A celebration of the 73-year-old Rockport-Fulton Art Colony will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 27, in downtown Rockport at Austin and North Streets.
The formal unveiling of a public art mural, “The Rockport-Fulton Art Colony”, painted by legendary local artist Steve Russell, will begin the festivities. A book signing for a children’s book, The ABCs of the Rockport-Fulton Art Colony: Artists & Their Inspiration, will follow this.
The Rockport Cultural Arts District (RCAD) and the History Center for Aransas County (HCAC) are sponsoring the event.
Russell, who was instrumental in the establishment of the Rockport Art Association and the Rockport Art Festival in the sixties, worked on the mural for several months. He depicted several scenes frequently painted by colony artists, including the Aransas Pass Lighthouse, boats and fish houses in the harbors, and the bridge to Frandolig Island, known today as Key Allegro. The work captures the importance of the wildlife, ecosystem and historic structures in the area to the development of the Rockport-Fulton School of Landscape Painting and the Texas Gulf Coast Aesthetic.
The mural was funded in part by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts, the State organization that designated the RCAD in September 2016. The Art Colony mural is a prestigious addition to the three other murals in the District.
Vickie Merchant (former president of the HCAC) and Kay Betz (former secretary of the HCAC) wrote the ABC book. It chronicles the history of the art colony for younger readers, including the work by many artists in supporting environmental groups like the Coastal Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited and others. Educational activities in the book encourage readers to learn more about art, history, science and technology. The authors worked with local teachers and artists on the book, which was funded by the HEB Tournament of Champions.
All book sale proceeds will benefit the HCAC, where a 2016 exhibit began research into the subject. The book is a companion to The Story of the Rockport-Fulton Art Colony: How a Coastal Texas Town Became an Art Enclave, to be published by Texas A&M University Press in November 2021.
Work from many colony artists is included in the book, along with historical photographs. Artists include Evelyn Atkinson, Kay Barnebey, Al and Nanci Barnes, Susie Black, Shirley Blackman, Herb Booth, Dinah Bowman, Ed Boyd, Mimi Braniff, and Charles Cosby. Also, Jack Cowan, Jackson Ehrlich, Thom Evans, Shirley Farley, Larry Felder, Lisa Frederick, Pam Fulcher, Dick Haweley, Frances Iles, Teresa Justice, Elsa Mathews, Hal McCaskill, Simon Michael, Jesus Moroles, Maria Nesbit, Harold Phenix, Clementina and Ricardo Rivera, Barb Robinson, Russell, Jamie and John Speck, Buck Schiwetz, Kent Ullberg and Chance Yarbrough.
Some of the artists will be present at the event to sign the book.
One hundred limited edition, hardback copies will be available for $45. Softback copies cost $35.
Copies of the book can also be bought at the HCAC or ordered online at https://www.thehistorycenterforaransascounty.org/store.
Model T Show for
A 1925 Model T Car Show supporting the restoration of the historic Rockport San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad Depot will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 27.
More than a dozen classic Model Ts from the San Antonio T Fords of Texas Car Club will be at the event, providing photo ops and a firsthand look how people travelled close to 100 years ago.
The Classic Car event will be located in downtown Rockport at Austin, Peter, and Magnolia streets, across from the historic Depot.
In addition to the Model Ts, the Rockport Volunteer Fire Department’s own classic 1913 Fire Engine will be on display.
The Little Bay Sea Queens (Rockport-Fulton’s ambassadors) will also be at the event.
The Rockport Cultural Arts District (RCAD) is sponsoring the event. It is obtaining the historic Depot through a generous donation by its owner, Dave Beckham. The RCAD plans to restore and repurpose the Depot, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. It is located in the center of the RCAD (105 N. Magnolia St.).
The RCAD has received funding to stabilize the building and begin restoration, including a Cultural District Project Grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts. The grant was made possible by the establishment of the RCAD in 2016. It also received a generous grant from the Margaret Sue Rust Foundation.
Merchandise such as men and women’s polos, children’s T-shirts, coffee mugs, and other items with the distinctive Rockport Railroad Depot logo, can also be purchased.
The visionary goal is to restore and utilize the historic Deport as a main transportation hub for the overlapping Heritage District and Cultural Arts District, as well as provide parking for the new Civic Core and Center for the Arts Complex.
The vision includes mobility options such as bicycle rentals, a trolley stop, parking for foot traffic, public restrooms, etc.
Its vision mirrors the growth and positive role of the railroad in Rockport in the 1890s, bringing business and tourists to downtown hotels, restaurants and merchants, for hunting and fishing, and musical and theatrical events.
Rockport’s population grew from 600 in 1888 to 2,500 by 1890.
Restoration of the Depot will attract cultural and heritage tourists, including the significant existing network of railroad enthusiasts, museum and history buffs, families and students.
Tax-deductible donations can be made on the RCAD’s website at www.rockportculturalartsdistrict.com.