Take it from the professionals: you need business to excel in art

By Bradi Zapata
Marketing & PR Intern

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The Creative Waco team is gearing up for our new professional development program for artists and creatives, Work of Art, which kicks off next week. The eight-week course will be held in downtown Waco from Sept. 24 to Nov. 14. and will teach artists and creatives essential business skills on how to sell their work.

Work of Art instructor Luann Jennings reached out to artists from various states and creative disciplines, and asked them to share why they believe business knowledge is essential to succeeding in the arts and creative businesses. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “[Viewing my writing as a business] forced me to change my relationship to the work and to my audience. My work is more relational, and holds more respect for the people who receive it. I'm less self-indulgent. I'm also braver, far more willing to try things, see what connects with people, and follow that.”
    Ellen Seltz, novelist from Birmingham, Ala.

  • “One of the most pivotal realizations for me as an artist was that it actually IS a business and I actually AM a business owner. This allowed me think more holistically and strategically about the less glamorous parts of art-making, as well as more bravely and confidently about the artistic product and process. The work I'm doing -- whether it's budgeting, event planning, painting, designing, directing, producing, performing, etc. -- is work and it is worthy of remuneration.”
    Hannah Holman, theatre leader and advocate from Minneapolis Minn.

  • “This profession is a marathon; not a sprint. I personally had to sober myself to the financial realities of this business and learn to navigate the ebb and flow of getting work, then not getting work, and how to spend my time in the ‘in between times.’”
    Brit Whittle, actor from New York City, N.Y.

  • “Sacrifices are necessary for anything you want. Sacrifices include but aren't limited to: money / material goods, health, relationships, fame, fulfillment and time. The balancing of all of these is in constant flux. Many folks my age are embarking on one or more of the above that may have eluded them in their younger days.”
    Barbara Hawkins-Scott, voiceover actor and studio manager from Atlanta, Ga.

  • In my years of working freelance, we came to the end of each month with almost enough money to make ends meet. Almost. It was creatively draining to work so hard and then fall just short. I finally embraced the idea that we would never be financially comfortable. It seemed like embracing one of my biggest fears. But once I did it, everything got better.”
    Laura Robinson, costume designer from Kansas City, Mo.

Work of Art was developed by Springboard for the Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota. Instructors have taught the course in over 80 communities in the upper Midwest. This fall will be the first time that Work of Art will be held in Waco.

The eight sessions will cover: planning for a financially sustainable and fulfilling career, goals, productivity, effective communication in person and in print, what and how to charge, keeping the lawyers and the IRS happy, and more. The first session will cover Why Artists need Business Skills and is free of charge.

Register and find more information at creativewaco.org/work-of-art.

Artist Behind the Exhibit: Q&A with Pyrographer Marsha Wilson

By Bradi Zapata
Marketing & PR Intern

In the spring of 2017, Creative Waco partnered with the Honorable Doc Anderson and the Honorable Kyle Kacal, Texas State Representatives, to host a juried art exhibition featuring artwork by 52 outstanding artists from Waco and McLennan County. The exhibition was held in Austin for one month, then came to Waco for a brief period in the form of a pop-up gallery in the building that now houses Cultivate 7Twelve in downtown Waco. After the exhibition, the intricate exhibits were made into the Waco 52 playing cards. Each card in the deck is a different piece from the Waco 52 exhibition. Every card shares a captivating story and is a wonderful way to hold Waco in the palm of a hand.

 Wood Burner Marsha Wilson stands with her pyrograph  Los Vaquero.  Photo by Bradi Zapata

Wood Burner Marsha Wilson stands with her pyrograph Los Vaquero.
Photo by Bradi Zapata

  Tall in the Saddle  by Marsha Wilson

Tall in the Saddle by Marsha Wilson

  Trail Boss  other pyrographs by wood burner Marsha Wilson Photo by Bradi Zapata

Trail Boss other pyrographs by wood burner Marsha Wilson
Photo by Bradi Zapata

Artist Marsha Wilson pyrographed the exhibit Tall in the Saddle, an interpretation of the African American cowboy statues, located in front of the Waco Suspension Bridge. Pyrographing (commonly referred to as wood burning) is the art of burning a design on wood, paper or leather with heated metal tips of various sizes. Wilson has been pyrographing for 10 years and spends an ample amount of time on each piece she creates; Tall in the Saddle took between 30 to 36 hours. Wilson shares the story behind Tall in the Saddle.

Q: What inspired you to create Tall in the Saddle?

A: [Tall in the Saddle] is inspired by one of the bronze statues down by the river at the suspension bridge. It is actually the African American cowboy [statue] dedicated to the cowboys that rode the Chisholm Trail … that status is larger than life, and looking at it makes you feel like a kid again. As a kid, my mom would take me to the rodeo and there was always a parade, and I remember how big those horses and those cowboys were; I was always super impressed by them. When I walked up to that statue  I felt like a kid again. I knew that that was the perspective that I wanted to take; Like you’re a little kid looking up.

Q: Did you create any follow-up pieces?

A: I decided to make the series and do the other cowboy statues too. Los Vaquero is the Hispanic cowboy and then the other [pyrograph] is named Trail boss. I love the way that the three of them look together, but that was just absolute accident.

Q: Why did you participate in the Waco 52 exhibition?

A: Fiona Bond [the Creative Waco Executive Director] encouraged me to participate because it would look good on my resume and was internationally judged. [Tall in the Saddle] was not what I originally submitted … but she saw it on Facebook and said ‘Marsha submit this one, it’s really good!’ That was very encouraging, so I did and it was accepted. I think  [it was accepted] because it’s such a dramatic angle.

Q: Has the Waco 52 exhibition increased the demand of your work?

A: Not that I can tie back to it directly, but I know that since I’ve been in Waco, the demand for my work has increased and a lot of that is the momentum from Waco 52 and Cultivate 7twelve … All of the exposure that I’ve gotten has been absolutely wonderful.

Q: How has being in the Waco 52 exhibition impacted you personally, aside from motivating two other pieces?

A: [All of the artists] got to go down to Austin for [the exhibition] and we celebrated with the Texas Representatives and that was just a huge confidence boost. It was the biggest thing that has happened in my art career … to get the feedback from the other artists, state representatives, and somebody like the international judges, I was just totally overwhelmed with encouragement. That was over and above any monetary value.

Q: What advice do you have for other artists?

A: Opportunities are everything, and if you’re like I was; sitting at home, doing my own thing at my own little table and only going to art fairs, your opportunities are limited … you have to make yourself available to meet people and talk to people, otherwise you will stay stagnant with your art.

Wilson loves to create bold pieces and make memories into beautiful art, that evokes happiness. After the Waco 52 exhibition, Wilson has had various pieces featured in Cultivate 7twelve art gallery, a gallery in Laguna Beach, CA, the Table Toppers fundraiser put on by Art Center Waco, the Cattle Baron’s Ball, the Waco Mardi Gras Ball, and she is looking forward to showcasing a unique pyrograph in a fundraiser put on by UnBound.

Tall in the Saddle is currently hung upon the walls on the second floor in Cultivate 7twelve. Tall in the Saddle in currently on display at Interior Glow. Waco 52 Playing Cards are available in store at many selected retailers, including Cultivate 7twelve, Common Grounds Waco, Christi’s, Waco Tourist Information Center, etc. Waco 52 Playing Cards can also be purchased online here. 


8 times you can see Banksy (sort of)

By Rae Jefferson
Director of Marketing and Communications

This post is an extension of the Conversations with Creative Waco radio program on 103.3 KWBU fm, where we take you behind the scenes of art and culture in Waco. Catch us live on the fourth and fifth Friday of every month at 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

 Brian Greif, star of film "Saving Banksy," stands with "Haight Street Rat." The film documents his preservation of the Banksy piece from a building in San Francisco in 2010. He'll be present for a lecture at Cultivate 7Twelve later in September.

