POP Austin: A SXSW Spark Materializes


Matt Randall conceived the idea for POP Austin during SXSW while walking with friends (including POP Austin curator Lana Carlson), from 6th street to Cesar Chavez. “We bought the POP Austin domain that night” says Randall, Executive Director.

POP Austin is an international art event taking place this weekend, October 17-19th, at Fair Market, featuring works by renowned artists Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami, Mr. Brainwash, Shepard Fairey and more, plus celebrated emerging Austin artists, Bale Creek Allen and Jason Archer. A total of 150 works of art being flown in from Paris, New York City and beyond.

I spoke to Randall about what people can expect from the three-day show and why he wanted to bring this event to Austin.

Sound Dessert: You’re a former model, how did you move from modeling to the visual arts?

Matt Randall: When we came to Austin there wasn’t an intention to do anything in the visual arts movement. I don’t claim to be an expert from that side of it. What I saw was a disconnect in Austin from the visual artists to the collector. It was a unique problem that presented itself to me.

I didn’t have the resources to get this art but I knew the opportunity existed. When I met Lana Carlson, our curator, who absolutely has resources – she lived in Paris for 12 years and had a gallery there – when I presented her with the idea she loved it. Me being in Austin the last five years I thought, “how can we enhance what’s being done in Austin already but keep an Austin feeling to it?” We’re hand selecting a number of Austin artists to show their work among an international crowd in hopes to elevate their brand. In hopes to help enhance what’s being done in Austin already from the visual arts market. That was the idea.

Every installation that you see around town has an Austin vibe to it. The popsicle on South Congress and Cesar Chavez is done by GoodPop and Art Seen Alliance – they build these and do an incredible job. Our idea is at all five installations around town we have “gallery tags” that tell the stories of the artist and the piece. That lives. We hope they live a long time, indefinitely around town. I’d love in five years for this to be an international show and there’s 30 of these pop ups all around town.

SD: Who’s doing the other public installations?

MR: Austin artists doing the murals are Jason Archer, Alex Roka and Eric Pieper, Tony Diaz is doing a mural as well. Art Seen Alliance made the GoodPop popsicle. At POP Austin you’re going to see popsicles passed out in the space in a really unique way. All five senses are curated when you walk into the space.

More Is Not Enough_POP Austin installation 3

Tony Diaz, More Is Not Enough

SD: What made you want to focus on pop art?

MR: Where pop Austin comes from is a pop-up art show. It’s here for three days and it’s gone. It pops up out of nowhere and it leaves. With us we wanted to come in and do a big promotion, big three day event, bring it down and it will pop up at another time.

SD: How did you select the pieces being shown?

MR: A lot of that is in Lana’s hands. She’s hand-selecting artists that have the potential to scale. If you’re going to invest, these are great artists to invest in. We’ve selected artists that we believe truly will grow.

SD: Were most pieces sourced from private collections?

MR: A lot of artists we’re working with directly, dealers we’re working with, and private collectors. If you purchase art and you want to come back, I want to give you an opportunity to sell that work again and create that collector community in Austin. When I approached this to Lana she said, “you can’t do that.” And I said “Why can’t you do that” and she said “because no ones ever done that before.” And I was like “let’s do it, why not.” The idea is how do we create this culture, this community in Austin that not only feeds itself but initiates collecting and artists wanting to create a career in Austin. That’s the goal.


Beb Deum, Chinese Series

SD: Do you have any favorite pieces at the show?

MR: Absolutely. There are some incredible pieces I’m so excited for people to see. The Austin artists have done some of their best work for the show because they’re so excited about it. The political answer would be that I love all the artists but there’s one piece that if I could afford it I would absolutely have it, and that’s a piece by Gerard Rancinan out of Paris. It’s incredible.

SD: What are some topics being discussed at Pop Talks?

MR: On Saturday and Sunday we have Pop Talks. That’s our educational platform by influential people in Austin, specialists in the art world, and the artists themselves. Everything from the Chinese contemporary movement, to people talking about the first time they bought art, to where people see the art market movement heading. We’re trying to hit every point of the Austin and global art movement

SD: What’s your vision for growth in Austin?

MR: In time that we’re able to grow artists brands and have outside cities look at Austin as a cultural city not only in music but in visual arts. It takes a village to build this and we’re really excited about all of our partners.

SD: Beyoncé was recently named Time’s most influential person, whose a pop culture figure that you personally consider influential?

MR: The one person I’ve always looked up to, that I’ve always had a lot of appreciation for – how he runs companies, how he motivates people, how he empowers people – is Richard Branson.

SD: Why should people invest in art?

MR: That’s a question for everyone to answer themselves. Our focus is how do we create awareness and intrigue around the art. If that gets people to invest, than that’s amazing.

SD: What advice do you have for the young professional whose interested in buying art for the first time?
MR: Buy what you love but make a smart educated buy. Art should inspire us and we hope to bring that into people’s lives. We’d love for the Austin to grab a hold of it.

Purchase tickets to POP Austin here.

Photos via Juice Consulting.

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