Women of Flatbed at Elisabet Ney: A Continuing Female Legacy

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Photo Credit: Oliver Franklin | Daily Texan Staff

On 44th Street sits a castle-like home with views of a stream and rooms filled with art. A fairy tale home might seem like an unlikely place for a strong show of feminism, but “Women of Flatbed: A Retrospective” showing in the idyllic space of the Elisabet Ney Museum is just that.

The Ney teamed up with Austin’s Flatbed Press, a fine art printing press and exhibition space, to create the exhibit. The show, which runs through April 28, is made up of select works by female artists spanning the 30 years of Flatbed’s history as a press.

The show’s all-female artists contribute to Elisabet Ney’s legacy as an influential woman in the arts.

Elisabet Ney, the 19th-century sculptress who lived and worked in the home-turned-museum in her life, was a trailblazer for women in the arts. Her eccentric ways rubbed more than a few cowboys the wrong way, according to museum docent Amy Andrews.

For Sydney Yeager, painter and 1987 fine arts alumna, the significance of Ney as a feminist icon as well as the importance of Ney’s work in her own art made her inclusion in the show meaningful.

“As I was getting more into art, I would attend life drawing classes at the Ney, so the museum was important for me getting on my feet artistically,” Yeager said.

Yeager, whose contemporary paintings are distinctive for their abstract forms, currently has work not only at the Ney but at the Wright Gallery at Texas A&M. Her work can also be seen in Kendra Scott’s offices in New York and Austin.

According to Yeager, it’s not only the fact that each artist in the showcase is female that makes “Women of Flatbed” a unique exhibition; the selected pieces also feature the female form as a common theme.

“Looking at the prints, it’s like a dialogue between the artists on femininity,” Yeager said. “The interaction between the pieces is something really special to see.”

For Yeager, Flatbed Press’ co-founder Katherine Brimberry was an important influence for her and many of the artists Flatbed works with.

“Collaborating with artists is a great part of this job,” Brimberry said. “Many of the artists we work with, including those in the ‘Women of Flatbed’ show, aren’t printmakers by trade, but created amazing pieces.”

According to Brimberry, the selections represent artists spanning Flatbed’s decades-long history as a press.

“Flatbed has worked with hundreds of artists since the press began, so there was a lot of work to choose from when the Ney approached us with this showcase,” Brimberry said. “We were able to put together a collection that features female artists from Flatbed’s early days as well as new associates.”

Now in its 30th year of operation, Flatbed will soon move from its 2832 East MLK Blvd. address to 3701 Drossett Dr. The move comes as real estate developments push out smaller tenants such as Flatbed in favor of housing developments.

The press expects to relocate sometime in March, Brimberry said. In the meantime, visitors can see Flatbed work in their MLK location as well as the Ney.

Entrance to Flatbed Press and the Elisabet Ney Museum is free, with optional donations at the Ney.