The Wichita Falls Art Alliance for Arts and Culture has accomplished so much in the way of bringing art to this community that it is difficult to believe that they have been active for less than two years. Some of the most notable projects have emerged from the summer art camps for kids. Last summer the Alliance commissioned 8 artists to work with kids on a bike painting project. This year they have stepped it up a notch by organizing 16 artists, each teaching a different skill, including music, photography, theater, and every other visual and performing art that they could find a teacher for. The WFAA director says of this project, “the experience kids got with working with artists was incredible, but the best part is the kids meet and work together.”
Directing The Alliance is Margie Reese. Margie is no newcomer to this task, as she has an extremely impressive resume of community and arts leadership. She served with the Dallas office of cultural affairs where she managed museums and other cultural facilities, eventually becoming the director and filling that position for 6 years. She was recruited to run the office of cultural affairs for the city of Los Angeles where she served under three consecutive mayors, which is a rare feat. From there she took a position in West Africa as a grant maker in Nigeria for media, arts, and culture for another three years. She then moved back to her home in Dallas where she was involved in the DFW arts community. That was her last position before moving to Wichita Falls to become the director of WFAA. Margie says, “I am sure that this is where I am supposed to be”.
Margie describes The Alliance as an enabling organization. “It’s our job to encourage and support our local artists and make their work visible to the community.” She goes on to say that it’s because of the very supportive board of directors and wonderful volunteers that this is possible. Volunteers like Erick Zambrano, who describes his work with the organization as “a great way to get in touch with the community”. He has been spending this summer delivering fence pickets and helping with the logistics of the Don’t Fence Me In project.
The Don’t Fence Me In project encourages individuals to paint a single fence plank any way they choose and this will culminate with the final building of a fence that will be covered with the colors and designs of the entire participating community, showing that our individual preferences and style can become something quite different and useful when we all join together. The project’s title communicates awareness that we should not quickly judge and limit other’s potential, or categorize people in such a way as to limit them.
The Alliance has been holding fence plank painting events, with one final painting event on July 11 at the Wichita Falls Public Library from 1-5pm. The fence will be assembled on July 15 from 10am-12pm at Nexus Art Park (near Attebury between Kell East and West and bordered on the other sides by Austin and Travis). They are estimating between 800 to 1000 fence planks will have been painted and submitted by the time of assembly.
Bravo to the WFAA for its involvement and success in our community, and here’s wishing them many, many more years of excellence.