We’re so fortunate to partner with local artists for our International Series, and for our Season Finale with the Kupiński Duo on Saturday, April 27th, we’re especially delighted to have the work of Art From the Streets on display in the lobby. We recently had an opportunity to speak with the Board President, Samuel Pate, a longtime supporter of the arts and social service organizations in Austin. He’s served as President for the past five years, and he shared some insight into why he’s so passionate about Art From the Streets.

Mission: “To provide a safe and encouraging environment in which the positive spirit and creativity of homeless and at-risk people are nurtured through their own artistic expression. These artistic endeavors form a pathway to self- determination by means of the sense of achievement, the social connections, and the income generated through the pursuit of their art.”

Art From the Streets is a local non-profit dedicated to providing Austinites experiencing homelessness the space and materials to create art. Through selling their work, the participants gain both financial support and self-esteem. It was founded in the early 1990s by Bill Jeffers, a poet and sculptor, and Heloise Gold, a performing artist, dancer, and T’ai Chi instructor.

Every year, 40-50 artists create original works of art in the AFTS studio. Stocked with paper, paints, brushes, and plenty of volunteers to help, the studio is a safe space to explore creative outlets. The Trinity Center at downtown St. David’s Episcopal Church has kindly opened their doors to AFTS as a studio and storage space. It’s intentionally located just a block away from ARCH – Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. Most people hear of Art From the Streets via word of mouth, and three days out of the week, anywhere from 6-20 people stop in to use the materials for their creations.


“Many of our artists have been fortunate, through the sale of their artwork, to afford a place to live partially throughout the year … as some respite from being on the streets.”

There are many gallery events throughout the year for patrons to purchase the original artwork and to engage with the artists. In addition to events at Violet Crown, St. David’s, Trinity Church, and other churches around town, they participate in EAST and WEST, and also sell prints of the work online. 95% of the revenue sourced from sales goes directly to the artists, with only 5% held for production of the shows.

However, the intrinsic value of participation in these free studio opportunities is not the monetary gain.

“The greatest benefits I see are the sense of optimism, the confidence built, and the social connections. It’s the achievement, it’s doing something. I think we spend more time, energy, and resources creating this program than the artists make by the end of the year. If we just took that money and distributed it, it wouldn’t have the same effect.”

Art From the Streets is in the midst of running a Capitol Campaign with the goal of affording a new space of their own. That would offer them the possibility to have open doors five days of the week instead of only three, and the studio would ideally have art storage and a space for gallery events. They would also like to increase their paid staff in the future; currently, Art From the Streets has only one paid staff member.

“Three” by Bernardo ‘Nayo’ Martinez

On the cover of our program for Saturday night is the artwork of “Nayo” Martinez, an AFTS participant who passed away late last year. According to Samuel, “He was a great artist. He was extremely talented, very accessible, and now his paintings are being grabbed up as fast as they can.”

Kelley Worden, the AFTS Executive Director, said they recently found out that Nayo worked in the circus for many years – perhaps explaining the faces he frequently depicted in his work.