Art Center Waco Beginnings
Art Center Waco began on Franklin Avenue in downtown Waco in 1972 as The Art Center of Waco. It was formed for two main purposes: to assemble exhibitions which were noted for discovering emerging artists as well as showing established artists; and to art educate the people of Central Texas through classes, trips, lectures, and workshops. After three years of self-study, professional consultations, and procedural and physical refinements, on October 4, 1991, The Art Center of Waco received Accreditation from the American Association of Museums.
The dynamic director of Art Center Waco during the expansion period, 1972 to 1985, was Paul Rogers Harris, hired from the New York Museum of Modern Art education department. In July 1987, Art Center Waco hired director Joseph L. Kagle, Jr. from the Boston area after a national search. The Art Center Waco is directed by a Board of Trustees which meets monthly to establish policies, budgets, and administer the Center staff and volunteers.
The Art Center of Waco Association, an organization which began in the early years of Art Center Waco's history, was created to assist with receptions, fundraising events, mail-outs and other non-salaried tasks. It grew from 180 members in 1988 to 320 by 1990. To support the senior volunteers, in 1990 the Art Center Waco created the Junior Volunteers for ages 13-18 and who recorded 710 hours given by 37 volunteers in its first year and grew to 45 members in 1993. Volunteers continue to be an active resource in all Art Center Waco activities.
Waco's continued community outreach commitment to 15 sites in Central
Texas remains strong and community awareness and demand is stronger
than at any other time in the Center's history. The art education
outreach program tours 7500 school children through our galleries,
another 5000 on the sculpture path and 4000 in 17 sites around
Art Center Waco is located in the former residence of the William Cameron family, a beautiful location on the campus of McLennan Community College on the far west side of Waco. The grounds and view are one of the Center's real assets. Therefore, in 1995 the sculpture path was created on 1.6 acres from grants by the Madison Cooper, Bernard and Audre Rapoport, Fentress and Waco Foundations. Thirty-four sculptures are placed on the path (six permanent and 28 on two-year, rotating loan from Texas artists). The sculpture path has over 35 works of art, and takes advantage of a magnificent view of the Brazos and Bosque River valley. The path is open at any hour, night or day. All of the sculpture path is handicapped accessible.
The main exhibition space includes well-designed portable walls with the space is usually used to host two different exhibitions at the same time, both having to be small in scale. The MAP review report stated in 1989: "The natural daylight in the gallery areas is very restful and gives the spaces a comfortable, non-institutional feel. The upstairs classrooms and lecture space are large and flexible offering great views of the outdoors. Walls display reproductions of art that can be referenced by students working in the classes. A small library, drawing and preparatory studio, and office space are located downstairs". The outdoor courtyard is used for community and private social events.