We are truly experiencing a wonderful blossoming of art in San Angelo. The various expressions of creativity and collective willingness of our community to allow for this blossoming are inspiring.
I believe we are establishing ourselves as an artistic and cultural mecca for the arts.
What further inspires me is this expression is broad and not envisioned and implemented by only a few. There are strong leaders in this local revival, such as our San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, led by the venerable and visionary Howard Taylor and his skilled staff and supporters, along with Art in Uncommon Places, headed by the plucky Julie Raymond, Joy Thomas and their board of directors. Several others drive this rebirth.
There is Susan Morris with the more traditional, high quality and large murals that depict our history and culture.
The Chicken Farm Art Center continues to strongly present local art and artists in a unique and appealing way.
Our own leaders of Fort Concho foster the appreciation of the arts with several exhibitions, such as the Stribling West Texas Rehab show in late March, the American Plains Artist show from June through early August, the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts En Plein Air show in late October and the Christmas at Old Fort Concho children’s show during the first weekend of December.
The Kendall Art Gallery and San Angelo Art Club have been serving as a standard bearer for decades for promoting local art and creativity. There are also several private-owned galleries, more so than in the past.
I would like to expand more on the paramount role of my two favorite players in our renaissance. First, with SAMFA, under Taylor’s leadership, we now have a large, important and official cultural district on the south side of the river, south of our bustling downtown. His vision for this area is unique and when it comes to full bloom, it will truly put San Angelo on the map for an art destination in and of itself. And Taylor always has big projects in the works. Some haven’t yet come to fruition, but others have, such as the National Ceramic Competition in April, the EnPleinAir Texas event in October, CASETA (the Center for the Advancement and study of Early Texas Art) and the Pam and Richard Salmon Sculpture Garden (and international sculpture competition) at Sunken Garden Park, not to mention the annual presentation of interesting, engaging and artistically important exhibitions at the museum.
All these endeavors are unique and creative but are also more traditionally accepted in the greater world of the fine arts, which allows me to shift gears to talk about artistic endeavors that are more out of the box, such as our very own Art in Uncommon Places. Surely, few in San Angelo have not heard of them. Begun by two retired local art teachers, Julie Raymond and Sue Rainey, through grit, determination and vision they have created the most significant local art group and tapped directly into the creative heart of our community. Their efforts have ignited the recent renaissance and allowed artists of all walks of life in our area to express themselves freely, easily and publicly — in line with the true character of our great country.
Some of their more successful projects include much of the art along the Concho River trail: mosaics, art panels and decorated cars; all the art along the new Red Arroyo trail; the bronze cowboy sculpture by local artist Scott Sustek on North Bryant; the rethemed Paintbrush Alley off Irving; and the new Pop Art Museum on Twohig. Also, along the river trail are the several limestone-sculpted panels on the stone columns by talented San Angelo native Davis Cornell. Check them out!
Surely, I have failed to mention other key players in our recent art rebirth, but I cannot end this article without mention of the efforts of the Mertz Family. Several of our bronze sculptures are the results of their vision and efforts, including: “200%” (the Wool Capital Landmark) on South Bryant, as well as“Las Dos Angelas” at the Visitor Center.
This is truly a great time to live in San Angelo and see this proliferation of creativity and art. Fortunately for us all, it is continuing. There is more in the works that will soon be enjoyed by all. And, surely, more after that! I, for one, say bring it on!
Carl White is the Parks and Recreation director for the City of San Angelo. Contact him at (325) 657-4450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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