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Educate, Inform, and Connect Series: Meet Luis Angulo, owner of Something Cool Studios in East Austin

Reference Source: Clarion Alley, San Francisco

Luis: Artist, Business Owner and Curator of more beautiful alleyways

By Ryan Saunders-

The story I want to tell shows the sometimes complicated but necessary relationship between art and real estate.

Today, the topic of interest is an Alleyway improvement project but the path to get there takes you through the journey of an artist and how he and his neighborhood grew together.

Introducing Luis also known as Uloang, owner of Something Cool Studios on E Cesar Chavez in East Austin. Below you will find much more detail about Luis’s journey and how his career as an artist many times ran parallel with real estate. 

His next initiative has the ability to make a huge impact within the East Cesar Chavez and Holly neighborhoods bringing new life to Alleyways. While alleyways serve functionality for trash pick up and driveway entrances it also is a place that provides cover for crime and drug use.

Through bringing art to the alley he also aims to raise funds for lighting and landscaping to encourage the alleys to be more pedestrian and bike friendly as well as a cultural centerpoint.  The goal is to provide the opportunity for people to both celebrate the cultural history of the neighborhood and an opportunity to show both locals and tourists the abundance of artistic talents within our city.

In 2014 he became the inaugural participant in SprayATX ignite project which provided him free studio space for a month and mentorship. Once his time was up he converted to a paying tenant to keep his studio and saw the opportunity to turn it into something bigger, ultimately taking over the lease and bringing in more artists thus he was then the operator of his own art studio complex.

The building was in disrepair and needed new life so when a developer purchased the property, he provided cool businesses with 5 year leases with below market rents. In hearing this story it could be easy to think that this is another example of how a developer rides the urge of artists to come to distressed areas due to necessity because of low rents and then converting that into a more formal and financially beneficial development area. 

What I hear is that this developer did its job. They provided 5 year leases with cheap rent to cool businesses which allowed them to gain their footing and then advance to forge their own path which ultimately provided further benefit to the neighborhood in the form of Luis buying a building and once again owning his own art collective and multiple art studios.

How I met Luis

I moved to Austin 6 years ago from Greensboro, NC where I previously led efforts to bring prominent street artists to the city. When I moved to Austin,I decided I wanted a more structured life and tried to put my creative pursuits on hold but the universe had a different plan and through the friendships I made, I was slowly introduced to the art scene in Austin. 

I saw a call on instagram by a guy named Jay Muzazc that he was looking for volunteers to help with grouting a large mosaic installation at the Galleria in Bee Caves. As Jay and I got to know each other, I learned that he had a studio at Something Cool and soon I met Luis. 

I also live along E Cesar Chavez so not only did we share a passion for art but also a passion for our neighborhood. Luis’s journey to owning Something Cool Studio took a lot of years and the ability to gather knowledge through his journey to both make money and continue to operate as an artist.

More about Luis

He came to Texas after he met his now wife in Art school in Miami as she was a native Texan. His first seven years after getting his MFA he worked for a mural company installing murals at private residences in Houston, which he said really taught him the business side of art and gave him the tools to see how he could progress his aspirations as an artist.

Today, Luis’s gallery and studios, Something Cool, is a participant in an effort called Third Thursday which encourages galleries and art venues to stay open later to showcase the art scene through East Austin from East Cesar Chavez to Govalle. 

He is also the Founder of Looking Up mural festival which will soon be operating for the 4th time. The initiative that he is most excited about is a non profit called Something Good which will be the catalyst to raise money for projects like the Alleyway as well as full circle to provide another artist the opportunity that gave him his start, creating a residency program for free studio space and mentorship. 

Something Cool Studios

Something Good Initiative

Looking Up Mural festival


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