By: Lisa Shaw, Executive Director, Galveston Arts Center
About Galveston Arts Center (GAC): The Galveston Arts Center exists to engage, inform, provoke and inspire through the explorations of contemporary art.
Can you tell us more about how the Moody Foundation funding has helped support the cultural programs you offer?
The Galveston Arts Center offers exhibitions, art making and art appreciation classes through collaboration with various community partners, including the Moody Foundation. Support from the Moody Foundation impacts all levels of GAC’s operations, ensuring we have the staffing and support for all of our outstanding and artist supporting programs. Because of the Moody Foundations support, GAC continues to always maintain free admission for all visitors and minimal cost to learners interested in participating in arts education.
GAC presents 12 exhibitions per year, featuring contemporary artists with free admission to the public. GAC’s exhibitions feature artists from throughout Texas and the Gulf Coast that share unique perspectives on contemporary topics.
The recent exhibition by artist Jamie Robertson, “A Hundred More,” examined the concept and reality of the Black Landscape in the rural South portrayed through photographs, sculpture and video that examine the 100-year lineage of Robertson’s family in the unincorporated communities of Leon County, TX. Central to the exhibition, Robertson’s piece titled “Dikenga Interpretation,” was made from soil collected from her family’s property along with a group of clocks running in reverse.
In addition to these programs, GAC has organized ArtWalk eight times per year since the 1980s. These community collaborative events are held every six weeks. Through ArtWalk, GAC stimulates working relationships between both the non-profit and commercial art spaces in Galveston. GAC exhibition openings are concurrent with ArtWalk nights. During ArtWalk, activities in commercial galleries, non-profit arts spaces and “other walls” at restaurants, cafes, retail stores and the like turn the Downtown District into a community buzzing with life!
GAC’s educational offerings also play a central role in how we engage and interact with the community. GAC participates in events such as Art in the Gardens, Artober Fest, and the Galveston Farmers Market, to name a few. Art classes are offered at a low cost along with nomination- and needs-based scholarships to ensure classes are accessible for all people regardless of their financial situation or walk of life.
Furthermore, GAC partners with local health and human service organizations to provide free weekly art activities for underserved populations, such as those stationed in hospitals, rehabilitation centers and long-term care facilities. Grant funding permits us to continue serving the increasing number of visitors, art students and outreach participants, at little to no cost.
How many people participate in your various cultural programs every year?
Between our in-studio education experiences, outreach, regular visitors and many community events, there are 18,000-20,000 people who participate in our cultural programs each year.
How do cultural programs benefit your community as a whole?
Educational programs introduce and encourage appreciation of contemporary visual art, teach techniques that facilitate active practice in visual artmaking, offer exciting ways for visitors to connect meaningfully with the art on view, and make art accessible to diverse populations in the community.
Visual arts provide windows into opportunities for all people for self-expression and vulnerability which embodies absolute courage.
“I received a phone call from a parent of a returning student,” said Megan Hjorth, Education Director at Galveston Arts Center. “They had just completed their first Art Club for Kids last fall and were nervous about coming back for spring Art Club and not connecting with other students. We made a plan to support the student and they agreed to give Art Club a go even though they were nervous. I watched from the back of our studio classroom as our teaching artist, Cassidy Bracewell, incorporated collaborative games, ‘get to know you’ activities and intentionally paired students with potential friends all while leading them through art instruction. Now when this student comes into class they head straight for their friend, pencil, and paper ready to play and learn.”
Galveston Arts Center’s largest outreach program, Art for All, creates opportunities for participants to challenge themselves to grow in ways that increase resilience and problem solving. Art for All brings art even closer with hands-on experiences guided by experienced teaching artists leading small groups or 1-1 instruction. The Center partners with community leaders and independent school districts to offer visual arts engagement to young learners through campus visits, artists talks, field trips to art galleries, and more.
What can visitors and residents expect to gain from these programs?
Visitors to GAC’s galleries and participants in our programs come from all backgrounds. Our hope is that through their experiences encountering works by artists or trying their own hand at creating something allows them to open their mind to new experiences and connect with others in the process.
Where can people go to learn about your upcoming events and classes?
Please visit www.galvestonartscenter.org to find a schedule of our upcoming events.