Thomas Leath Gallery adds to Waco’s growing cultural arts scene

Kim Avila admires the art in the gallery at the grand opening of Thomas Leath's Gallery. Jessica Hubble | Multimedia journalist

The Thomas Leath Gallery had its grand opening Saturday. Leath opened his personal collection of art in hopes of expanding the Waco visual arts scene, and he said the grand opening went better than he could have imagined.

Leath said he is very pleased with the community’s response to the gallery and the turnout of over 100 people on Saturday at the gallery.

Leath served on the board for the Arts Center Waco for five years, along with being the president of the board. Leath said there is definitely an up-and-coming art scene in Waco, which will hopefully keep expanding.

“I’ve come to the conclusion after watching Waco grow over the past 10 or so years [that] art community is a vibrant part of a growing city, and if the arts don’t grow with the city, then you have a problem. In Waco, it really has been growing.”

Leath grew up in Washington, D.C., and said he often visited some of the world’s best museums. Leath said he would go to see art exhibits any chance he could as a kid, from the National Gallery of Art to the Phillips Collection in Washington.

“I love just about every type of art,” Leath said. “From landscape and folk art to modern art and contemporary art; I love it all.”

Leath said he has accumulated over 65 pieces of art since the ’80s. However, due to his mother’s health issues and the rearrangment of living situations, his pieces were just left sitting in storage. Leath said he finally opened his eyes to the opportunity of displaying his art collection in his own gallery.

“I thought, ‘I have all this amazing art, so why not open a gallery and see what the people in Waco like?’” Leath said. “There’s something in here for everyone, it’s not like other galleries that rotate exhibits and only showcase one artist at a time.”

Leath’s gallery reflects his wide variety of taste. The pieces that hang on the wall range from a vibrant German pop-art piece to a quiet Cuban landscape painted in cool green tones. Leath’s gallery has two rooms, and both are filled with coherent yet contrasting mixtures of colors, genres and techniques. Leath said on the night of the gallery’s opening, both rooms were full the entire time.

Among the crowd on Saturday was Waco resident, Kelly Dyer.

“Walking in, I immediately got the sense of a personal, tasteful and relaxed atmosphere,” Dyer said.One where everyone would feel comfortable, yet able to enjoy fine art.”

Dyer was the only person to make a purchase on Saturday night. Dyer said she purchased an untitled piece by an artist who moved from China to Waco.

“I was drawn to the color scheme, and right away saw al fresco wine sippers on a narrow Italian street,” Dyer said. “All of the men I asked said they saw a thick forest with a cliff and a river. We all found that pretty entertaining, and that’s the really cool aspect of art.”

Ricky Ashe, an amateur art enthusiast, was also pleased with Leath’s gallery. Ashe said the gallery has a great atmosphere without any added pressure.

“The curator and owner Thomas Leath knows his collection and can make recommendations on how you should grow your collection,” Ashe said.

The Thomas Leath Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and is located at 2012 North Valley Mills Drive.

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