Pastelegram offers insight into artistic process through magazine, yard sale

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(From left to right) Chelsea Weathers, Allison Myers, Josh Conrad and Ariel Evans are the creators of Pastelegram, a nonprofit arts organization that releases online and print magazines.
Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

Failed artwork, sketches and used tools are most often found in the dusty corners of art studios. But this weekend, customers at the Mobile Artists’ Yard Sale will have the opportunity to purchase such items for $50 or less.

The Yard Sale is the brainchild of the editors of Pastelegram, a nonprofit arts organization that releases multiple online magazines as well as one annual print issue. The magazine has a special focus on the often-overlooked materials that influence or contribute to an artist’s work. UT alumnus Josh Conrad, the designer and co-founder of Pastelegram, said the value of the objects changes depending on how they are presented.

“When you take the stuff that the artists are just throwing out and you put them in a different context, like a yard sale, it suddenly becomes more interesting,” Conrad said. “It looks cooler. People want it. It’s just if it’s in the right place.”

Pastelegram began in 2011 when art history graduate student Ariel Evans and Conrad began collaborating with artists to create an art website and magazine. Evans said she felt the urge to create a magazine after taking a class on View, a literary and art magazine from the 1940s.

“I realized how much magazines tell us about what artists are doing, what they’re looking at, what they’re interested in,” Evans said. “That kind of discourse wasn’t really available in the art magazines of today.”

Since Pastelegram’s inception, UT alumna Chelsea Weathers and art history graduate student Allison Myers have joined Evans as editors of the magazine, while Conrad continues to maintain the website. The editors commission artists to create original pieces for the magazine, then work with the artists to incorporate archives and other influences into the content. Myers said the collaborative focus of the magazine is the most rewarding part of her job.

“Oftentimes in art history and graduate school in general, you work and you work alone constantly on this big thing,” Myers said. “To have something where you can work with people and have this finished project feels
really great.”

The Yard Sale began last spring as part of Pastelegram’s larger goal of hosting more live events. This year, the Pastelegram editors are bringing their wares to both weekends of the East Austin Studio Tour, which runs through this weekend. To complete the feel of a typical yard sale, a cutout of a quaint house typically acts as a backdrop, and green artificial grass covers the pavement. Conrad said the editors curated the objects in the hopes of providing
insight into the creative process.

“We went through the studios of people that we knew and that we worked with on our magazine and just pulled all that art that they did when they were young: sketches, weird stuff that they’re still holding onto and can’t throw out because it’s too precious to them,” Conrad said. “We’re really interested in making that connection between the artists and the object.”

Pastelegram’s lineup of live events also includes Performance Tapes, a series of screenings of performances from the 1960s to present day, and release parties for their print issues. Myers said she believes the process of making a print issue is still important, despite the prevalence of online content.

“Online is very fluid and easy, but the print issue makes us slow down and really think about how we are presenting these pieces of information,” Myers said.  “Thinking about images and texts in that layout format really just requires something totally different than online. To produce a material thing feels significant.”