Brian Greif, star of film "Saving Banksy," stands with "Haight Street Rat." The film documents his preservation of the Banksy piece from a building in San Francisco in 2010. He'll be present for a lecture at Cultivate 7Twelve later in September.

 Photos courtesy of Cultivate 7Twelve and Brian Greif.

Photos courtesy of Cultivate 7Twelve and Brian Greif.

This September, Waco will make state history as the first city in Texas to host a piece of street art from world-famous and anonymous artist Banksy. Although the public doesn't know for sure who the mysterious Banksy really is, the street artist's work is highly recognizable and makes satirical commentary on political and social issues across the world. Throughout September, Waco will host "Haight Street Rat," a Banksy piece saved from destruction in San Francisco in 2010, at local art gallery Cultivate 7Twelve.

Cultivate director Rebekah Hagman is on Conversations with Creative Waco this week to talk about how such a special piece of art is making its way to Waco. The exhibition, titled "Writing on the Wall," will feature local art inspired by street art and word-based creation. Hear the episode today at 8 p.m. on 103.3 fm KWBU, or listen to the recording here. In the meantime, check out this calendar (courtesy of Cultivate 7Twelve) of all the Banksy-related events happening at the gallery during the month of September. Don't miss special events with leading street art critic James Daichendt and "Saving Banksy" star Brian Greif.


6 – 11 P.M. THURSDAY, SEPT. 6

$30 per person. Tickets available here.
Includes screening of documentary “Saving Banksy” at the Hippodrome; gallery reception; champagne bar and light fare from Luna Juice Catering; lecture and Q&A from prominent art collector and star of “Saving Banksy,” Brian Greif. Cocktail attire requested.


6 – 10 P.M. FRIDAY, SEPT. 7

Free and open to the public.
First chance for the public to see the installation for free. Includes live music; champagne bar from Luna Juice Catering; additional food vendors Summer Snow and Sweetness Desserts.


6:30 – 7:30 P.M. SUNDAY, SEPT. 16

Free and open to the public.
Join us for this rare opportunity to hear from the top Street Art Critic in the US.  Jim Daichendt is an art critic and journalist for KECT's Artbound, the nation's largest public television station and the The San Diego Union Tribune. In addition, he is the chief editor of the academic journal, Visual Inquiry: Learning and Teaching Art. Daichendt holds a doctorate from Columbia University and graduate degrees from Harvard and Boston universities.  Not to be missed!


7 P.M. – 9:30 P.M. MONDAY, SEPT. 17

$70/$85 per person. Tickets available here
A fine dining experience with leaders from the world of art and theology  with performances by poet and author Micheal O'Siadhail, composer and author Jeremie Begbie.  DINNER FEATURES: A three course Celtic-inspired menu from Barnett's Chef Elizabeth Pannabecker paired with wines from Barnett's exclusive wine library, beer selections from Brotherwell Brewing, and a whisky tasting with Balcones


11 A.M. – 1:30 P.M. SATURDAY, SEPT. 22

$38 per person. Tickets available here

Join us for a special twist on southern eats & hospitality as Luna Juice Catering appeases our palates with a myriad of delicious brunch items inspired by color & craft. Enjoy Chef Summer's vegetarian spin on a southern classic, Chicken & Waffles, paired with fresh brunch bellinis.


6 P.M. – 7 P.M. THURSDAY, SEPT. 27

Free and open to the public.
Q&A-style panel discussion with co-curators of exhibition “Writing on the Wall,” including star of “Saving Banksy” Brian Greif, Creative Waco executive director Fiona Bond, Cultivate 7Twelve director Rebekah Hagman.


6 P.M. – 7:30 P.M. FRIDAY, SEPT. 28

$12 per person. Tickets available here
Extended lecture, discussion and Q&A with prominent art collector and star of “Saving Banksy,” Brian Grief. Includes light bites and drinks courtesy of Luna Juice Catering. 


10 A.M. – 12 P.M. SATURDAY, SEPT. 29

$5 per person. Tickets available here
Celebrate the closing of the “Writing on the Wall” exhibition with Brian Greif. Includes pastries and coffee. 

13 chances to see the award-winning Baylor Symphony Orchestra

By Bradi Zapata
Marketing & PR Intern

This post is an extension of the Conversations with Creative Waco radio program on 103.3 KWBU fm, where we take you behind the scenes of art and culture in Waco. Catch us live on the fourth and fifth Friday of every month at 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Stephen Heyde, The Mary Franks Thompson Professor of Orchestral Studies and Director of Orchestral Activities at Baylor University, and Music Director/Conductor of the Waco Symphony. Photo provided by Stephen Heyde.

 Baylor Symphony Orchestra.  Photo property of Baylor Media Communications

Baylor Symphony Orchestra. Photo property of Baylor Media Communications

Baylor Symphony Orchestra celebrated its four time consecutive win of the American Prize in Orchestral Performance in the College/University Division this summer. The Baylor Symphony is the first ensemble across the competition to win first place for four consecutive years in a single category, which is significant because the American Prize recognizes musicians ranging from the high school to professional levels. Leading the Baylor Symphony Orchestra is Stephen Heyde, The Mary Franks Thompson Professor of Orchestral Studies and Director of Orchestral Activities at Baylor University, and Music Director/Conductor of the Waco Symphony.

On this episode of Conversations with Creative Waco, Stephen dissects the role of a conductor and shares what the American Prize win means to him and the ensemble. Stephen has conducted festival orchestras throughout the country and has been involved in music for more than 50 years.

The Baylor Symphony Orchestra is set to start the school year off strong with their first concert on Sept. 27, but the fun doesn’t stop there. There are more than a dozen opportunities to see this noteworthy ensemble throughout the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 season.

Major performances by Baylor Symphony Orchestra:

  • 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m. on Sept. 27 at Baylor University’s Jones Concert Hall in the Glennis McCrary Music Building.

  • 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, 2019 at Baylor University’s Jones Concert Hall in the Glennis McCrary Music Building.

  • 7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. on May 2, 2019 at Baylor University’s Jones Concert Hall in the Glennis McCrary Music Building.

These events are free of charge and open to the public.


Collaborations between Baylor Symphony Orchestra and various ensembles:

  • 7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. on Oct. 8 at Baylor University’s Jones Concert Hall in the Glennis McCrary Music Building. Baylor Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the Baylor Campus Orchestra. This performance is free.

  • 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 13 at Baylor University’s Jones Concert Hall in the Glennis McCrary Music Building. Baylor Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the Baylor A Cappella Choir. This performance is free.

  • 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. on Nov. 6 at Baylor University’s Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. Baylor Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the Baylor Opera Theater. Tickets for this concert will be available at the Baylor University Theater Department’s Box Office. Call 710-1865 or email theatreboxoffice@baylor.edu for additional information.

  • 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. on Nov. 7 at Baylor University’s Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. Baylor Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the Baylor Opera Theater. Tickets for this concert will be available at the Baylor University Theater Department’s Box Office. Call 710-1865 or email theatreboxoffice@baylor.edu for additional information.

  • 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 at Baylor University’s Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. Baylor Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the Baylor Opera Theater. Tickets for this concert will be available at the Baylor University Theater Department’s Box Office. Call 710-1865 or email theatreboxoffice@baylor.edu for additional information.

  • 2 p.m.-4 p.m. on Nov. 11 at Baylor University’s Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. Baylor Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the Baylor Opera Theater. Tickets for this concert will be available at the Baylor University Theater Department’s Box Office. Call 710-1865 or email theatreboxoffice@baylor.edu for additional information.

