Annie Hicks is an artist and writer living in Austin, Texas. She comes from a family of artists and has found unique ways of celebrating their work in her home and in her professional endeavors. She's developed a name for herself too, working in New York as an art dealer and art assistant for Chuck Close and now in Austin where she spends most of her time writing. We spoke about her home, her work and viewed her gorgeous collection of art, most of which was produced by people with whom she shares a gene pool.
So Annie, you just bought this house and moved to the neighborhood - tell me a little about your house and why you chose to live in Clarksville?
Well I picked Clarksville because it’s very central in Austin and I was initially attracted to the East side but I thought it might be a flash in the pan and to be honest I felt that there was a more wholesome vibe in Clarksville. And I liked the house, because I felt like I wanted to have a space that was my own but I also wanted it to be accommodating to others and I wanted to a garden.
So you wanted a house made for one but with room for people to gather and you found this sweet little 1 bedroom house.
Yes, this space was unique insofar as it has a relatively low square-footage and likewise has a lot of space on the property. So I saw a lot of potential for building a screen porch or renovating what is now a shed and making a guest house, so I was mostly attracted to the property for the potential that it held.
Right now you’re using that back shed area as an art storage and studio space, tell me a little more about the art that you have back there and the artists you represent.
So I see the space as something that is certainly evolving. I initially used it as a clusterfuck space for extraneous clutter but as I’ve grown into the space I've realized that holds potential for me to organize my excessive art works. And I have collected a variety of artists and from different eras. I particularly enjoy abstract expressionism and photo realism and contemporary work that’s less on the conceptual side and more photo oriented. And I have a lot of friends that produce beautiful work like Hattie Lindsley and so I’d like to renovate the space a little so I can host things like WEST Austin Studio Tour or just to generally promote the artists that I care about.
And one of the artists that you’ve represented and whose work is back in that shed space is your great uncle Bill, tell me about his work.
My great uncle Bill McLean was a contemporary of Jackson Pollock and a part of that abstract expressionist movement and its burgeoning face and he’s someone I’ve always believed in. His artwork is, to me, extremely expressive and there a consistent theme and selling his work has really been a challenge and a great reward. It’s been fun to see a renaissance in his career. He lives in Austin but he was originally from Dallas/Fort Worth, and he had a career in New York and attended school in Paris. Basically his work is centered on the intersection of graffiti and cave art. So he tries to combine the primal with the primal, in two completely different ways. There’s a lot of movement, there’s a sort of strange consistent grace to all of his artwork. Bottom line I really believe in his work and the breadth of his work and so it’s been a delight to find a new audience for his work, and to have encouraged him to believe in his work and to have received such a great response.
and like Bill you started your career in New York
yeah I began working at Marlborough Gallery in Chelsea and that was a whirlwind and the nature of the work was a pinch more contemporary, and it was wonderful but it wasn’t quite my bag so I moved on to work for Kim Heirston who is an art dealer on the upper East Side and that was a great opportunity to understand the art market and sales and the general nitty gritty of the art world. And so coincidentally I was lucky enough to share a little bolognese with Chuck Close and we hit it off and so he hired me on the spot.
yeah, it was a dream because I had been studying him since I was 12 years old and mimicking his work and so it was a total pleasure. Bearing that in mind I enjoy the art world but I’ve transitioned away from it as a full-time career and tried to keep it as a pursuit generally on the side.
So I guess a good way to change up your career in the art world would be to move to Austin, TX. And the home you’ve put together is beautiful and full of beautiful art with a personal story and I’m curious to hear more about a few of your favorite pieces in your house.
It’s a treat in life to happen upon beautiful things. So my mirror I found sitting outside of my apartment (in New York) for about two weeks and nobody took it and I knew it was as glamorous as could be so I stole it. You know, something just told me they were over it. And bringing it home from New York was a hassle but if I feel a connection with a piece I run with it. The pieces that matter the most to me are my mirror, Bill’s work and likewise my great aunt’s work.
Yes, and I photographed a work of hers in your kitchen. Tell me more about that piece because I just love the way it looks with your disco ball chandelier kind of creating a halo around it.
Well, I like juxtaposition (laughs). And I felt like it would balance the space. Generally speaking I like to create a hodgepodge. My family is artistic across the board and it can be a pinch intimidating but it’s a treat to combine all of their works because there is something, there’s a common thread even though everyone has a different style, myself include there’s something that binds all the work together so I was attracted to that piece because the color theory matched other pieces of my great uncles and the primal nature of the work. It’s a depiction of a boat in Venice and you could put it any direction and it would make sense and we’re all attracted to deep blue.
That’s so true! Another great artifact in your home is this book written by your father “The South Made Simple.” I actually tried to find that book online because I was curious to read more about it and it’s extremely rare so I guess you’re pretty lucky to have salvaged a copy because you can really only find it through the Texas Monthly press at $150 a pop. So what’s the story behind that book?
My dad is sort of a hero of mine he was lucky enough to be a part of the Austin advertising, art scene when the creative market first started booming in Austin and Texas in general he caught it at the perfect moment. And so what I appreciate about my dad the most, insofar as his creative endeavors go, is he unabashedly captured the essence of the South. And I think he contributed to the hip appeal of Austin. Simple design was very important to him. And it’s so interesting to me because everyday I walk past Fresh Plus and Whole Foods and I get to see those simple designs distilled and know that he created those logos and advertising schemes but it was all driven by a simple (sort of tongue in cheek) attitude toward new Austin, new Texas and what now has become sort of a trendy identity.
It really is amazing how he took this frontier and helped create that cultural identity for Austin that is making people move here in droves. And you’re from Austin, so you’re not one of those people. How has coming home inspired your next project?
So I've focused generally on marketing and publicity ranging from art to medical research, I've kind of run the gamut. And now I've realized as much as I've loved that work it's been based on persuasion and writing....and just writing! I'd like to just focus on my writing now so I've worked on a number of travel writing projects for online journals such as 12hrs and other personal projects. My passion is understanding the lay of the land and the area I feel most invested in is West Texas so at this point I see that as the area with the greatest potential for creative work in my life.