‘Designer Showcase’ on display in downtown Waco

Molly Atchison | Print Managing Editor

By Molly Atchison | Print Managing Editor

Cultivate7twelve, a relatively new fine art gallery and event space located downtown, is cleverly named after its street address, 712 Austin Ave. Cultivate’s storefront features a collection of locally made artwork available for purchase, providing an opportunity for the Waco community to profit off of their talent. The walls toward the back of the downtown space cycle through exhibits on a monthly basis, and various nonprofits call the upstairs office space of Cultivate home.

Most recently, Cultivate has opened its doors (and its walls) to a group of local, creative minds known as PACT, or Professional Artists of Central Texas. PACT works to promote independent artists in the Texas area, and to build a community of local talent. Until March 1, Cultivate will feature works from seven different PACT artists hanging around the open floorplan as part of their “Designer Showcase: Fine Art for Waco’s Fine Homes” exhibition.

The seven artists featured in the PACT showcase work with various mediums, from oil painting to ceramics, and each of them are evidently capable of producing high-quality work with unique personal touches. Cultivate’s open floor plan allows viewers to view the art from various angles, and in the center of the open space stands a table of ceramic dishware created by artist Karen Cruce. Cruce has been working with pottery for 20 years and, according to her website, attributes her artistic style to her views of nature.

“Earth has also gifted us with a fabulous pallet of color from which to work …” Cruce writes. “… From these elements, my landscape glazing technique creates a beautifully crafted piece which is finished is such a way to capture the viewers’ attention and stimulate a tactile response.” Cruce’s glazed pieces are full of vibrant colors, diverse patterns and glossy finishes.

Cruces isn’t the only featured artist who uses nature as inspiration in their artwork. Houston-based artist Kay Reinke attributes her abstract acrylic paintings to her adventures to the gulf coast beaches. Reinke’s fluid, colorful canvases are artistic renditions of ocean foam and waves, and each one looks like a mini-galaxy hanging proudly on the wall. Nature is a strong theme in Cultivate’s designer showcase display, but even more present was the personal touch made by each piece of art.

Judi Simon’s work perfectly embodied the uniqueness of the overall display. Simon has been painting for 40 years and has refined an edge to her realist artwork. Most of her artwork is painted on pieces of tile, several of which are hanging in Cultivate 7twelve to be appreciated by the masses. These tiles have been recognized as “Best in Show” in several ceramics competitions, and her decision to paint images on ceramic tiles and to portray simple household items like coffee cups or potted plants is a unique medium with which to display her work.

Similarly, Kimberly Merck-Moore utilized her medium to share her love of forests with the world. Merck-Moore combines wood, acrylic and metal to construct unique displays of trees and wildlife. Merck-Moore’s art is some of the largest in the collection, and although the colors are more muted than the bright works of Reinke and Cruce, Merck-Moore’s art is unique in its varied dimensionality.

The remaining three artists in the collection are similarly talented, each in their respective ways. The only black-and-white pieces featured are those of Joel R. Edwards, a Texan whose dark yet peaceful stenciled portraits of graphite and watercolor display some of the most beautiful landscapes of Texas. Edwards was born and raised in the Waco area, and he uses his artwork to demonstrate how light plays on the land he grew up in.

Much like Edwards, Linda Filgo uses light to illuminate her views of life; her naturalistic portraits display natural light on human subjects. Filgo’s portraits are soft, and each image seems to embody its own personality. Filgo’s work stands out immediately, even if it is not the focal point of the collection.

Finally, Joanna Burch uses similar pastel hues, but in a very different capacity. Instead of using human subjects, Burch focuses on the flora and fauna of Texas. Burch’s paintings and drawings capture both the liveliness of Texas’ wildlife and the warmth of a typical Texas home.

Though each of the artists on display are different in their own respect, Cultivate7twelve has connected them through their atypical portrayals of Texas life. The designer showcase is only open for a limited time, but Cultivate 7twelve is selling both originals and prints of some of the pieces on display. To see the talent hanging on these walls, or to pick up a rendition of these artists’ work, take a stroll down Austin Ave. by March 1.