The Art Center is located at 816 S. Main Street, just one block off the Courthouse Square. A large public parking lot is across Main Street, on the southeast corner of 9th and Main. The Art Center’s hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 1-5. Exhibits of art rotate monthly in the gallery, there is a gift shop featuring the work of local artists, and the studio is available for classes and meetings. For more information call (512) 930-2583 during the hours that the center is open, or visit the website at http://www.georgetownartcentertx.org/.
The 2013 Student Art Hop, a statewide high school art competition, will be on display in the gallery during November.
The ribbon-cutting and grand opening of the Georgetown Art Center took place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 26. Those who spoke included Eric Lashley, the director of the Georgetown Public Library, who was the primary City staff person associated with the project, Jane Estes, president of Georgetown Art Works, the organization that will manage the art center, and Mayor George Garver. At the same ceremony, Jim Bob McMillan, deputy director of the Texas Commission on the Arts, made the official announcement of the State’s designation of the Downtown Georgetown Cultural District. Members of the Georgetown Arts and Culture Board, led by Chair Philip Baker, did the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon. The Arts and Culture Board has worked for nearly five years to establish an art center in Georgetown.
The exhibit in the Art Center gallery during October is “Museum Anatomy,” the work of Laura Spector and Chadwick Gray that is an effort to replicate 19th-century paintings on a human canvas.
The end of this long, long project is in sight! The glass storefront has been installed and most of the interior drywall has been hung. The restroom fixtures are about to be installed. The Sneak Preview party on September 14, hosted in Thundercloud Subs’ extra space, was an opportunity for people to see the work in progress. Bluegrass music on the sidewalk and delicious food from the Monument made up for the less-than-air-conditioned interior spaces.
Today, September 18, contractors got final instructions for installation of the splash pad. Things are in line for the big ribbon-cutting grand opening that is scheduled for October 26.
The most visible progress on the Art Center is in the pocket park adjacent to the building. Removing the trees and excavating to allow placement of the silva cells was major work. Silva cells are the latest technology in tree planting. They are air- and water- permeable containers that are sunk below ground, into which the new trees will be planted. They are designed to prevent roots from rising to the surface and causing unevenness in the surfaces adjacent to the trees. You may have had to cope with tree roots in your own yard coming up in awkward places and causing trip hazards, or worse, broken paving or foundations. The objective is to plant trees that can grow and be healthy for longer than 20 years.
Less visible is the interior progress, but you’ll soon be able to see a significant change—the glass storefront should be installed within the next 10 days. This is not your regular flat storefront, so once it’s installed you’ll understand why it took a while to do the prep work and to fabricate the glass pieces. It will be worth the wait! Progress is also being made on the sign for the storefront, which will be composed of separate steel letters—another piece of the puzzle that will be worth the wait.
Inside, nearly everything is ready for drywall installation and finishing. As soon as the walls have been painted the concrete floor will be prepped for stain and polishing. It’s going to be a beautiful space!
Progress on the renovation of old Fire Station #1, at the corner of 9th and Main Streets continues, slowly but surely, toward the projected August 1 finish date. One of the most tedious parts of the restoration project—the first floor windows—is complete. The building is historic, so the windows could not be replaced. Restoration meant removing the window frames from the stone walls, using what wood in the frame was still viable and replacing that which was not. They’re back in place now and looking very spruce and historic with the original wavy glass in many of them.
This project hasn’t been plagued with good fortune, so recent bits of it are being celebrated. Ceramic tile flooring caused the first celebration. While part of the existing floor is covered in ceramic tile, the design calls for more of the floor to be tiled. The plan was to buy new tile that would complement the existing tile, then create a transitional design between the two that incorporated both patterns of tile.
Throughout the renovation, the neighbor who owns the property adjacent to the fire station on 9th Street has been actively interested in the project. When he heard about the plan for tiling the rest of the floor, he told the project manager that he had some unused tile he thought might work. It turned out to be a good match and he was willing to give it to the City, so small town neighborliness solved the floor problem.
On the other side of the fire station, new neighbor Thundercloud Subs gave everyone associated with the art center project another reason to celebrate. Thundercloud’s manager has offered their unoccupied north bay for Georgetown Art Works to use as a temporary gallery and gathering space until he finds the right tenant for the space. Art Works couldn’t be happier with the offer, which will make it possible to have a “hard hat” fundraising event where they can give tours of the fire station and allow folks to see first-hand what the renovated building will look like.
Georgetown Art Works is hosting a casual reception for all volunteers and prospective volunteers for the new Georgetown Art Center.
Date: Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Where: Georgetown Library, Hewlett Room
Refreshments will be served.
The Center will be located at the corner of 9th and Main Street in the old firehouse. Depending on re-construction, the Center is scheduled to open in mid-July. You do not have to be an artist to volunteer. We are looking for people who are interested in bringing innovative and cutting edge arts to Georgetown. Members of the board will be on hand to answer your questions, update you on the status of the center, and present details on opportunities to volunteer and be involved.
