kerbey Lane Café and Torchy’s Tacos, the gallery fits right into its new home. The gallery’s bright and spacious 7,000 square foot interior is a stunning maze of art where visitors can easily lose themselves exploring the many vignettes of posters, paintings, and sculpture. Since reinventing themselves in their South Lamar location, the gallery has put on such spectacular shows as The Fine Art of Star Wars, and Salvador DalÍ. With over 3,000 people in one evening, and a line that stretched around the building, the DalÍ exhibition in early 2016 was the largest gallery or museum opening reception in the history of Austin. In addition to these blockbuster exhibits, ART on 5th is constantly rotating smaller-scale shows featuring contemporary local and international artists, and occasionally hosts live painting demonstrations by visiting artists such as Adam Scott Rote, Ben Mosley, and Isabelle Dupuy.
When asked what it is that makes ART on 5th stand out, Gresley says “Not only are we constantly improving ourselves as a gallery, we’re also reinventing the idea of what fine art is. We make a point of having a little bit of something for everyone, with art that reaches all price points. We give experimental artists a chance, which is unusual thing to see from a retail gallery; like with our Bombay Sapphire show in October, which is juried show of local artists many of whom have never had a chance to show their work in a space like this before. But we’re also recreating the idea of the artist reception, which is no longer just your run-of-the-mill wine and cheese and art evening. Here, we’re reaching all your other senses, too. At most of our events we serve local craft cocktails, which we try to pair thematically with the work, for instance moonshine with Gabe Leonard’s most recent Prohibition Era gangsters and gamblers series.” Music is also a very important part of the ART on 5th experience. Gresley hand-selects the music to set the atmosphere for viewing art in the gallery, and even creates new playlists specifically to match the artwork for featured events. “We’re even trying to affect your tactile senses by bringing in new sculptures and 3-dimensional artwork that can’t easily be displayed on a wall,” explains Gresley. “But please don’t touch!,” he says with a wink, “Buy it first.”
Gallery Hours and Location
Monday through Saturday 10am – 6pm
Sundays Noon – 5pm
Admission is always free.
3005 South Lamar Blvd
Suite C 110 B
Austin, Texas 78704
Between Kerbey Lane Café and Torchy’s Tacos