The Art Scene in Wichita Falls
Art is a timeless and uniquely human form of expression. It also produces endless avenues of enjoyment, both for the maker and the patron. Wichita Falls is proud to have one of the most exciting art scenes in Texas. From its art organizations to its museums, galleries, and theatres, this city has an abundance of creative expression to offer.
“It would take weeks to soak up all of the beautiful art and culture in Wichita Falls"
"Wicked, whimsical and wonder-filled. The artists and arts organizations in Wichita Falls has just what residents and visitors need to relax and enjoy the creative energy of our city"
A day enjoying the Art Scene in Wichita Falls
Ready for an art-filled day in Wichita Falls? Becky Raeke, co-owner of 9th Street Studios, has some suggestions! “One of my favorite things to do is explore the city with a mural tour” Next, visitors can check out the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU or schedule a tour of the current showing at 9th Street studios. There are also innovative art projects such as the newest installation at River Bend Nature Center, “The Interactive Conservatory Pond Exhibit fuses art and science and is a fun way to experience art and nature,” she said.
In between murals, galleries, and exhibits, she recommends ordering a delicious meal at Gypsy Kit. Also, be sure to check out the local music scene while you’re here! Live music is always available to enjoy Thursday through Saturday. “It would take weeks to soak up all of the beautiful art and culture in Wichita Falls,” she said.
If you love art and live music in a festive atmosphere, you won’t want to miss the After Hours Art Walk held downtown on the first Thurs-
day of the month from April to October. Enjoy an evening filled with art, music, food, and community; musicians and artists fill the streets for this family-friendly event. Downtown restaurants and shops stay open late and host activities and artists in their locations. Hop on the free trolley and tour downtown!
“This just skims the surface, so get out and explore!” she said.
Art Battle Wichita Falls
In 2019, Wichita Falls was proud to host three Art Battle events. In Art Battle, small groups of artists gather to create paintings, and the audience votes on the pieces. Winning artists advance to the national and international levels.
Each year, Art Battle International coordinates more than 200 events in the U.S. and Canada, and more than 60 events globally in such metropolises as Beijing, China, and Sydney, Australia. The 2020 national competition, which was also scheduled to take place in Wichita Falls, was canceled due to the pandemic; however, one of Art Battle’s cofounders, Simon Plashkes, is still planning to have it take place in Wichita Falls.
The Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture
What makes Wichita Falls so impressive when it comes to art? The Wichita Falls Alliance of Arts and Culture, for one. It exists to strengthen and distinguish arts and culture in Wichita Falls, build enduring bonds among diverse communities, and so much more. Executive Director Margie Reese has had the honor of serving as Executive Director since January 2016.
“Moving to Wichita Falls to launch this effort was kind of a risky proposition,” she said, “since I had never lived in Wichita Falls before, and had actually only visited once before. But, in the nearly five years since taking on this great challenge, I have met so many amazing creative people and the patrons that support them. Such a joy to see how trusting this community is and welcoming of new people and ideas.”
The organization’s impressive accomplishments are numerous, but Reese said the murals program has changed the face of the city and highlighted some amazing young local artists. Local WFAAC teaching artist Daniel Juarez is in agreement on the murals.
“These murals not only give the artists an opportunity to express themselves, but it’s also a great way to brighten the local communities,” he said.
In addition to the beloved mural program, Reese is also proud of such WFAAC accomplishments as having brought the Grammy award-winning Mariachi Divas to town, as well as the elegant Dallas Black Dance Theatre.
To keep track of events, Reese suggests checking out the WFAAC’s website at www.wichitafallsarts.org to see all of the great arts programs that Wichita Falls has to offer.
The Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU
Seeking a reputable art museum experience without having to drive to the big city? The Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU might be just what you’re looking for. This museum provides a high-quality experience in a cozy, comfortable environment. It features rotating exhibitions of work from the museum’s permanent collection, traveling exhibitions, and visiting artists.