Since the interior of the Art Center is off limits to the public, the most visible change is in the adjacent pocket park. The two existing trees–oaks that had begun to decline–have been removed. They will be replaced with mature Monterey oaks when the construction is complete. The City Council has approved putting a splash pad in the park, which will require excavation and installation of plumbing, and it also is necessary to lower the grade in the park by nearly ten inches so that a doorway in the south wall of the fire station that was closed many years ago may be reopened.
A new structure in the park will incorporate the old fire bell, seating, and containers for plants (see the drawing below). This structure will be in line with the front of the Art Center and will help define the space of the park, which will focus on the splash pad. The splash pad will provide cooling respite on hot summer days, but it also may be turned off so that the park can be used as a performance venue. Both of the exterior metal stairways will remain but they will not be accessible to the public.
Working on the assumption that the Art Center will be ready to open by June 1, Georgetown Art Works is offering an exciting summer camp program from June 10 – August 16. Either morning or afternoon sessions are available for nine different week-long courses that are designed for children ages 6-12.
Georgetown Art Works also is committed to having outstanding local, national, and international art exhibits in the Art Center Gallery. Their first exhibit opens June 14 and features the paintings of Benini, an Italian who has established the Studio and Sculpture Ranch in the Texas Hill Country. The show of Benini’s work will run until July 21. Check Art Works’ website for more details about the summer classes–georgetownartworks.org
The Georgetown Art Center is inching toward reality. Reconstruction and reconfiguration of the interior of old Fire Station #1 are underway and on December 11 City Council approved the plans for a splash pad in the pocket park adjacent to the building. One of the purposes of the art center is to attract visitors to downtown into the block beyond the Square. The pocket park next to the old fire station was under-utilized in the past, partly because of its generally low profile and partly because its inviting shade and seating weren’t easily visible from the Square. With the advent of the art center, the park is being completely reconfigured so that anyone using the big public parking lot at 9th and Main will be able to see this public space easily, and the presence of a splash pad may make the park a destination for families. Of course, the planners hope that park users also will visit the art center, but the park is intended to be an asset for the entire downtown, not just the art center.
During December, Georgetown Art Works, the nonprofit organization that will be operating the art center, announced their capital campaign to raise $85,000. We have their brochures at the library if you are interested, or you may see it on the Art Works website—www.georgetownartworks.org. And, if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer at the art center, there’s contact information on the website that will put you in touch with the right people. April 2013 is the projected date for the opening of the Georgetown Art Center.
Renovation of historic Fire Station #1, at the corner of Main and 9th Streets, to create an art center, continues on schedule. Demolition of the interior was finished about a month ago, with no unexpected complications uncovered during that process. On November 1 the City’s Historic Architecture Review Commission gave its blessing to the plans submitted to them for the art center’s exterior design. Work on the sidewalk and pocket park improvements has been underway for more than a month. On November 9 the Texas Downtown Association announced an award of $4500 to the City of Georgetown for help with the renovation process. The grant to Georgetown was the largest that the Association made this year. Keep your eye on this corner. There will be some exciting changes taking place here during the next few months.
Plans for the new downtown art center have moved beyond just talk to people making commitments and preparations being made to spend the money it will take to make the dream a reality. On May 22, 2012, City Council approved a $400,000 budget for conversion of Old Fire Station #1, on the southwest corner of 9th and Main Streets, into an art center. Architectural services were a part of that budget and in June the call went out for an architect to design the interior and exterior of the art center. The selection committee—Dar Richardson, a member of the Arts and Culture Board, Eric Lashley, director of the library, and Laurie Brewer, deputy city manager—interviewed three of the nine companies that responded and selected Gary Wang, Architect.
Wang began working immediately on the interior design, the part of the renovation with which the Arts and Culture Board already had spent considerable time. The entrance, which is on Main Street, will open into the gallery space. Beyond the gallery will be a small gift shop and two restrooms. Down a short hallway between the gallery and the gift shop will be a meeting room/studio where classes will be held. Wang’s biggest headache inside the building is making space for storage.
The design of the exterior is still in flux. The fire station is an historic building and certain aspects of its exterior may not be changed. The Texas Historical Commission and Georgetown’s own Historic Architectural Review Commission will be involved in the decisions made about the exterior. While there is no question that the building’s history will be honored, and that the old fire bell and both exterior stairways will be a part of the design, Wang is examining many alternatives for adding curb appeal to the building and making the pocket park function less as a memorial and more as an inviting outdoor space.
On July 10 the City Council approved a management agreement between the City and Georgetown Art Works (GAW), which conveys responsibility for running the art center to GAW. This organization was the only one to respond to a call for proposals that went out in early June. A local arts-focused nonprofit, GAW has been active in Georgetown for a number of years. Its most visible project is Art Hop, which happens each year in October and attracts artists from all over Texas. Two years ago GAW also sponsored the October art banner project that turned the downtown lamp posts into a gallery of original art. Always on the back burner for the organization was the desire to establish an art center in Georgetown. Now the opportunity is theirs.
