In 1998 a group of seven Bastrop artists came together to promote their work in their hometown. After securing donated space in the hallway of a historic downtown Bastrop building, the Bastrop Fine Arts Guild began showing its work and reaching out to art aficionados and tourists.
The organization, like so many things about Bastrop, has grown dramatically since then.
The non-profit organization now boasts 150 members, many from Bastrop but some hailing from as far away as Cedar Park, Houston and Brenham. According to one of the organization’s directors, Karol Rice, members from those far-flung places feel a kinship with the Bastrop artists and have helped form the current diverse community. The group includes painters working in oil, acrylic, watercolors and pastels, as well as metal sculptors, wood and glass artists and photographers.
The guild’s gallery, which now fills the entire building at 1009 Main Street, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The guild’s monthly First Friday Art Walk event, held from 6 to 8 p.m., includes artists doing live demonstrations with downtown businesses and restaurants staying open to serve attendees.
The Bastrop Fine Arts Guild has also made the entire city its gallery, with art shows and commissioned art from guild members appearing in official city buildings, banks, the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa and local restaurants.
And there’s an ambitious project currently in the works to shape the guild’s future and its legacy, tentatively called the Lost Pines Arts Center. The guild has purchased a historic building with four adjacent grain silos on Chestnut Street near the new city hall, and the $3 million renovation project, set for groundbreaking in 2015, will include gallery, classroom, and rentable office space in the main building, plus artist workspaces and an artist-in-residence living space in the silos.
The Bastrop Economic Development Corporation has already awarded the project a major grant, and the city has pledged additional money toward the project, noting that art tourism is helping define Bastrop and the Lost Pines region.
“Art is good for business, too,” Rice said. “It adds to Bastrop’s quality of life and attracts people looking for unique, quality pieces to add to their lives — our growing artist community is one of our economic engines.”