“The museum’s permanent collection features American art from the founding of the United States to the present, with a focus on works on paper by modern and contemporary artists,” said Museum Director Tracee Robertson. “One of our most popular traveling exhibitions is titled ‘Birds in Art,’ a national juried exhibition of art in all media, organized by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin. The WFMA also recently presented solo exhibitions by Ohio artist Matt Wedel (ceramics) and Texas artists Paul Valadez (collage) and Vernon Fisher (paintings and sculpture) as well as a traveling exhibition organized by the National Archives and Humanities Texas, featuring early 20th-century political cartoons by Clifford Berryman.”
She said the museum also offers performing arts events, such as theatre and live music, in its outdoor pavilion. It also offers interactive activities such as art-making workshops focused on visual literacy and art media related to museum exhibits, curator’s exhibition tours, sketching in the galleries, and artist lectures.
The Arts Council
Another top-notch art organization that helps make Wichita Falls so artistic is The Arts Council. Its mission is to nurture and strengthen the artistic, cultural, and educational quality of the community and surrounding area. This organization is comprised of The Kemp and The Forum, two of the town’s most remarkable official Texas historical buildings.
Originally built as a public library in 1918, The Kemp Center for the Arts was leased in 1998 to the Arts Council. Reopened in 2002, it currently houses five gallery exhibit spaces, three classrooms, and an auditorium, all of which are available for rent.
In 2010, the historical 1927 Women’s Forum building was deeded to the Arts Council for extensive renovation. Now known simply as “The Forum,” it helps support performance arts programming.
The Arts Council provides Wichita Falls with extensive arts programming and education all throughout the year. Some of their popular programs include Arts Alive! Home & Garden Fest, ArtZeum Kids’ Exhibit, Cowboy True, Mystery Art Fest, Palette to Palate, Sculpture Garden, and much more.
Theatre lovers can find plenty of quality live shows year-round in Wichita Falls. One of the local favorites is Backdoor Theatre, located downtown it was originally the People’s Ice House and was built in 1920. The thick brick walls create a terrific acoustic sound, not to mention great insulation. Backdoor has a reputation for producing high-quality Broadway-style productions. They have two stages, the Main Stage and Dinner Stage, which have produced over 600 productions and concerts.
The Wichita Theatre began in 1908. A designated Texas Historic Landmark, it was originally a vaudeville house then transformed into a movie theater from 1939-1979. Having come full circle, the theatre once again produces live musical entertainment on its stage. Shadows of the original building remain today. If you know where to look, you might find the bricked in original opera house windows.
Midwestern State University also has an impressive theatre department. Every year, principles studied in the MSU classroom are applied in a season of three or four major productions. The MSU staff and students put on comedies, dramas, and musicals throughout the fall and spring semesters for the public’s enjoyment.
Other Art Classes, Galleries, and Events!
They are a creative outlet to inspire! They offer birthday parties, fundraisers, baby/wedding showers, private painting classes, as well as open studio times.
How Great Thou Art/Painting Studio
Celebrate your inner artist whether you are an experienced painter or just starting out! How Great thou Art provides you with a professional instructor, all fine art supplies, and a fun atmosphere for a one of a kind creative experience. With guided step –by- step instruction, painters complete a masterpiece to take home at the end of the night.
The Juanita Harvey Art Gallery
As a nationally-recognized university division, the gallery seeks to present exhibitions by contemporary artists of importance. These exhibitions include significant images and reflect important ideas that are responsive to the university's educational goals and the aspirations of the community.
Kemp Center for the Arts
Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, young or old, the Kemp Center has educational programming for you.
After Hours Artwalk
Experience the artistic side of Wichita Falls during the After Hours Art Walk, held throughout the downtown area on the first Thursday of the month, April - October. Art studios, galleries, restaurants, and shops all stay open late, with the main event starting in the evening at the Wichita Falls Farmers Market. The trolley will help you make your way across downtown, or pick up a map and explore by foot.