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'It's really lit a fire under me': Rockdale man starts new art organization, helps local artists

Posted at 6:51 PM, Mar 26, 2024

ROCKDALE, Texas — An new organization in Rockdale is trying to bring more art to Milam County, helping local artists along the way.

  • Rockdale resident Valdemar Gameiro founded The Milam Arts Society, headquartered at Moon Brew Coffee, after seeing a need for more art in the area.
  • Rural counties like Milam County often lack resources like funding for artistic opportunities and facilities.
  • Now, Gameiro's group is helping local artists like musician Michelle Kilgus and craftsman Jeff Dixon a platform to showcase their talents to the community.


Michelle Kilgus has been singing since she was young.

Until life got in the way.

"After you have kids, it's like you start all over again sort of with your life,” she said.

Now, she's picking up the hobby again in Rockdale.

But she's been struggling to find opportunities.

“There's not a whole lot of venues for music,” Kilgus said.

Until she joined the Milam Arts Society, a new organization headquartered at the Moon Brew Coffee shop.

Its founder, Valdemar Gameiro, an artist himself, starting the group to bring more art to Milam County.

"Arts to me is essential…to be able to share that and have a medium to tell the world ‘Ok, look at this person, what they’ve done' and share that information that brings you closer as a community, that enriches the culture, gives you new ideas, new thoughts, makes you creative. You see other people doing. It just, for me, makes a better environment,” he said.

But it's often missing in rural communities, which receive less than 2% of national arts foundation funding even though it's home to about 20% of the U.S. population.

“I want to bring that here. I want to bring local talent up, showcase them, help them get better at what they do and share that with the community,” Gameiro said.

Through showcases —

"It's really lit a fire under me, and I have kind of a little bit of a fan group here now,” Kilgus said.

Hoping to release a full album.

"It's really giving me a lot of support and encouragement that I needed, so I really think that I’m gonna go for it… Dreams are dreams, and you should go after them no matter how old you are," she said.

The organization is still working toward expanding its reach, but they encourage anyone who wants to join to visit Moon Brew Coffee here in downtown Rockdale.