  • 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 at Baylor University’s Jones Concert Hall in the Glennis McCrary Music Building. Baylor Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the combined choirs for the annual “A Baylor Christmas.” Tickets will be available at https://www.baylor.edu/studentactivities/index.php?id=944508.

  • 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 at Baylor University’s Jones Concert Hall in the Glennis McCrary Music Building. Baylor Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the combined choirs for the annual “A Baylor Christmas.” Tickets will be available at https://www.baylor.edu/studentactivities/index.php?id=944508.

  • 3 p.m.-5 p.m. on Dec. 2  at Baylor University’s Jones Concert Hall in Baylor Universities Glennis McCrary Music Building. Baylor Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the combined choirs for the annual “A Baylor Christmas.” Tickets will be available at https://www.baylor.edu/studentactivities/index.php?id=944508.

These events are open to the public.

Baylor Symphony Orchestra will also present a Children’s Concert on Nov. 13 at Baylor University’s Waco Hall, but this event is only available for fourth and fifth grade elementary school children.

Taking Flight: a farewell to ArtPrenticeship 2018

By Stefanie Wheat-Johnson
ArtPrenticeship Project Manager

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 Left: Join us for the official Mural Wrap Party and enjoy food, music, and origami! Above: Family and friends of ArtPrenticeship artists and students got a first look at "1,000 Hopes for Waco" after its completion earlier this month.  Photo property of Waco Tribune-Herald.

Left: Join us for the official Mural Wrap Party and enjoy food, music, and origami! Above: Family and friends of ArtPrenticeship artists and students got a first look at "1,000 Hopes for Waco" after its completion earlier this month. Photo property of Waco Tribune-Herald.


When you grow and nurture a living thing, you must have a vision of what will take shape. This is true whether you’re a gardener planting a sapling tree, or a new parent meeting your infant and then guiding her toward maturity. All endevours that require this tending and nurturing have learning seasons and times of challenge or growth. This summer, it has been a true delight to witness the ARTPrenticeship program take shape and become a living and breathing, powerful force. It’s claimed a space in Waco and has left a beautiful mark on our city’s landscape and soul.

The souls for whom this program has had the primary impact are now preparing for their senior year in Waco ISD. Our apprentices took hold of the vision shared by mentors, and made it their own. Each one of these young people has left an indelible mark on the star of ARTPrenticeship, Creative Waco, and all of our partners. I find myself humbled, joyful and deeply satisfied when I think of our overall collaborative effort.

In the span of a summer, with remarkable and invaluable support from our community, I had the privilege of connecting the dots and creating the right structures to support out mentor artists and 10 apprentices in their work. Many things went according to plan, and the things that did not were overcome or our adaptations became an improvement to our original vision. Those of us in the mentor positions grew and learned right alongside these high school students and their voices made this experience a truly rich one. With each task accomplished, skill learned and goal completed, we could see a part of our present and future city connecting and soothing themselves in work that they took pride in.

While all of this great (challenging, hot, sweaty) labor was happening on our work site, there was an equally significant work happening off site. This work manifested itself in the generosity and encouragement of supporters and sponsors, and in the plain old enthusiasm of anyone and everyone who connected with the project. Each of you lifted up our apprentices and helped them see themselves in new light. Thank you. There is nothing like sharing a vision and then seeing it spread! As we move toward the launch event to celebrate our first completed mural, we’re already beginning to plan and dream again. I believe that ARTPrenticeship has a special part to play in the growth and change in Waco today. It inspires, challenges and connects us as humans in community and celebrates the best in us all.

The stories of these young people are writ large and embedded across a vibrant and breathtaking canvas on 2nd and Jackson in downtown Waco. Their stories, imprinted on our hearts, are paired with their hard earned determination and growing confidence. They have so much to be proud of when they see those stunning forms on the wall come together. They have memories with each other and their generous artist mentors and the skills they gained. Their resumes will speak clearly for them, their hearts and minds are primed for more creative work and they’re one step closer to being who they are each meant to be. The work was the mural, but the mural was in some ways only a lovely by-product of this project; I can’t wait to see what happens next for each of our apprentices and artists.

This is new. This is not your typical internship or arts program. It gets your attention and astonishes you at what can be achieved. The vision I hold in my mind’s eye is of ARTPrenticeship becoming a bold and beautiful voice in the chorus of artists and creative opportunities that work together in Waco. With our city’s youth at its core - it has the power to heal, grow and connect like nothing else. For myself, this project has lifted me up, provided me with new vision and renewed passion. I am deeply thankful to have been a part of seeing 1,000 Hopes take flight this summer.

ArtPrenticeship: team near end of mural work

By Rae Jefferson
Director of Marketing and Communications

With much planning, diligence, and sweat, the ArtPrenticeship team of four teaching artists and 10 apprentices is more than halfway through the summer internship program. They've made great strides over the past several weeks despite several days of rain and are nearly finished with the mural. Below you'll see young creatives hard at work, as well as some of the incredible sponsors who popped in to see how things were going. These generous partners have agreed to supply a $600 stipend for each student at the conclusion of the program, helping Creative Waco reach its goal of paying a meaningful wage to every artist we work with — regardless of age.

You can see the mural-in-progress at 315 S. University Parks Drive, in the same shopping strip as the new Bicycle World. Keep up with our progress on Facebook or on Instagram at @ArtPrenticeship.

ArtPrenticeship: delighting in the creative journeys of young artists

By Stefanie Wheat-Johnson
Project Manager, ArtPrenticeship

The dining room table is littered with paper, books and crumpled birds. The afternoon light catches an array of patterns over the beautiful paper, and makes my daughter’s auburn hair gleam. She is studious and diligent with her lips pressed firmly together in concentration and enthusiasm. My heart is so full when I think of her, folding and making and folding again. In the past seven years, my delight has been in parenting three children who glory in making and doing. It is one of the most satisfying aspects of being a mother - seeing them tell stories with whatever is at hand. As a creative who has not always found her footing easily, I have developed a quiet determination to nurture artists at any age on their journey. This summer it is my delight and honor to facilitate a program in which young creatives will get the opportunity to collaborate and tell part of Waco’s story under the guidance of four artists who share this passion for nurturing our young artists and serving our community.

Stefanie's youngest daughter joins the apprentices in designing shirts.

Stefanie with two of her children.

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Creative Waco, with the support of the Chamber of Commerce, has chosen to pilot the ArtPrenticeship program this year in the hopes that this will afford a myriad of opportunities for young people in the Waco ISD and professional artists in our community to create work of public art that will reflect and elevate our neighborhoods. The intended end product of this work is a beautifully designed and well executed mural in downtown Waco. This is a wonderful chance for Waco’s youth to engage with the public, develop skills and relationships that will only deepen with time, and afford them a chance to collaborate in telling a story through art in a public space.

The morning light is pouring through the windows into the airy second story studio space at Cultivate 712 and illuminating tables covered in paper, pencils and a colorful variety of markers. There are heads bowed over sketch books and animated voices discussing how to translate dreams and stories, images and reveries onto the paper in front of them.This is week two of ARTPrenticeship. We’ve hired 10 brilliant and passionate young artists through Prosper Waco and Waco ISD’s internship program, and already we are seeing just how they will fit into this beta test. We’re hearing some clever and intuitive minds open up and share their stories with each other and each of our apprentices has a vision of what Waco is to them. This summer, we’re privileged to hear and see some of that take form.

