Waco 52 pop-up gallery praises unappreciated cultural success

Kristina Valdez | Arts and Life Editor

For the entire month of August, the Waco 52 pop-up gallery will be honoring the culture of Waco through the inspired work of talented Waco artists. This exhibition has found its home at 712 Austin Ave. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, you can admire 52 art pieces that were delicately curated by Creative Waco, a nonprofit organization.

“Creative Waco’s goals are to make Waco the kind of place that is vibrant and bursting with life in those kinds of community building and participation-generating activities that help us all to thrive,” said Fiona Bond, executive director of Creative Waco and curator of Waco 52.

Through the efforts of local leaders, Waco was recently named one of the Texas’ newest Cultural Districts—meaning that Waco has as much cultural activity as much larger cities in Texas. By collaborating with two state representatives, Doc Anderson and Kyle Kacal, Creative Waco first brought Waco 52 to the Texas State Capitol in May 2017.

“It is about changing perception,” Bond said. “People outside of Waco already understand how [great] Waco is. From Austin, you hear visitors just raving about how lovely Waco is. But the last people to believe that is sometimes the people who have always lived in Waco.”

Visitors may be surprised by the variety of artwork that shows Waco from the perspective of 52 artists.

“I want people to be inspired by what they could do and what their part is,” Bond said. “Whether they’re students, faculty or employees of Baylor, everyone has a part to play in making this community more culturally vibrant.”

Of those artists, former Baylor student and artist of “The Professional,” Nathan Trampe, explored his fascination with street art and common stereotypes using acrylic, spray and oil painting.

“The movement in the piece and the vaporizing nature of the subject represents the fluidity and ever-changing nature of our ideas and stereotypes,” Trampe said. “[It adds] to the question of how we view others and how it may change or stay the same in the future.”

The subject of Trampe’s art is his former roommate, a black man, sprinting while dressed in a full suit and tie. The vivid color and harsh details sets the piece in motion. Trampe graduated from Baylor with his Bachelors of Arts in studio art in spring 2017.

With Waco artists standing together, the thriving culture of Waco can be acknowledged and appreciated. Artist of “The Silos,” Susan Sistrunk, said artists in Waco have stopped looking at each other as competition and are more willing to help each other be successful.

“[Waco] is culturally advanced,” Sistrunk said. “People should come to [Waco 52] to see how this city is behind the artists, supporting the artists.”

As artist of “The Silos,” Sistrunk gives a retrospective look into Waco’s iconic silos, now home to the tourist-alluring and popular Magnolia Market. Sistrunk’s oil painting is meant to transport viewers to a time when the silos were the key to economic prosperity in Waco.

Artwork at Waco 52 also paints well-known characters in a different light. Shay MacMorran’s “Hero of Pearl Harbor,” done in pen and colored pencil, shows the historical Waco war hero Doris Miller standing tall with his dark skin, in his brilliant white navy uniform against a blinding blue sky.

“There are not photos of [Doris Miller] in color,” MacMorran said. “I wanted to bring it to life and more close to home.”

If you are unable to purchase the artwork from the gallery, you can take home a deck of playing cards that shows each piece of art on the card’s face. Preview the exhibit at https://www.creativewaco.org/waco52 and then take a stroll through the gallery before it leaves Aug. 31.

“People would want to come to [Waco 52] because they will want to be a part of something very exciting that is happening in our community,” Bond said. “I think there will come a day where people who stepped through the door will say, ‘I was a part of that. I was there—I was saw it.’ Just like people say I was there at Woodstock.”

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