The San Angelo Convention & Visitors Bureau, a division of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, has received word from Rep. Drew Darby’s office that House Concurrent Resolution 24, naming San Angelo the Visual Arts Capital of Texas, was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott Monday in Austin.
Mayor Brenda Gunter said in a release from the Convention & Visitors Bureau, “As the mayor of San Angelo, I believe strongly in the importance of the arts and the arts community. I am so proud to be able to support and announce that San Angelo has been given a 10-year designation as the Visual Arts Capital of Texas. We have an arts community who have made our city so much more attractive by using their talents to attract and inspire people through their commitment to the arts. Thank you to all the artists in the city who believe and share their talents with the public. You have made us a much more attractive city.”
Vice president of the Convention & Visitors Bureau Diann Bayes said in the release, “This has been a two-year vision of the Convention & Visitors Bureau. We reached out to our Rep. Darby’s office and Sen. Perry’s office in May of 2019, to find out the process of seeking the designation. We were told we needed to send information to their offices during the next legislative session, which was in 2021. In December 2020, we put together a presentation to our legislators, along with support letters from Mayor Gunter, Downtown San Angelo, Inc. and the Museum of Fine Arts and submitted it."
"From its murals, museums, and galleries to historic Fort Concho and the iconic Cactus Hotel, San Angelo boasts many attractions and numerous accolades that truly make it a vibrant city for the arts in Texas," Rep. Drew Darby said in the release. "During the most recent legislative session, I was proud to pass House Concurrent Resolution 24, which designates San Angelo as the official Visual Arts Capital of Texas and recognizes our city for its many historic contributions and artistic works. This recognition is well-deserved and honors our community for the next 10 years.”
Darby introduced HCR24 and Bayes testified in Austin on San Angelo’s behalf.
Below is the testimony read by Bayes to the Committee on Culture, Recreation and Tourism.
“With a cultural district made up of 200 acres around our historic downtown and serving as the headquarters for the Center for the Study and Advancement of Early Texas Art, San Angelo has long supported the visual arts in our city. Our Museum of Fine Arts has received the nation’s highest award for museums, the Museum Service Award. It also hosts the largest National Ceramic Competition in its 23rd year this year, a biannual National Sculpture Competition and one of the largest Plein Air Painting Competitions in the United States. The museum houses an extensive collection of Texas art, Spanish Colonial and Mexican religious art, as well as a collection of American-made glass.
"Our city is known for the visual arts on display throughout San Angelo, including 100 painted sheep that were introduced to embrace the history of our community as one of the largest sheep markets in the U.S. Across our city, you will find historic murals portraying more of our rich history, which, in 2020, helped us achieve the designation of the #1 True Western Town in the U.S. In addition, San Angelo was one of only three cities selected to serve as the home to a permanent Don’t Mess with Texas mural, depicting the importance of keeping Texas beautiful. We have nearly three dozen museums and galleries, showcasing art from both local artists and traveling displays. Additionally, many of our restaurants, bars, live music venues and coffee houses showcase visual arts created by San Angelo artists.
"With more than 250 sculptures and statues at parks, corporations and educational institutions in our city, the visual arts play a large role in improving the quality of life for our citizens through the beautification of our city. We are blessed to have Art in Uncommon Places in our city. Julie Raymond and Joy Thomas work with local artists and jail trustees on developing art pieces and displaying them around San Angelo, but not in the most commonly thought areas. Their non-profit organization has placed more than 200 pieces of art in San Angelo. Their works include Paintbrush Alley, featuring works embracing our western, oil and gas heritage through art based on the movie, Giant, which was shot in west Texas. The organization recently introduced the Pop Art Museum, an open-air museum located in a former bowling alley. This museum was recognized by Texas Highways as one of the 13 Things to Do in 2020, as well as by the international travel inspiration website, Lonely Planet.
"Finally, future projects that will continue to enhance the Visual Arts in San Angelo include a Buffalo Soldier Art Gallery, projected to open later this year, helping to highlight the role of the Buffalo Soldiers stationed at Fort Concho in the 1870s and 1880s; the Mayer Museum at Angelo State University, a 32,000 square feet art museum, which opened in May; and the Create Center, which will devote its efforts to makers training, introducing students to the art of saddlery, boot making, ceramics and much more. For these reasons, our community believes San Angelo is worthy of the designation of Visual Arts Capital of Texas.”
Senator Charles Perry brought the designation to the floor and it was approved unanimously by both the Texas Senate and the Texas House of Representatives. According to Bayes, “We are so thankful for the support of Rep. Darby and Sen. Perry and their staffs for helping make this designation a reality for our community. The Convention & Visitors Bureau plans to host an event soon to celebrate this designation and the artists who made it happen. The creative class plays an important role in the quality of life for the citizens of San Angelo and we are delighted to be able to market our community for the next 10 years as the Visual Arts Capital of Texas."