Among the dreams, there have already been opportunities for our apprentices to hear from local experts in varied fields about what it takes to prepare a site for a mural, how to engage with business owners and entrepreneurs from any line of work, and they’ve learned how to present themselves in a professional manner. Conversations about how artists really get work and support themselves have taken place, and a whole new world is being fleshed out before them. While they’re learning, they’re constantly challenging our team to be our best selves and to grow alongside them. Iron sharpening iron is a metaphor we’ve mentioned to each other more than once as we see dreams meet reality in light of learning new skill. The interaction strengthens all and prepares a great foundation for the work of bringing vision to life.

In my role as project manager, I’m delighting in the same joys I see in my home. This discovery of new concepts, a clarification of old ones, and a deepening of understanding and desire for growth and skill is unfolding right in front of me. Alongside our four mentor artists, I get the privilege of witnessing these young people bravely step up and volunteer their abilities and work hard to learn what all creatives must learn in order to reflect their community and tell their stories; they are learning to listen and to collaborate, and they are sharing their gifts and challenging their weaknesses. We are only at the beginning but what I see before us as we enter our design week, and support them through preparation to paint this mural, is beautiful.

Before the end of this month, all of Waco will see this work take shape as they enter downtown for work or pleasure, and visitors to our city will join us in witnessing the beginning of what I hope is a work with great future here. In the morning light, Monday through Thursday, these young people have committed to putting paint on walls and discipling themselves to follow technique that will create a quality work that will move us all. In the same way our mentors and staff are holding and sustaining these young creatives, I can feel our community gathering around to do the same from all directions. Each day our team remarks to one another, “it’s been a great day, and it’s only going to get better”. And that is what moves me: seeing each other, connecting and growing together, getting better, bringing color to the world around us and remembering why we are all here. Thanks for nurturing us.

New mural program gives creative reins to Waco teens

By Magen Davis
Public Relations Graduate Intern

By the end of this summer, downtown Waco will be home to a new mural.  But unlike existing pieces in the area, this work of art will be crafted by an unlikely group of creatives: 10 Waco ISD high school students working alongside a team of professional artist mentors.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • ArtPrenticeship is an internship program organized by Creative Waco, Prosper Waco and Waco ISD that will teach a group of 10 Waco ISD high school students, or apprentices, the ins and outs of managing a creative project.
  • Four artist mentors will guide the apprentices from concept to completion, designing and painting a mural on the side of a newly completed building in downtown Waco.
  • We're in search of wage sponsors to serve as an accountability partner for performance throughout the summer and help provide compensation for each apprentice at the end of the program.

Students spent the first week painting their official ArtPrenticeship t-shirts to get their creative gears turning.

Students formed goals to guide their participation in the summer mural program.

ArtPrenticeship has roots in the Cincinnati ArtWorks program that Waco leaders learned about on a Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce intercity visit in September 2017. ArtWorks employs professional artists and apprentices ranging from ages 14 to 21 to complete public art projects across Cincinnati, including hundreds of murals on the sides of buildings that are several stories tall.

Creative Waco has borrowed this model and shaped it to fit our own community. ArtPrenticeship is a unique opportunity for creative students to hone their artistic abilities while also learning professional skills necessary to thrive as an independent artist. Emphasis will be placed on safety while working on a mural jobsite, calculating costs, ordering materials, and the importance of collaboration and communication between artist, client and community.

The students will work between several sites across downtown Waco, with most time spent at the mural site at 315 University Parks Drive, a shopping strip next to Bicycle World.

For our program’s pilot year, the students were selected from a diverse pool of applicants through Prosper Waco and Waco ISD’s summer internship program. Two teaching artists and two assistant artists will guide the apprentices through the mural process. Between them are several years of teaching experience, as well as expertise in a wide range of artistic media, including mural installation and painting.

One goal of ArtPrenticeship is to pay all participating students a meaningful wage. Creative Waco is in search of wage sponsors at $600 per student. Sponsorships not only provide a financial reward for program completion, but also ensure accountability for their productivity throughout the program. If you'd like to make a donation toward an apprentice's wage, please click here or email us at info@creativewaco.org.

Creative Waco would like to extend a special thanks to our sponsors: Baylor Philanthropy, Cooper Foundation, Magnolia Foundation, Waco Public Improvement District (beautification grant), Mitchell Construction, Turner Behringer Development, Terry and Elaine Stevens, 1519LLC, and Langerman Foster Engineering. ArtPrenticeship would not be possible without the enthusiastic support and resources we've received from these businesses and community leaders.

5 ways to celebrate Juneteenth & black culture in Waco this summer

By Rae Jefferson
Director of Marketing and Communications

This post is an extension of the Conversations with Creative Waco radio program on 103.3 KWBU fm, where we take you behind the scenes of art and culture in Waco. Catch us live on the fourth and fifth Friday of every month at 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

On June 19, 1865, news of black emancipation from slavery made its way to the furthest corners of Texas. This event would later come to be known as Juneteenth, an American holiday especially celebrated by communities in the south. Waco's annual Juneteenth Weekend Extravaganza is the largest celebration of African-American heritage in Waco, drawing a diverse crowd from across the Central Texas region and beyond to celebrate the importance of health, family, and creative identity in black communities.

On this week's episode of Conversations with Creative Waco, we chat with Juneteenth coordinator Sophia Strother about how the festival, slated for June 15-17, has expanded to celebrate more aspects of black culture than ever before. From an internationally recognized musical guest to a brand new scholarship pageant, the Juneteenth Extravaganza is bigger in every way. All members of the community are invited to join the weekend of celebrations! Check out each linked facebook event for time and location details.

1. Mr & MIss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant // Friday, June 15
A new event, the scholarship pageant will provide $5,000 in scholarship awards to a male and female high school student from the Waco area. The pageant will be held at the Waco Hippodrome, providing the perfect stage for students to earn the title of Mr or Miss Juneteenth through singing, dancing, acting, spoken word, and poetry. The winners will also be provided with resources like college tours, college prep resources, and etiquette skills. This event is free to the public.

2. Family Fun Day feat. Dru Hill // Saturday, June 16
The longest running portion of the festival, Family Fun Day will include food, art, and musical performances by Dru Hill, Bigg Robb, and more. Additionally, the event aims to raise awareness of various health issues in the African-American community, so there will also be a number of community and health services provided by festival sponsors. Pre-sale tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.

3. Black Bold Art Exhibition // Saturday, June 16
This new showcase of black artistry will take place during Family Fun Day. The exhibition is being curated by the Central Texas Artist Collective, or CTAC, a local group of professional artists in the McLennan County area, and aims to shine light on the forgotten history of African-Americans. Curators are accepting works from black artists across Texas.

4. Father's Day Gospel Blowout // Sunday, June 17
The final event of the Juneteenth Weekend Extravaganza will be the Father's Day Gospel Blowout. The celebration will use music to recognize fathers, father figures, and black families on Father's Day. Grammy-winning gospel musician Myron Butler will headline the free event, along with performances from community groups.

5. Juneteenth Parade // Saturday, June 16
Although it isn't technically part of the Juneteenth Weekend Extravaganza, the annual Juneteenth Parade will be from 9-11:30 a.m .on Saturday, June 16, before Family Fun Day begins. The parade is a beloved community tradition organized by the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce, and is another fantastic way to celebrate the creativity and culture of African-Americans in our city.

CwCW: 6 ways to get involved with the Waco Civic Theatre

By Madeleine Morren
Communications Intern

This post is an extension of the Conversations with Creative Waco radio program on 103.3 KWBU fm, where we take you behind the scenes of art and culture in Waco. Catch us live on the fourth and fifth Friday of every month at 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

 Image courtesy of the Waco Civic Theatre

Image courtesy of the Waco Civic Theatre

 Image courtesy of the Waco Civic Theatre

Image courtesy of the Waco Civic Theatre

There’s a popular saying among the theater community that there are no small parts. For many decades, the Waco Civic Theatre has worked diligently to ensure everyone in the community has a part to play, whether it’s acting on stage or helping behind the scenes. The non-profit is dedicated to bringing quality live theater while providing a creative outlet to the community.

