The 254

Austin Avenue Art Fair

By Kevin Tankersley

Bringing Texas Artists to the Community

Wendy Michelle Davis was having lunch with her husband at Maria Mezcaleria, the restaurant at Eighth Street and Austin Avenue, adjacent to the Hippodrome Theatre, when she got the email that she hadn’t been accepted for a spot in Magnolia’s annual Silobration. She looked out the window of the restaurant and saw Anthem Stories, an event space across the street.

That’s when she decided that she would organize an art festival — right there at Anthem Stories at 800 Austin Avenue.

The inaugural Austin Avenue Art Fair will take place October 19-21, the same weekend that Silobration will be held just a quarter-mile away. It’s a nine-minute walk from one venue to the other.

“It just ignited a desire to put on a group art show and feature artists and musicians,” Davis said. “I’ve always loved bringing people together, especially with art.”

Davis has hosted open studio events, artist retreats and workshops at her studio in Speegleville, and felt the urge to step up and create a bigger event.

“It just seemed like the perfect opportunity and the right time to do it,” she said.

The Waco-based band Suede will play at a ticketed event to open the art fair on that Thursday night, and admission will be free for the remainder of the weekend. Artists will be creating and musicians will be performing on the sidewalk outside Anthem Stories, while 14 artists will be displaying their work inside.

“They’re Texas local,” Davis said of the visual artists who will be at the fair. “A little over half the artists will be Waco artists, and then we’ve got artists from the Dallas area, Temple and the Houston area.”

As with most art events, funding is kind of a challenge, Davis said. She’s intent on paying the musicians who will be performing during the event, and the opening reception on Thursday will feature food and drinks. BRÛ, Anthem’s in-house coffee shop, will be offering coffee, tea and food as well.

“It hasn’t been difficult gathering artists and musicians,” she said. “They’re very willing to jump in. They’re excited about it. The hardest part has been getting businesses to sponsor the event. I think we’re a bit in lean times, so it’s a little harder for businesses to want to just hand over money for an event. But we are getting donations for a live auction. I’m working with Creative Waco on a grant to help fund the event, and the Art Center’s helping out in lots of ways, providing volunteers and even walls for the booths.”

Davis’ idea of an art fair gained traction quickly, as that lunch with her husband, Rafael De La Rosa, was on June 30.

“I want to see the arts be raised up with everything that’s happening here and to be seen and to be supported by our community,” she said. “There’s something about art. Art speaks to us.”

Something About Art

“You see a painting, you see a work of art and it’s like something deep inside that touches you, and I want people to have more of that in their lives, in their homes, in their businesses,” Davis said.

Information on artists and tickets for the first night of the Austin Avenue Art Fair can be found on the event’s Instagram page and at Some of the Waco artists taking part include Mary Danielson Perry, Wendy Michelle Davis, Jolee French, Samantha Janes, Greg Lewallen, Rhiannon Rosenbaum, Jess Williams and Homestead Pottery.