Have you heard about the burgeoning art district downtown? Well it all started with the Wichita Falls Art Association Gallery. The gallery came to being as Jensen Gallery in the Holt Hotel on the corner of 8thStreet and Ohio Street. Brad and Donna Jensen opened it in 2010, but a year later, they had an elderly relative that needed help, so they packed up and left town. However, Brad still had another year on his lease.
Two board members from The Wichita Falls Art Association came up with the idea to run the gallery for the second year of Brad’s lease to try the waters and see if they could make it work. It was decided that the gallery would hang only its own member’s art, and that there would be a small hanging fee to offset the cost of rent, utilities and other cost incurred with running a business. The individual artists could sell their work from the gallery, and there would be no commission taken from any sale. Also, the gallery was to be manned by members volunteering their time. It took a few months to get the members on board, but the board members persisted. Soon the gallery became a success.
In 2012 the gallery opened officially under the name Wichita Falls Art Association Gallery. Before obtaining the gallery, the association had 37 members. With the added bonus of the opportunity to show their work all year, the membership went up to over 100. Soon the members started renting painting studios downtown, and then one of them opened a multi-artist studio one block away, called the Seventh Street Studio. And yet another enterprising member opened a studio next door to the WFAA Gallery named The Lily Pad.
These three entities organized the After Hours Art Walks in 2016. By 2017 the idea had spread. New galleries and businesses wanted to join in. They lined up a trolley for every first Thursday through October to take the visitors to all the stops on the route. Each participating venue would have art on display, or have live music, or sometimes both. The Yard got involved, too. The Yard is on Ohio Street between 7th and 8th Streets, making it centrally located. Even food trucks were brought in to feed the masses! Rain or shine, artists fill the Farmer’s Market to show off their art and sell it to the crowds that frequent the art walks. The After Hours Art Walk will continue through October.
The gallery is right in the thick of things. Hundreds of patrons have visited it during the art walks. This year Art & Soul took place in the heart of this burgeoning new art district. The WFAA Gallery alone had almost 900 people come and view their offerings. The gallery has an eclectic mix of art ranging from traditional to modern, so there is something for everyone. Every month there is fresh art, so it is never boring.
Artists of all skill levels are encouraged to join the art association. There is a $35 membership fee and, with this, you can show your art with the association in any show they have. This includes The Kemp Center for the Arts, the Home & Garden Show, and usually the Wichita Falls Museum of Art. Because of their location, the gallery takes part in almost all downtown events, which gives the artists and their art great exposure.
For the last 5 years, the WFAA has also hosted a Photographic Exhibition, and this year it opens on August 1st. Photographers from all over the United States will have their photographs on display. The show is judged, and there are cash prizes. For this show, the photographers do not need to be members of the Association. The exhibit will be at the gallery through August
The business hours of the WFAA Gallery are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It is located at 600 8th Street and the phone number is 940-343-7507.