On this week’s Conversations with Creative Waco, the Waco Civic Theatre’s executive director Eric Shephard talks about the exciting upcoming season, and how the support of those willing will be crucial. So tune in today at 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. on 103.3 KWBU fm to find out how you can get involved!

Keep reading to learn what’s in store for the WCT’s new season and how you can get your tickets.

“The Wizard of Oz” July 19 – 29. The classic tale is making its way to the stage and you could be a part of it! Join Dorothy, Toto and WCT as they venture into the land of Oz this summer. But I think we all can agree there’s no place like Waco.

“Newsies”–Sept. 7 – 17. Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The newsies will be taking over and they don’t mess around. Join them in taking a stand against the money-hungry publishers of New York!

“Once”– Nov. 9 – 18. From a beautiful relationship comes beautiful music. Don’t miss WCT’s take on this musical drama that’s sure to melt any music-lover’s heart.

“Steel Magnolias”–Jan. 25 – Feb. 3. WCT is taking us down south to join the feisty ladies of Louisiana. It’s sure to be a night filled with love, loss and a whole lot of laughs. 

“Shakespeare in Love”– March 22 – 31. You don’t have to love Shakespeare to enjoy “Shakespeare in Love.” Adapted by Lee Hall from the 1998 film, the story follows a young Shakespeare and how he came to find his muse.

“Mamma Mia”– May 3 – 19 . What better way to kick off the summer than with ABBA? So for all you dancing queens out there, it’s time to take a chance on “Momma Mia!”

Tickets and additional information about auditions and how to get involved can be found at the Waco Civic Theatre’s website.

6 events to make your April more cultural & creative

By Madeleine Morren
Communications Intern                                                                                                                        

April is not over yet and Waco has a lot of creative events left to enjoy! So shake off that last bit of winter chill and explore the stimulating culture in the community. From musical ensembles and art exhibits, to concert series and comedy, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Here you’ll find a list of only 6 events to get you started, but more things and event details can be found at the Waco CVB Calendar of Events, so you can enjoy everything Waco has to offer this spring.

Annual Juried Student Exhibit- April 13-15

The Martin Museum of Art will be hosting this unique exhibit showcasing Baylor University’s professors, graduate students and staff. It will be a great opportunity to admire the work these artists have put in all semester. Admission is free and details of the event can be found at the Martin Museum’s website.

Baylor University Theatre presents: Cabearet- April 13

It’s a busy weekend for Baylor! Join the Baylor Theatre program tonight at the Hooper-Shaefer Fine Arts Center as they perform in “Cabearet.” Admission to the show is “pay-what-you-can,” with the proceeds benefitting the Leta Horan and Jerry MacLauchlin Endowed Scholarship. Visit Baylor theaters website for more information.

Rootstock: A Texas Wine Festival- April 14

The Rootstock Wine Festival is back for its third year! Join Valley Mills Vineyards Saturday at Indian Spring Park to enjoy some of the best wine in Texas. If you’re looking to grow your knowledge of wine, this is the place to be. Visit their website for ticket information.

Cocktails with the curator: an evening at Cultivate 7Twelve- April 19

This month’s Cocktails with the Curator will join Rhiannon Rosenbaum and featured artist Brad Settles. It’s going to be a great opportunity to meet the artist behind this month’s landscape exhibit. You can ask questions and hear the stories behind the pieces and enjoy a glimpse into the artist’s process. Spots are limited so RSVP today and enjoy Cocktails with the Curator free of charge!

Baylor University’s Jazz Ensemble- April 19

Baylor University will be hosting a night filled with live jazz music at Jones Concert Hall. Conductor and senior lecturer Alex Parker will lead nineteen of Baylor’s student-musicians. So if you like free concerts and jazz music, you will love this ensemble.  

Brazos Nights: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy- April 20

One of the things I love most about Waco is the live music. Brazos Nights is a summer-long, FREE concert series, and it begins here! Big Bad Voodoo Daddy starts the series off at Indian Spring Park. Check out their Facebook to see more information.

Special thanks to Waco CVB for their contribution. Visit wacoheartoftexas.com/events for non-arts events and to stay up-to-date with events as they're added.

Top four reasons to check out this year's summer camp calendar

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By: Madeleine Morren, Communications Intern

Summer vacation is almost here and we have just the thing for parents and kids looking for something fun to do, besides your daily trip to the pool. Waco is filled with various creative summer programs for kids, and we’ve got them all in one place! Here are four reasons to check out this year’s summer camp calendar:


It’s free and easy to use

One of our goals at Creative Waco is to facilitate the connection between the community and its creative culture. Our online calendar makes it easy to find the perfect fit for each unique child using searchable key words like date, age, grade, and topic. Or if it’s easier for you to browse, you can see all of the programs available on one page. Now it’s easier than ever to make a decision and you don’t have to worry about missing out on a single opportunity.


There is something for everyone

The beauty of our summer camp calendar is that it’s not limited to programs focused on artistic talents. There are countless ways for kids to explore their creativity and what they enjoy the most. There are programs for art, music, photography, sports, dance, electronic game design and even robotics. There’s really no limit to what kids can do this summer.


Keep kids active and engaged

Research shows that students suffer cumulative learning loss when they are not educationally engaged throughout the summer. Studies have also proven that the environment of summer programs help kids learn faster than in classrooms during the school year. Summer programs help kids build on characteristics that will serve them in the future, like resiliency, teamwork and decision-making. In this day and age, it’s hard enough to get the younger generations away from their phones and the different technologies, so make it easy for them to unplug and engage!  


Stay local

Cross-country road trips and summers abroad are not always feasible, especially if you’re on a budget. Summer programs are a fun and easy way to get kids off the couch and get them outside this summer. It will give them something to look forward to without having to go very far and will help connect them to their community. 

CwCW: 6 ways the Art Center is a champion for the arts

By Rae Jefferson
Director of Marketing and Communications

This post is an extension of the Conversations with Creative Waco radio program on 103.3 KWBU fm, where we take you behind the scenes of art and culture in Waco. Catch us live on the fourth and fifth Friday of every month at 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

 "The Waco Door" | Sculpture by Robert Wilson | Located in the ACW Sculpture Garden

"The Waco Door" | Sculpture by Robert Wilson | Located in the ACW Sculpture Garden

 Photos courtesy of the Art Center of Waco

Photos courtesy of the Art Center of Waco

If you've been part of the Waco community long enough, it's likely you've heard of the Art Center of Waco. If you're lucky, you've even had the chance to experience some of the creative programming they faithfully bring to the Waco community.

The Art Center is a nonprofit arts organization with a long history of challenging barriers to arts programming for all areas of our city. Meg Gilbert, Art Center director, talks about both the labor and joy of bringing art to the community on Conversations with Creative Waco, today at 11:30 a.m and 8 p.m. on 103.3 KWBU fm.

Read on to find out a bit more about the Art Center and how they are proudly championing the arts in our community.

