Art in Waco has been hard to find if you didn't know where to look, but now there’s a home for it in Waco’s cultural arts district. December 1st was the grand opening for a dedicated art space in the heart of downtown. Will Burney has more.
A couple buildings down from Waco’s iconic Hippodrome theater, there’s a new space for arts and culture in Waco. At 712 Austin Avenue is Cultivate Seven Twelve. The name is written on the large windows of the storefront. Marsha Wilson shows me around.
Currently on display: a botanical exhibit. There’s an eye-catching grey statue of a rose in bloom...it’s stem spirals down to the floor. And a classic painting of a vase with a single peach beside it on the table.
“Usually it’s an apple sitting on a table in still life to represent the fall of man but he chose a peach to represent Christ. “Wilson
Wilson is one of Seven-Twelve’s artists in residence. She takes me upstairs to show me her workspace. Before Cultivate Seven-Twelve she was working out of her home and jumping from festival to festival.
“Meeting the public is the fun part but schlepping your stuff back and forth is not fun.” –Wilson
She’s a pyrographer. Yeah, I didn’t know what that meant either.... Marcia says she creates art by burning leather, wood, and paper. The result is distinct, almost life like lines in her subjects.
“So often people see Marsha’s work and the first thing they think it’s pen and ink on paper -Hagman
Rebecca Hagman is the owner of Cultivate 712.
She has such fine detail so when people walk in the door and I share the process It completely makes the art come alive.” Hagman
In a way that’s the goal of Cultivate Seven Twelve. To create a single dedicated space for the arts, a place where people like Marsha Wilson can share their art with the public without having to leave her studio. Hagman says founding an art space in Waco had been a longtime dream of hers. She wanted to create a place that could be the heart of Waco’s art scene.
“This was far better and bigger and more beautiful than we imagined. And didn’t really think it could happen” Hagman
In a state full of quirky art towns, Waco’s scene was vibrant, but disjointed. A gallery may open here or there, but until last week, there wasn’t a single dedicated space. Hagman say it all started with the Waco 52 exhibit this summer. Back then, 712 Austin Avenue was vacant. The show filled the building with artwork from 52 of Waco’s finest...displayed on the walls, and also printed on a deck of playing cards.
When Hagman went to see the show, she realized this building would be perfect for the space she’d always envisioned. She met with the building owners and the curator of the Waco 52 exhibit.
“We realized quickly over the course of a week and a half that this indeed could be a reality.” Hagman
Hagman says Cultivate 721 aims to help provide access to artists like Marsha to help sell their work. But it’s more than that.
“Our Mission statement isn’t that we sell art. Our mission is that we’re here to be an access point and nexus for Waco’s cultural community and so I think because of the amount of effort going in that’s really why we’re experiencing this acceleration and blossoming” Hagman
The space is currently providing art and yoga classes and hosting events…. plus providing office space for organizations like Creative Waco, and the Central Texas Art Collective or C-Tex. Steve Veracruz is Co-founder of C-Tex. He says he thinks Cultivate 712 will promote even more growth in Waco.
“We’re such huge advocates for our city and we love it so much that the story goes on. I mean where this is one dedicated location there are so many areas with so much potential.” Veracruz
For now, owner Rebecca Hagman says they’ll have 8 artists in residence, and showcase a new exhibit each month.
For KWBU I’m Will Burney