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Traveling Texas: Waco Art Center

Posted at 9:54 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 22:54:28-05

After four years of hard work and fundraising, the dream of a new home for Art Center Waco is a reality.

From stellar art exhibits to classes for the budding artist, Art Center Waco is now in its new home and ready for you to visit.

“It is literally a fulfillment of dreams and aspirations.”

Alyce Beard has been a member of the Art Center Waco since its beginning nearly 50 years ago, and a long-time member of the board. This new location, in the shadow of the Magnolia Silos, is quite a departure from its previous location in the residential Cameron home on the McLennan Community College campus. 4 years ago, that building became structurally unsound.

"We fled the scene actually very quickly and basically have been homeless or with just an office, the presence of an office, a few satellite offices to do some classes. But we have during this period of time, we were forced to come up with our future plan," Beard said. "We're now at 701 South Eighth Street. And it was an empty shell of the building, so we repurposed it.”

The fundraising isn’t over, though. Director and CEO Doug McDurham said they need to finish paying for the building that had its formal opening in October of 2021.

“Our BTRarchitects, Grant Dudley in particular, knew what they were doing in this space, and it is evident from top to the bottom," McDurham said. "It is a piece of art in itself.”

Art Center Waco has classroom space, two smaller galleries, and the big gallery --home to special “short term” exhibits. We got to see the grand-opening exhibit before it wrapped up featuring the work of renowned Waco artist Kermit Oliver.

“Kermit has lived in Waco over 30 years," Beard said. "His wife's family was from here and they came back here. And Kermit continued his employment with the united states postal office, but also continued in painting.”

Oliver is known for his designs for luxury Paris fashion house Hermes—the first American artist tapped to design their high-end scarves.

“He is a dear and lovely man, quite the gentleman, and has accepted our invitation to be our opening exhibition, which was very meaningful for us that we could show off a Waco product," Beard said. “He's very special to us and I think we are to him. Also, I think that he just as much admires us as we admire him, which is a beautiful relationship that we have with him.”

More exhibits are on the way, featuring nationally known as well as local artists—who will enjoy a very special showcase for their work.

“Folks are consistently walking through the door, just surprised and unexpected to see the gorgeous architecture, the amazing art that we have here," McDurham said. "And we had lots of folks come in from out of town and say, this is not what I expected when I was driving to Waco. And I can consistently say, well, this is what you should expect from Waco. We're very proud of it.”