  1. Traveling Art Expedition. One of the newest programs to come out of the Art Center, Art Expedition is a fantastic program that brings a mobile art gallery to area schools. A trailer truck has been filled with pieces created by local arts educators, and outfitted with lighting and fixtures that mimic a gallery. The experience shows students that a career in the arts is possible while giving them a taste of what a gallery experience is like. 
  2. Rotating exhibitions featuring local and regional artists. Sadly, there aren't any exhibitions currently on display because the Art Center vacated their building on MCC's campus due to safety concerns this past fall. However, they are currently officing out of Cultivate 7TWELVE (712 Austin Ave.) and may have exhibitions in this space and others in the future. Keep up with them to get updates on their building search and any pop-up exhibitions in the future.
  3. Accessible summer camps for kids. The center offers a wealth of summer camps for elementary to high school students. Campers learn the history and craft of things like printmaking, sculpting, painting and more. The Art Center works hard to make their programming widely accessible, so one of the best features of their summer program is that they offer a limited number of scholarships each year. (Check out Creative Waco's Summer Camp Calendar to see all the Art Center listings, as well as creative camps offered by other creative, educational, and community organizations.)
  4. Art classes for adults. From weaving to ceramics, the Art Center has a history of offering a wide variety of creative courses for adults. Although course offerings change throughout the year, there is almost always something new to try. Classes, schedules, and registration info are listed on their website.
  5. Art classes for children. Because much of the Art Center's programming focuses on children, it only makes sense that they offer creative classes for kids year-round. At Art Lab, students are invited to learn about the history and processes of creating art before trying their hand at creativity. These affordable courses ($12/90-minute class) can be viewed in detail on their website.
  6. Community engagement through volunteering. The center is always open to allowing community members serve in creative facets. From art education to community events, volunteers are able to support the organization's mission using their own creative strengths. Check out their volunteer page to get connected!

Top 10 things to do in the Cultural District

By Madeleine Morren
Communications Intern 

For those looking to stay local this spring break, Waco has a plethora of fun activities to do, particularly in the Waco Downtown Cultural District. Officially designated by the state of Texas in 2016, the cultural district is filled with local businesses that each bring a unique flair to the artistic and cultural life of Waco. Check out these 10 ways to get in on the action:

  1. Hear live music. Live music is a huge part of cultural experiences. It helps people come together and enjoy great music from local musicians as well as performers from across the nations. Some great places to hear live music in the area are the Backyard Bar Stage & GrillCultivate 7Twelve, Austin’s on the Avenue, Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits and the Waco Hippodrome.

    Brazos Nights is a music festival held in Downtown Waco from April to July that features artists from across the nation. Families and friends can come and enjoy delicious food from local food trucks and listen to great music!
  2. See public art. Some of the best things about the downtown area of Waco are the murals across numerous buildings. Not only do they bring color to downtown, they help bring beauty to what were once old and decrepit buildings. It’s worth jumping in the car with some friends and taking a mini mural tour.

  3. Attend a festival. Whether you are a foodie, movie guru or art lover, Waco has a festival for everyone. Downtown Waco will be hosting the Texas Food Truck Showdown this month on March 17. Later this year, the Wine & Food Festival will have over 200 wines to taste and delicious food to eat!  

    The Deep in the Heart Film Festival is also later this month, from March 22-25. The film festival will have short and feature films, workshops and panels with the filmmakers.

    The visual art in the area plays a huge part in defining the creative atmosphere in Waco. Waco Cultural Arts Fest and Art on Elm are two of Waco’s art festivals that feature extraordinary work from local artists as well as state, national and international artists.

    This summer The Juneteenth Family Fun Day Weekend will be considered the largest celebration weekend in Central Texas dedicated to the empowerment and independence of African Americans.

  4. Eat delicious food. Cooking is an art in itself, and the masterpieces are delicious! The wide variety of food styles in the area is an indicator of the versatility of Waco’s culture. A few of the restaurants in the district you don’t want to miss are Portofino’s, Stone Hearth Indian Café, Dichotomy and Clay Pot–Waco’s only Vietnamese restaurant.

  5. View and buy art. The art festivals are not the only time you will have the opportunity to see fantastic art pieces. Make a trip to Cultivate 7Twleve, where you can enjoy art exhibits and buy handmade work. There are also a number of shops and restaurants selling art straight off the walls, such as Klassy Glass Wine Bar & Bistro, Dichotomy, Waco Winery Tasting Room & Rooftop Patio, Interior Glow, Papillon Antiques, Christi's and Gather Waco.

  6. See a craftsperson at work. There are a number of places to see Waco's creative minds at work. For starters, fans of jewelry crafting can see the process at Virage Goldsmiths and Summer Ellis Bijouterie, which shares space with another shop on the first floor of the historic Praetorian building.

    A unique characteristic of art gallery Cultivate 7Twelve is their upstairs space. Once you have enjoyed all the artwork displayed in their exhibit downstairs, you are encouraged to tour the upstairs workspace. There you will find artists and artisans hard at work on new pieces. Watching these masters at work will give you a much deeper appreciation for their art, and it’s a fun way to get to know your favorite artists! 

  7. Find beautiful jewelry. A cultural district is full of people creating new things. You will not find handmade jewelry anywhere else like the what’s made in the cultural district. Pop into places like Virage, Summer Ellis, Spice Village and Roots Boutique for one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry!

  8. Sample locally-made alcohol. The downtown area is full of fun places where you can enjoy local wine, beer and even whisky! So if you get tired from all the shopping and sight-seeing, sit down with some friends and enjoy a few drinks at places like Waco Winery Tasting Room & Rooftop Patio, Klassy Glass Wine Bar & Bistro, Waco Wine Shoppe and Balcones Distillery. 

  9. Sip some locally-brewed coffee. But if you’re thirsty for something a little less stiff, there are other great places that serve locally brewed coffee and tea! So for all you coffee-drinkers and tea-lovers out there, you will definitely want to try Dichotomy Wine & Spirits. BRÛ Artisan Coffee Works is a great place to enjoy a cappuccino while shopping for home furnishings, and Pinewood Coffee Roasters is a unique twist on the bar scene.

  10. Pamper yourself. Although food and art are essential parts of any cultural district, Waco's cultural district also includes businesses focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Businesses like Cultivate 7Twelve and Yoga Bar offer classes that help balance the body and the mind while keeping you in great shape. If the pressures from work or school have gotten the best of you, take some time for yourself at places like Pure Elite Spa and On the Avenue Salon and Blow Out Bar

This blog post is part of a series of "Top 10" articles for the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau. See a full list and calendar of events at the convention center website. Keep up with things to do around the Waco Downtown Cultural District with the official Waco app. Search "Waco" in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

CwCW: 5 reasons to get excited about Deep in the Heart Film Festival

By Rae Jefferson & Louis Hunter
Director of Marketing and Communications & Deep in the Heart Film Festival Co-Founder

This post is an extension of the Conversations with Creative Waco radio program on 103.3 KWBU fm, where we take you behind the scenes of art and culture in Waco. Catch us live on the fourth and fifth Friday of every month at 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

One of the best things about Waco's cultural sector is the variety of talent and art forms that can be found in our city! Last year was the first time a city-wide film festival took place, and it quickly proved to be an important event for the artistic life of Waco. Deep in the Heart Film Festival is back for its second year, and there's even more in store this time around. Snag your tickets for the event, scheduled for March 22-25 at the Waco Hippodrome and other locations in Waco.

Tune in to Conversations with Creative Waco, as we sit down with Louis Hunter, co-founder of DHFF, and talk about all the new things festival-goers can expect this year. Listen today at 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. on 103.3 KWBU fm.

In the meantime, check out 5 reasons to get excited about Deep in the Heart Film Festival.