The management agreement requires the operator to stage twelve major art shows in the gallery each year, to offer art classes for adults and children, to utilize volunteers to keep the art center open 44 hours per week, to operate a gift shop, and to provide space for local arts organizations and businesses to advertise their programs and shows. The art center will not be a performance venue except for, perhaps, a musician or two performing during opening receptions for the gallery shows. Georgetown Art Works will provide monthly reports to the Arts and Culture Board regarding visitation, finances, class attendance, and the gallery show. The initial agreement is for one year, December 2012 through November 2013, but is renewable if both parties agree to continue the relationship.
Georgetown Art Works has taken on a huge project in the art center and we hope the community will step up to help them. They will need financial contributions and they will need volunteers. They most definitely are looking for people whose skills and talents are in areas other than art. You don’t have to be able to draw to help! People with management experience, and who are willing to work on a team, will be welcomed.
On March 27, Eric Lashley, director of the Georgetown Public Library, and Gary Wang, architect, presented to City Council
a preliminary look at what many people are hoping will become space for a community gallery and art classroom—Old Fire Station #1, at the corner of 9th and Main Streets.
The Georgetown Arts and Culture Board has been working for nearly two years to develop a workable concept for an art center. They began in the summer of 2010, at the request of City Manager Paul Brandenburg, to consider the need for such a facility. At that time, no particular location had been identified. Working with representatives of local arts organizations, the committee looked at models from other communities, and dreamed big—a place where artists could work and show their art, a place for classes of many types, and a space for the performing arts. The grand idea was appealing, but discussions often ended with…”but how would we fund it?” Ultimately, because the performing arts already have several very good venues in Georgetown, the group decided that what was most needed was gallery space, with room for some art classes.
Then, when the bond passed in November 2010 for a new public safety complex, the present police station became the most likely location for an art center. The members of the Arts and Culture Board toured the facility and were impressed with its good condition, architecturally interesting interior, and more than adequate space for a center for the visual arts. Of course, it would be four years before the space would be available, but that was plenty of time to plan and involve all the necessary players.
From the beginning, everyone agreed that an art center would necessarily be staffed by volunteers. The Arts and Culture Board has no regular funding to use to pay for staff. Where the volunteers would come from and who would be in charge were the big questions. Members of the Arts and Culture Board certainly did not see themselves in that role. Their terms last only two years with a maximum of four years possible—setting up a rather shaky basis for management. Local visual arts organizations expressed considerable interest in a center, but management was less interesting to them. With plans so tentative, it was hard to drum up support that was more than moral.
Late in 2011, Eric Lashley, who is staff liaison to the Arts and Culture Board, learned that fire administration will be vacating their offices in Fire Station #1 when Fire Station #5 is completed in the latter part of 2012. Their offices are on the first floor of the building, but the second floor, which was once the living quarters for the firemen, was renovated in 2011 to make new offices for the Economic Development and Public Communications departments. Therefore, when the fire administration staff move out of their offices on the first floor, the second floor still will be occupied. So, as long as the utilities will still be connected, why not utilize the first floor for an art center? Lashley approached Paul Brandenburg and Deputy City Manager Laurie Brewer with the idea. They said they would like to see a business plan.
By mid-January 2012 Lashley had a business plan drafted. The plan called for the City to take care of necessary interior renovations such as removing a wall and installing a second restroom. The four truck bays adjacent to the fire station were on the market, so the City already was planning to separate the electrical service to the two areas. Amanda Still, one of the members of the Arts and Culture Board, is an interior designer and gallery owner, so she provided good input about the floor plan and keeping renovation costs low.
The business plan addressed the primary uses of the art center –gallery space, instructional space, meeting space, and a gift shop—and outlined the proposed days and hours the center would be open, the number of volunteers required to staff the operation, visitation goals, and a rudimentary budget. It also included rough sketches of a proposed floor plan.
At the same time that he was working on the business plan, Lashley met Gary Wang at a public meeting sponsored by the Main Street Manager. They quickly realized they had mutual interests. Wang, an architect who had recently moved to Georgetown, was looking for a way to become involved in the community and he was intrigued by the art center proposal that Lashley described. He offered to help.
At the January meeting of the Arts and Culture Board, Wang, who is on the faculty at UT, had presented a proposal to provide preliminary architectural design services for the art center. The Board accepted his proposal and he immediately began working with Lashley to create conceptual drawings of the interior and exterior spaces of the art center. By March 27 they had an impressive array of visuals to show Council and to convince them that the project was worth pursuing. The sale in March of the four truck bays adjacent to the historic fire station made the art center proposal timely and relevant. Lashley told Council he would return with a firm cost for the renovation of the building.