AUSTIN WOMEN A satellite exhibition at the F1 track featuring Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Micky Hoogendijk. See details below…

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Making Austin POP.

By Kelly E. Lindner, Photo by Dustin Meyer

Have you ever noticed a giant melting Popsicle on the corner of Congress Avenue and Cesar Chavez Street? What about a black and white painting of a lady with bright-pink lipstick on the side of a building at Fifth and Colorado streets? Or the comic-book-like action shot of the man getting punched with an extended boxing glove at Fourth Street and I-35? If you have, Lana Carlson’s eye for art has already grabbed your attention.

Carlson is the head curator and co-founder of the POP Austin International Art Show, an annual three-day art exhibition that came to Austin in 2014. The mission of POP Austin is to provide space for established and emerging international artists while showcasing local Texas artists.

“The idea is to put local and more established artists on the same field and remove the barriers,” Carlson says. POP Austin’s show last October, with a contemporary-art theme, had more than 6,400 attendees, included art from more than 12 countries and featured artists such as Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami, the Gao Brothers, Gérard Rancinan, Robert Indiana and Massimo Vitali, among many others, as well as Austin artists Bale Creek Allen, Jason Archer and Todd Sanders. How did Carlson gather such world-renowned art to hang next to local talent? Well, she’s been working with art since she was 19.

Carlson has been drawn to the arts since she was a child growing up in Novosibirsk, Russia. Her first impression of art was from her grandfather, Victor, who was a musician, poet and painter in his spare time. In fact, he inspired her, at the age of 16, to pursue degrees in both international business management and music from the International Banking Institute and the Voskova Musical College (both in St. Petersburg, Russia). The music side of her degree had her singing, conducting choir and playing piano, accordion and violin. But her focus shifted to art when she moved to Paris at 19 to attend the Paris-Sorbonne University, Cours de Civilisation Française and the École du Louvre, where she studied contemporary art, history of art, European history and culture and languages.

Soon, she began curating art in galleries for close friends. But within three years, she began curating major art exhibits consisting of famous artists’ works. In fact, she often flew between Moscow, Paris and St. Petersburg (where she eventually had her own exhibit space) to transport works of art for various art shows and fairs.

Carlson was curating the Rodin exhibit at The Louvre when she met her husband, POP Austin Co-founder and Creative Director Steven Carlson, at a café in 2012. He was working on a rockumentary called Different Town about his trek across Europe and the U.S. while recording an album on the road. He ended up including their love story in the film.

“We fell in love immediately,” he says.

In fact, when asked if it was anything like the Before Sunrise, Before Sunset or Before Midnight movies, he replies, “Yes, it was actually a lot like that.”

In 2013, he and Carlson moved to Ojai, Calif., together, soon married and intended to start POP LA. But in 2014, Carlson visited Austin for the first time for South By Southwest.

“Austin has such a great vibe,” Carlson says. “I’ve lived in different countries and different cities, and each city feels different. Austin just has this amazing energy. I just thought the show would stand out more here.” As soon as Carlson returned to LA, the couple started working on POP Austin. But Carlson didn’t want to put on a typical art show in a typical format. She didn’t want it to be specifically an art fair, a gallery or a museum, but a mix of all the best from the three formats.

“Art fairs are too much about selling,” Carlson says. “Galleries can have the same issue, with sellers walking the floor trying to push the art. I love museums, so I wanted something more like a museum, where you can buy the art if you want but no one is going to push you about it.”

POP Austin’s annual exhibition takes place this month, with a satellite show during race weekend for the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix. Works for the show are being shipped from Europe, Asia, New York and Los Angeles, and will be presented next to Texas art.

If Carlson could give any advice to aspiring female curators, it would be, “Work, work and work some more. The more you work, the more opportunities that present themselves to you. But when they come, you have to be ready or they’ll pass you by.”


Oct. 22–25, Fair Market, 1100 E. Fifth St.

Since 2015 has been named the International Year of Light by the United Nations, this year’s POP Austin International Art Show is titled Illumination, and will feature lightbased works by international and emerging artists, and Texas-based artists. Featured artists include Adela Andea, Alyssa Taylor Wendt, Bale Creek Allen, Carlo Bernardini, Claudia Meyer, Evan Voyles, Hans Kotter, Jeongmoon Choi, James Turrell, Jerome Morrison, Lisa Schulte, Lori Hersberger, Matthew LaPenta, Nonotak, Sharon Keshishian and Todd Sanders.

Light-based works will include projection, laser, neon, LED, hologram, ultraviolet and more. The works and installations will provide an interactive and immersive atmosphere for guests of all ages. The show includes a VIP opening party Oct. 22 from 8 to 11 p.m., and will remain open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Oct. 23 through Oct. 25. Tickets for the VIP opening-night event are $200 per person. Tickets for the regular show are $40 per person. Children 12 and younger receive free admission when accompanied by a ticketed adult. Purchase tickets at




Oct. 23–25, Circuit of the Americas, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd.

POP Austin will also host a satellite exhibit for all ticket holders of the 2015 Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix during race weekend, Oct. 23 through 25. The satellite show will feature the “glamourous pop art” of many celebrated artists, including Andy Warhol, Richard Orlinski, Micky Hoogendijk, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Desire Obtain Cherish, Shane Guffogg and several more. The showcase at the COTA is available for the enjoyment of all race goers. Learn more at


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