  1. There's something for everyone. There's family-friendly films, horror movies, comedies, documentaries... if you love movies, you'll find something to love at the festival. Check out the list of official selections on the DHFF website.
  2. You can't see these movies anywhere else. They're not common Hollywood films bankrolled by studios. These films are personal stories and passion projects. For them to make it on the festival circuit, they have to be audience-friendly, so they're high-quality pieces curated specifically for the Waco crowd.
  3. There are opportunities to learn about the craft. Discover the cutting edge of Virtual Reality filmmaking, and find out what it takes to make a feature film. The festival will feature a number of interactive and educational components for those who want to take their film festival experience a step further, making it perfect for professionals, students, and curious movie-goers.
  4. You can meet the filmmakers. Last year, filmmakers came to Waco from Hollywood, across the US, and even Paris. Austin, Dallas, and, of course, local moviemakers were present, as well. Deep in the Heart Film Festival is the only place in Waco to meet these actors, writers and directors and talk with them about their films.
  5. It's all about community. We all love movies. We all go to movies. This is a great way to enjoy good movies and dip your toe in the Waco art community. Not only to meet filmmakers, but to meet new friends as well!

Special thanks to Louis Hunter for his contributions to this blog post.

What to expect at this year's Art on Elm pop-up art exhibit

By Madeleine MorrenCommunications Intern



Art on Elm is much more than just a pop-up art exhibition. It will be a weekend filled with beautiful art, live music, guest speakers, delicious food and artisan vendors. Even if you are not an art aficionado, there is something for everyone at this cultural festival!


Local artists are invited to apply for a chance to be a part of the event. Artists can submit pieces for either the Juried Exhibition or for an artist booth, and artisans can apply for a spot in the Arts and Crafts Market. Applications can be found on the Art on Elm website and will be accepting submissions until March 15.  

The festival is April 6-7 located in historic East Waco and here are a few things you won’t want to miss:


Splash on the Color!

Pick out your most colorful outfit and kick off the weekend at the preview party, Splash on the color! It’s going to be a great way for the community to come together and celebrate the growth and vitality of the arts in Waco’s cultural district. There will also be live music, hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Tickets for the event can be purchased on the Art on Elm website.


The Juried Exhibition

Artists are allowed to submit a maximum of three pieces for a chance to have them displayed at ArtPlace on 418 Elm Ave. This is a great opportunity to see unique creations ranging from paintings and graphic designs to ceramics and sculptures by artists from across the state. The best part is you can buy some of the artwork!


Arts & Crafts Market

After walking through the gallery, head on outside and check out the Arts & Crafts Market. Artisan and food vendors will be set up along Elm Street selling crafts and delicious local food! 


Elm Tea Fest

For all the tea lovers out there–get ready. Because this is an event not just for tasting teas (though that is an added bonus), it’s about learning everything there is to know about tea. So even if you aren’t the biggest fan of teas, you can still come and enjoy learning about the history and culture of tea. And who knows, maybe even find one you like!


Details for each event can be found at the Art on Elm website  

How to be Creative Without Having to be Artistic

By: Madeleine Morren

Communications Intern

Growing up, I was always the butt of the joke in my family because I would rather go see a play, watch a movie or tour a museum than watch a football game. I come from a sports family. Three generations of quarterbacks, my mom ran marathons and my sister was a competitive cheerleader. Unfortunately I was not blessed with an athletic talent. My interests were geared more towards the arts.

Don’t get me wrong–I am no artist. Any painting or drawing of mine rivals the work of a toddler. I can’t play an instrument and the only time you will ever catch me singing is when I’m in the shower. I have two left feet so dancing is out of the question. But despite my lack of artistic talent, I still find incredible joy and influence from the creative work of others.

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My greatest inspiration comes from my favorite artist and best friend, Mary Catherine Davis. I have fifteen years worth of doodles, hand-painted birthday cards, and other artistic knick-knacks she probably doesn’t even remember giving me. I have been to every dance recital, every art show and every artistic function she was featured in. She took me to my first Broadway show. She introduced me to the Dallas Museum of Art. It’s safe to say she left a lasting impact.

My form of creative expression is writing and I hope to make a career out of it someday. Although there is almost a formulaic way to write anything in the business world, what sets apart a good writer from a great writer is how well they are able to tell a story. In order to tell a good story, you need a certain level of creativity. 

Mary Catherine taught me at a very young age that creative and artistic are not synonymous. You don’t need to be an artistic prodigy to find value and meaning in art forms. I found that creativity comes through whatever inspires you. My creative inspiration came through my friend's artwork, and through her I have found inspiration in numerous other artists, songs, paintings, dances and movements. Creative inspiration is all around us, we just have to look up every once and a while to see it.  

Now a senior art major at Ole Miss, Mary Catherine plans to attend graduate school and specialize in art therapy. She is taking her beautiful gift and using it to heal the pain of others. What could be more inspirational than that?  


CwCW: 12 Reasons to love Cultivate 7TWELVE

By Rae Jefferson
Director of Marketing and Communications

This post is an extension of the Conversations with Creative Waco radio program on 103.3 KWBU fm, where we take you behind the scenes of art and culture in Waco. Catch us live on the fourth and fifth Friday of every month at 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

 Photos courtesy of Cultivate 7TWELVE

Photos courtesy of Cultivate 7TWELVE

No one loves space more than Rebekah Hagman, but it’s not asteroids and star dust that she’s after. The director of art gallery Cultivate 7TWELVE recently moved to Waco and has made it her mission to create a home – a space – for artist and spectator alike in the heart of downtown Waco.

Cultivate 7TWELVE is operated by a passionate team of people sourced from various corners of the creative community in Waco. Join me on a deep dive into Rebekah’s passion and the mission of Cultivate 7TWELVE during the first episode of Conversations with Creative Waco at 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. today on 103.3 KWBU fm.

The gallery is a new edition to downtown, with its doors opening in fall of last year. The two-story building is bursting with creative energy and artistic opportunity. Read on to see why Cultivate 7TWELVE is a local space to love.

  1. It’s all local. Artwork displayed in the gallery is carefully curated to include some of the best work in Waco and McLennan County, shop goods are locally sourced, and events are hosted by and celebratory of Wacoans from all walks of life.
  2. The gallery exhibition changes every month. Because one of Cultivate 7TWELVE’s goals is to provide professional opportunities for local artists, exhibition pieces are switched out frequently. This ensures fresh viewings for art patrons, as well as more chances for different kinds of artists to get their work into the public sphere. Themes for upcoming exhibitions can be found on the gallery’s website.
  3. The shop is fully stocked with must-haves. As mentioned earlier, everything in the gallery’s shop is soured from locals. The inventory features items like art prints, kitchenware, books, jewelry, and stationery.
  4. There’s always something to do. The folks at Cultivate 7TWELVE work to provide a full calendar of events for each month. Farm-to-table dinners, live music performances, and intimate film screenings are just some of their offerings. Use the online calendar, like them on Facebook, and follow their Instagram to keep the gallery on your radar.
  5. There’s always something to learn. From yoga to brush lettering, Cultivate 7TWELVE offers a number of creative classes and is adding more all the time. Stay up-to-date with their online workshop listings to find classes for both children and adults.
  6. It began with a Creative Waco project and generosity from community partners. Cultivate 7TWELVE sprang up from a project started by Creative Waco last summer. Waco 52 was an exhibition featuring works from 52 different local artists (and available as a deck of cards). It opened in the building that now houses Cultivate 7TWELVE, which came to be after Rebekah and her husband, Jeremy, visited Waco 52 and formed a vision of what the space could be year-round.
  7. It houses the Creative Waco office. Last fall, Creative Waco moved into one of the second-floor workspaces. We’re neighbors with some of the most creative people in the city and get to see art in action just about anytime we want. If you’d ever like to chat with one of the awesome people on the Creative Waco team, feel free to pop in.
  8. It’s filled with artists from various backgrounds. The gallery is overflowing with talent ranging from filmmaking and design to painting and wood burning. The best part is that the Cultivate 7TWELVE artists are always eager to share their work with visitors. The workspaces are open for public viewing during the gallery’s hours of operation.
  9. It was originally a bakery. This is just a fun fact! The building was originally built in the early 1900s as a multi-level bakery complete with industrial brick ovens in the basement and dumbwaiters to transport goods to upper levels. There are still remnants of some of this equipment, so keep your eye out on your next visit.
  10. It still sells baked goods. Cultivate 7TWELVE offers a selection of cookies, breads, and other goods produced by Crowe’s Nest, a local home-kitchen bakery. Add some free WiFi to the mix, and the gallery becomes a great, quiet place to get work done.
  11. It’s a great place to network with other creatives. A number of collaborative projects have come out of the gallery because of the amount of creative talent working under one roof. Chat with Rebekah or any number of artists working at Cultivate 7TWELVE if you want help fleshing out an idea or just want to meet other folks engaged in the Waco arts community.
  12. It showcases how strongly the arts are thriving in Waco. All it takes is entering the building to see how many people are working under one roof to make art and support artists in Waco. From spectator to creator, there is a role for everyone to play, and Cultivate 7TWELVE works to make that possible.

