Growing Our Garden in Austin, TX
Four springs ago, my life partner, Javi, and I officially became business partners at the Javier López Cantú Artworkstudio. Our romantic relationship began in 2006 when a mutual friend suggested that we get together for coffee. She told me that Javi was a big supporter of her sexuality education non-profit, and that he was also doing an amazing job raising two teenage daughters.
When I saw his vibrant website at JavierLopezCantu.com, I knew that I wanted to know the man and father behind the art. I bypassed the meet-for-coffee plan and immediately emailed him to ask for a tour of his Artworkstudio – located on South Congress at the time. There’s more to our love-at-first sight story, and I’m happy to share. But let’s just say that the rest is history – and includes a lot of tasty homemade breakfast tacos (which are a Javi specialty).
Austin has been fertile ground for many artists, and Javi has been creating art here since 1999. What I didn’t realize when we met is how challenging it can be for a community to know how to support its local artists. I also didn’t realize how challenging it can be for artists to know how to meet the community members who will and can support them.
What happens when you have a gorgeous garden, but no one comes to see it? What happens when people come to see and enjoy it, but don’t know how to help the gardener sustain it?
Javi is passionate about making his art accessible to all – especially by making it affordable.
Javi and our youngest daughter
As Javi says:
“Each artwork has its home, and when a person sees the piece that grasps their heart and squeezes, I want to do everything I can to support that artwork findings its way to its true home.”
Planting A Seed
When we decided to deepen our roots by planting the seed of co-ownership in the fertile garden that is his Artworkstudio, I was committed to create as many opportunities for friends, family and our community to see Javi’s gorgeous garden of artwork.
I lovingly planted this seed with hope and a prayer for abundance to sustain and grow his work as a artist while also growing our family. We dreamed that, together, we would be able to blossom Javi’s mission to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world.
The Challenges & Joys of Growing a Garden
Four springs later, I know a lot more about the art business, and a lot more about my life and business partner. Believe me when I say it is not always easy to work with your life partner! And yet, planting these seeds at the Artworkstudio have been powerful for us as a family, and in our communities. I have learned from Javi that there is power in following your passion.
After a few (very challenging) years of Javi trying to create art in a makeshift studio in the garage, we uprooted his art supplies and original paintings and relocated the Artworkstudio to a lovely space in East Austin with a courtyard.
Courtyard at JLC Artworkstudio during EAST
In this physical space and online, we have experimented with new business ideas and strategies. We have also had the opportunity to visit over 25 art museums in the US, Canada and the UK.
We have been proud participants of the annual East Austin Studio Tour (EAST). We have forayed into the art event world with Art on the Roof benefits for non-profits in Austin and Boston. We have donated art, prints and gift certificates to non-profits doing great work around the country. Most recently, we have embarked on hosting the collaborative community art event – Courtyard Artworks – this spring with Wade ArtRoom and art therapist DeAnn Acton.
Can you blossom without passion?
Clearly, we have a garden with deep roots and some lovely blossoms. What we didn’t have was an Art Business Manager – that would be me – who knew what her own passion was. I don’t know about you, but it’s a challenge for me to support another person – even my life partner – as they follow their passion when you don’t know yours.
It created conflict as Javi watched me withering while trying – and failing – to nurture our Artworkstudio garden. With the conflict came frustration, decreased inspiration, and a need to step back from this particular garden to focus on other parts of our life. When does a gardener know that it’s time to pause or move to a new garden, to find new soil and new seeds to plant?
I knew I had been planting lots of seeds throughout my life, but it never occurred to me that I had been planting a professional garden. For example, Javi has known that he was an artist since he was 3, illustrating the family encyclopedias with his drawings. I’ve always been good at lots of things, and been proud of all the good work I’ve done in the world with schools and non-profits. But what passion did I have that could ever match Javi’s passion for creating art?
Planting Another Garden
What happened next surprised both of us. And it all started with a few conversations.
Last year, I planted a new batch of seeds, and my passion bloomed – right along with the creation of our much-anticipated second child.
I coordinated and facilitated a comprehensive sex ed class for middle and high school students at our church – aptly named Wildflower Church.
Then, with Javi’s blessing and support, I attended a conference in California, while hugely pregnant, and had a conversation. Then I went to another conference in Austin, as a new mama leaking with milk, and had another conversation.
Then I had lunch with a former colleague, with our 6 month old baby in my arms, and had another conversation.
These conversational seeds quickly blossomed into joining the Board of The Human Empathy Project.
After all of these conversations, my passion for amplifying the conversation around diverse sexuality and gender became clear.
In September 2014, I officially launched my business From Censored to Celebrated where I explore diverse sexuality and gender – one (webcasted) conversation at a time.
Click here for more info about my joyful work with #Censored2Celebrated.
The crazy thing is that although I am busier than ever with 1 life and business partner, 2 young kids and 3 businesses to nurture, I feel myself blooming with happiness and purpose. Connecting with my professional passion, right along with the birth of our second daughter, has felt like vibrant abundance.
Celebratory Art Created at Courtyard Artworks
In and around all of this vibrancy, I have reconnected to my strong desire to support Javi in his passion as an artist. As a team, we have reengaged with our mission to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world. We are especially excited to connect with other local artists and the East Austin community through the collaborative Courtyard Artworks events this spring.
Growing our Garden at Home
On top of all of this springtime growth and blooming, I have actually gardened for the first time since I first moved to Austin as a single woman in 2004. I keep wondering if all this professional seed planting has been the inspiration to plant our own vegetable, herb and wildflower garden with the kids. Regardless, I cannot wait to see what our gardens will grow this year and into the future.
What’s Growing in Your Garden?
As you may be able to tell, I am all about the conversation. The blooms resulting from such conversations inspire me to do good in the world. I invite you to connect with me to see what celebrations will be sparked by our conversation.
1. What’s growing in your personal and professional gardens?
2. What makes art, and artists, feel accessible to you?
3. What makes you want to celebrate your passion?
I invite you to come and enjoy our Artworkstudio garden this May. I look forward to hearing all about your garden.
When you RSVP here, and private message or email me, I will have a specially chosen, complimentary JLC Art card with your name on it at the event.
- RSVPs are requested so we can ensure having plenty of art supplies and snacks for all.
- The event is free to community members of all ages.
Finally, I want to give a BIG thank you to each and every one of you that supports Javi and other local artists, musicians, dancers, celebrators and all kinds of creative types. Our gardens are inspired by our connection and conversations with each of you, and grow abundantly because of your support.
WHAT IS JLC*ART?
The Javier López Cantú Artworkstudio mission is to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world. Javi’s work may be purchased in a variety of formats to fit your budget: original paintings, posters, art cards and with donations to benefit a non-profit that is a difference-maker in its community.
We invite you to opt-in for
JLC Artworkstudio news & special offers by email.
Click here for interviews with the artist