Lack of volunteers jeopardizes future of Stars of Texas exhibit

Special to the Bulletin

BROWNWOOD — Concerns over the coronavirus pandemic forced cancellation this year of what would have been the 23rd annual Stars of Texas Juried Art Exhibit. Now, members of the exhibit committee say additional volunteers, if not a restructuring of the art show, will be needed if it is expected to return in 2022.

Communicating by emails, veteran committee members expressed weariness after more than two decades of being involved with the exhibit. The committee is comprised of volunteers, and most have been working with the exhibit in various ways since its beginning in 1999.

The committee sees three options:

  1. continuing with someone else as coordinator with new volunteers joining a few holdover members;
  2. the Stars of Texas Juried Art Exhibit will no longer be here for the community; or
  3. Some other group or organization will step up to continue the exhibit with its own vision.

Members cited health concerns, physical limitations, family situations, and work conflicts among issues hampering their ability to continue serving as volunteers.

Before terminating the exhibit, however, committee members said they wanted to hear from representatives of organizations that might be willing to assume leadership, as well as from people interested in taking on various roles in a revamped committee.

The Arts Council of Brownwood, which presents the exhibit each February with support from more than a dozen sponsors, has been notified of these concerns. The Arts Council, chaired by Nick Ewen, suggested the exhibit committee go public with the need to recruit new volunteers or a different group to manage the show.

Not all members of the existing committee are ready to step down. Some have expressed a willingness to volunteer again in 2022 if it should continue after a year’s absence, with the understanding that several new members — if not a different organization — must become involved. Holdover volunteers would help provide continuity.

The Stars of Texas Juried Art Exhibit was conceived as a one-week show to celebrate the restoration and reopening of The Depot Civic and Community Center. The exhibit was so well-received, it became an annual event that was soon extended to two weeks. The Stars of Texas has since put Brownwood on the map for artists, art lovers, and art buyers throughout Texas and beyond.

Committee members explained that in its current format, the Stars of Texas Exhibit requires a significant commitment from its volunteers. Planning for the following year’s show typically starts soon after the show’s doors at the Depot close each February, beginning with fund-raising for award sponsors and marketing to artists and art associations. In most years, art intake is held over the last weekend in January, with works selected by an experienced art juror going on display at the Depot beginning a week later.

Coordination is also needed with the Brownwood Art Association, which concurrently hosts an exhibit at its downtown Art Center featuring works submitted but not selected for the Stars of Texas. In addition, commitments from a dozen or more in-person art demonstrators — three each weekday — are secured. These demonstrations have become a popular field trip destination for multiple school campuses. Other partners include the City of Brownwood, which manages the Depot, and civic organizations that help with staffing during the exhibit.

Since its inception, the exhibit has been open to the public at no charge. It attracts many out-of-town visitors over its two-week run, in addition to being a unique educational enrichment for students in Brown and neighboring counties. While at the Depot to view the exhibit, students from area schools have the opportunity to visit with the artists who provide demonstrations. Attendance has reached as high as 2,400 over the two-week run, including 1,100 school students.

Groups and people interested in helping plan an exhibit in 2022 are asked to call 325-643-1044.