A mammoth-sized find: how the local monument came to be

 Courtesy of Waco Mammoth National Monument and Dominick J. Cirincione

Courtesy of Waco Mammoth National Monument and Dominick J. Cirincione

By Rachel Nelson
Interpretive Park Ranger, NPS; 
Waco Mammoth National Monument

The year was 1978. Two teenage boys were hunting for arrowheads in a creek bed on the outskirts of Waco, Texas. While they were unsuccessful with their pursuit for Native American artifacts that day, their quest would not go unrewarded. They would uncover a mystery so huge, you might even refer to it as a mammoth-sized find that was the only one of its kind!

That’s the story of how Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin, both of Waco, accidently found the first Columbian Mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) bone at the Waco Mammoth National Monument. Their good fortune led to a team of experts and volunteers from Baylor University to uncover what the National Park Service refers to as “the nation’s first and only discovery of a nursery heard of Pleistocene Mammoths.” So far, paleontologists have unearthed 24 Columbian mammoths, three camels, and a few other Ice Age creatures. 

The real mysteries lie in why these animals chose to inhabit this area and what happened to them. Was it the climate that attracted them? Was it the landscape? What did they eat and drink when they were here? And the biggest questions of all, how and why did they perish? Visitors can enjoy guided ranger-led tours to see “in situ” remains (fossils left where they were discovered) and form their own hypotheses that may remedy these questions. Rangers share information about when these animals were roaming around Central Texas and what Ice Age life was like for them. 

Excavation at the site commenced in 1978 and was put on hold in 2001. Leaders within the City of Waco, Waco Mammoth Foundation, and Baylor University recognized the importance of preservation for the site. The partners’ mission was to protect the area and the fossil remains so future generations can enjoy them too. A successful fundraising campaign resulted in the Dig Shelter opening to the public on December 5, 2009. It is only one of two climate-controlled dig sites in the United States. At the same time, the partners appealed to Congress to declare Waco Mammoth a unit within the National Park Service. Their efforts were denied twice, however, on July 10, 2015, President Barack Obama proclaimed the site as Waco Mammoth National Monument through the Antiquities Act. This designation provides the protections needed in order to continue the site’s education and preservation missions. 

Guests can participate in guided tours of the dig site that begin every 30 minutes and last 45 minutes to an hour in length.  No reservations are required and small tour fees do apply. Rangers lead visitors from the Welcome Center down a 300-yard paved path to the Dig Shelter. The tour path is 100% accessible without steep grades or stairs. Golf cart assistance is available if needed. 

The site also features a half mile nature trail, the Eagle Trail, a tenth of a mile Deer Loop trail, and a picnic area to enjoy lunch outside. Visitors often bring binoculars to spot birds and other wildlife while visiting the park. The young and young-at-heart engage in educational activities, including the Waco Mammoth Junior Ranger Program. Check out the calendar page for more information about programs and events.

Located just 7 miles northwest of downtown Waco, Texas, the site is easily accessed from I-35. While in town, be sure to visit the Mayborn Museum at Baylor University for more educational fun. Guests also often make a stop at Magnolia, owned by HGTV’s Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines. For directions and more information about the area, please visit our website and Waco Heart of Texas tourism. We look forward to your visit!

A Small Miracle With Big-Picture Ripples

By Fiona Bond, Executive Director of Creative Waco

 (L to R) Claire Sexton & Meg Gilbert of Art Center of Waco, Jennings Sheffield of SPE and Rebekah Hagman of Cultivate 7Twelve

(L to R) Claire Sexton & Meg Gilbert of Art Center of Waco, Jennings Sheffield of SPE and Rebekah Hagman of Cultivate 7Twelve

This week, Waco’s arts community achieved a small miracle that will have big-picture repercussions for Waco’s reputation as a community with a vibrant, connected, and welcoming community of artists and emerging arts leaders. As a result, local artists are getting some unforeseen new opportunities and exposure.


Last week, a building survey revealed a structural emergency for the Art Center of Waco, located on MCC’s campus. Suddenly, one of our community’s flagship arts venues found itself without its facilities for offices, classes, school visits and a major exhibition they had partnered with a National Organization to bring to Waco.


This was potentially disastrous – not just for the Art Center, but for Waco’s reputation in the wider arts world. The (National) Society for Photographic Education (SPE) was poised to come to Waco this weekend for its Annual Conference for the South Central Region of the United States. The Art Center was set to host events and two exhibits of outstanding photographic work by some of our nation’s top photographers and their students.


I’m sure SPE members would have understood if this had to be cancelled “due to unforeseen circumstances”, but Waco’s growing reputation as an emerging and vibrant hub for art and artists would have withered a little in the process. But guess what? Within 24 hours, Waco’s network of artists and arts professionals had pulled together an outstanding solution that will send a powerful message to all those professional artists coming to our city for the conference. Even better, the conference-goers will have the added benefit of meeting local artists and seeing their work, too.


Kudos to Meg Gilbert, Claire Sexton and the team at the Art Center who worked tirelessly to make sure they could honor every commitment they had made to host this prestigious arts event in our community. Kudos to the team of local and regional SPE artists, professors and teachers who volunteered their time and worked late into many nights to plan and hang the exhibition in a brand new and very different venue. Kudos to Rebekah Hagman and the team at the brand new Cultivate 7Twelve art center (at 712 Austin Avenue), who said “yes” to hosting the SPE exhibition the day before she opened her new arts center to the public.


A special kudos goes to the artists and creatives based at Cultivate 7twelve who put their own artwork to one side in order to extend Waco-style hospitality to artists from beyond our community. Thankfully, they will be rewarded in ways they may not have anticipated. Their artwork will now be seen by SPE conference-goers and the collectors and buyers that accompany that event as well as by the stream of Silobration visitors to the downtown area.


This kind of leadership, co-operation and willingness to set aside the “me” for the “us” is a powerful signal to the wider world that Waco’s creative sector is becoming more confident, more strategic, and poised for breakthrough future developments.


YOU are invited:

In the meantime, Waco’s artists and art-lovers are invited to attend the SPE exhibition launch party from 6:30pm at Cultivate 7twelve this evening (Friday Oct 13) and to participate in (free) SPE conference sessions SEE DETAILS HERE.


There’s more:

This weekend’s visitors who travel the free Silo District Trolley will see not just Cultivate 7twelve, but a number of newly or recently opened galleries and businesses that display and promote work by local artists, artisans, and craftspeople. Every one of these has their own story of the ripple effect of a creative community on the rise. You can view all the places to buy local art/craft in Creative Waco’s new online CREATIVE DIRECTORY, which launched at last week’s awesome Waco Cultural ArtsFest.

 Staff, artists, and volunteers at  Cultivate 7twelve  toasting to success

Staff, artists, and volunteers at Cultivate 7twelve toasting to success