By Kathi Bliss
Driven by a common love for art and the desire to share their knowledge, a group of area artists have come together to expose and promote the arts in Lockhart.
Marti Ann Bray, a former teacher and businesswoman, her husband Monty, a musician, and Brian Byers, a cartoonist, have been working nonstop for several weeks to get their project, the Lockhart Center for the Arts, off the ground.
“I have a passion for art and a passion for teaching,” Mrs. Bray said. “I knew when I opened the bead shop that I didn’t want to sell beads for the rest of my life, but I love Lockhart and wanted to be a part of the community.”
After closing her bead shop at the end of 2006, Bray met Byers, who asked to use her storefront on the Courthouse Square to hold classes for his Toon Academy of Texas.
“At that point, things just came together,” she said. “What I’ve always wanted to do is have a place where artists can both learn and get exposure for their work. It’s an idea that we [she and Monty] have been discussing for years.”
With the February opening of the Lockhart Center for the Arts, the Brays’ dream will become a reality.
Plans for the center include gallery space for art displays as well as a wide variety of classes.
“I’m still going to do my classes on beadwork, and Brian has the Academy,” Bray said. “In addition, we’re planning to have songwriting classes, painting, drawing, and later even film, radio and music production.”
As plans for the Center continue taking shape, Bray said she has been overwhelmed by the community’s response.
“I knew there were talented artists here, but I had no real idea that caliber of people that we would get interested in the center,” she said. “Since the day we hung out the sign, people have been knocking on the door, not only asking what kinds of classes we are going to offer, but asking if they can teach and asking us about showings.”
Despite the fact that organizations like the Lockhart Center for the Arts have not been available in Caldwell County in recent years, Bray is confident that the community will continue being responsive.
“From what we’ve heard so far, the people of this community are thirsty for the arts,” she said. “We don’t know, at this point, exactly what the needs are, because that keeps developing every day, and we want to address as many of the wants and needs as we can.”
She invited anyone with an interest in learning or honing an art to contact the Center to discuss their ideas. She hopes to incorporate both visual and performing arts into the curriculum at the Center. In addition, the Lockhart Center for the Arts has an application pending to become a recognized non-profit organization.
“The main thing that we hope is to give local artists a voice,” she said. “As close as we are to metropolitan areas where artists are exposed and thriving, we want our artists here in Lockhart to have the same kind of voice.”
For more information on the Lockhart Center for the Arts, visit www.lockhart-arts.org.