The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

The Power of Art

Art Center Waco celebrates 50 years of expression and artistic excellence

6 months ago

By Skylla Mumana

On Thursday, November 9, Art Center Waco held a special members-only event to commemorate the gallery’s 50th anniversary.

Art Center Waco, located at 701 S. 8th St., is a nonprofit art gallery that is committed to displaying, promoting and preserving vital, diverse artwork for the Waco public to enjoy. For the last 50 years, Art Center Waco has played an integral part in supporting local art and creativity in Central Texas.

Morgan Eyring is one of two Vice Chairmans sitting on the Board of Directors. As Vice Chairman, Eyring collaborates with other board members to bring new and exciting exhibits to Waco, and to help further art education in the area. From local events to outreach programs and group classes, Eyring and her fellow board members have continuously fought to showcase different forms of art to the Waco community.

“One of our main missions is to involve and support the education of the arts and make the arts available and accessible to anyone and everyone who wants to walk through our doors,” Eyring said. “I think we’ve played a really pivotal role in just expanding the arts to the community —our community — throughout Waco.”

To further celebrate its success, Art Center Waco revealed a new, special exhibit that showcased artwork that had been featured in the gallery in the last 50 years. Sitting board member and artist Chesley Smith Jr. had two of his own pieces in the show. As an artist, Smith feels that art can not only be found in gallery exhibitions, but all around us.

“Art is a very important part of our community,” Smith said. “Without the arts you wouldn’t have clothing, you wouldn’t have the automobile, you wouldn’t have the shoes we wear. We wouldn’t even have this facility because everything that you see is connected to the arts.”

Meghan Bias is the new Executive Director of Art Center Waco. Despite having spent so little time in her position, Bias took on the task of helping to coordinate the event and the special exhibition. Bias has been an art lover all her life, and found herself looking to it as an escape. She feels that art, at its core, is about human connection, and hopes to continue sharing this message through the Art Center.

“Art has saved my life,” Bias said. “I’ve found that the world was a lot less lonely when I found artwork that spoke to me, or that I felt was going through the same thing as me. It’s so powerful that it can create this human connection, even if somebody is not alive anymore. I think the world just needs so much more of that, we have to have this place where we can be human again and connect with each other. I’m excited to be here at the Art Center and push that through our programs and our education to make it accessible and diverse.”

One major moment from the night was the presentation of Art Center Waco’s new Alyce Beard Award. The award was named after board member Alyce Beard, a woman who has dedicated her life to championing the arts. Since her youth, Beard has always had a passion for art, which led her to get her Bachelor of Arts in art studies at Baylor University and become an art teacher here in Waco. Beard has been a dedicated board member at Art Center Waco since the gallery was first founded in 1973. To Beard, art is an expression of feeling and can serve as a way to speak the mind.

“What would our world look like if we didn’t have art? If we didn’t have art in our homes, art in public places,” Beard said. “It’s an expression that we are freely allowed to give and represent. It is a way that we can speak our minds in a very peaceful manner. It’s a representation of our feelings, and it is a joy to be able to see people’s expressions, to feel them, to interpret them and to exhibit them.”

With 50 years now under its belt, Beard, along with the other Board Members, hopes for the continuance of Art Center Waco’s success, and that the Waco public will continue to show support for the gallery and for the Waco arts in general.