In the spring, Mother Nature paints the rolling hills with a brightly colored palette of wildflowers. She is arguably the Roundtopolis’ most visible artist. Her handiwork serves as natural introduction to the stunning creations found within the walls of local art galleries. When you’re out and about on the back roads, be aware there are plenty of destinations for art lovers.
ARTS for Rural Texas
The dark green building with ecru picket trim, located on the square in Fayetteville, might be mistaken for a boutique if it weren’t for the jumbo-sized, primary colored letters spelling out ARTS above the porch. Even with the eye-catching sign, casual observers might assume they’re looking at a traditional art gallery instead of the heart of a non-profit organization.
“It is cost prohibitive to bring rural children to the art, so we bring art to the children,” said Jeanne Schilling, Arts for Rural Texas executive director.
In addition to the gallery, ARTS offers after school art programs, including visual art and musical theater, in every school district in Fayette County and in nearby Weimar. ARTS also brings in performing artists, such as the Houston Grand Opera, for in-school programs.
Arts for Rural Texas
114 N. Live Oak
Fayetteville, Texas 78940
“Fayette County, with Festival Hill, Winedale, private galleries and a host of museums, is a cultural hub,” Schilling said. “We complement the artistic endeavors of all these entities by creating the next generation of art and music lovers.”
The first weekend in May is a festival for the senses as the organization hosts its annual Artwalk, a juried fine arts show featuring 60 artists, assembled on Fayetteville’s square. This year’s event is May 7 – 8.
The return on the local fundraising investment is great.
“Ultimately, ARTS exists to open the possibilities of the mind—and the world—to children,” Schilling said. “It expands their horizons beyond what they’ve seen to what can be.”
Orchid Tree Park And Gallery
Debbie and Mike Koenig combined their passions for fine art, RV travel and Round Top to create Orchid Tree Park and Gallery.
Their 3.5 acre site in the heart of Round Top features the two-story art gallery that combines the best of contemporary and country aesthetics as well as the art park—Mother Nature gilded with imagination and fairy dust. The boutique RV park accommodates seven motor homes.
“When we built an art gallery in the country, it wasn’t about country living in general but about Round Top living specifically,” Debbie said. “The rolling hills, the town’s quaintness and history, the people and art destinations such as Festival Hill spoke to our hearts, minds and souls.”
Orchid Tree Park and Gallery
453 N. Washington
Round Top, Texas 78954
Open: Thursday – Sunday (10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
Debbie selects the artists and artwork for the gallery’s ever-changing and eclectic roster.
“Being in the country lends itself to showcasing paintings of rural landscapes, cattle and horses, so we’ve held several western-themed shows, but we’ve held a contemporary show as well,” Debbie said. “Everyone who visits compares it favorably to galleries in New York and Santa Fe.”
Artist receptions are held each year in conjunction with the Round Top Antiques Show. The spring exhibit will feature new work by the gallery’s current artists. It will focus on the soft colors of spring through natural country scenery typically.
“Birds, wildflowers and the innocent curiosity of a newborn calf exploring a pasture are what makes living in the country special,” Debbie said. “Of course, creating a life—and an art experience—in the small town we’ve chosen to call home is special, too. Our dream came true in Round Top.”
About a year ago, John Lowery, who owns a weekend farm in Burton, took a long look at his neighbor’s Longhorn steer—and was compelled to paint him.
“I began working as a commercial artist while I attended art school,” said Lowery. “I never found my muse until I spotted that Longhorn.”
The 50” x 50” canvas rendered in acrylics was so well-received by friends that Lowery was inspired to open a gallery. He found the ideal location in Round Top’s Henkel Square and set about painting enough whimsical, boldly colored canvases to fill the walls. In the past year, he has completed 50 paintings, including a small canvas for his wife, Laurie, which prompted them to name the gallery, “The Humble Donkey.” “I want my art to afford visitors to the Round Top area the opportunity to experience the beauty I see all around me here—forever,” Lowery said.
Humble Donkey Studio
195 Henkel Circle
Round Top, Texas 78954
Open: Wednesday – Sunday (hours vary)
The gallery, which has a complete collection of donkey-themed swag, is also home to vintage found goods sold under the Lower40 brand name.
“I paint for joy,” Lowery said. “It’s a treat to create something new and put it out into the world where hopefully it will bring happiness to everyone who encounters it.”