San Marcos gallery showcases artwork from Texas cities and towns

Brianna Benitez, Life and Arts Assistant Editor

Against the white walls, detailed drawings and intricate paintings express individuality, while handcrafted ceramics and three-dimensional sculptures sit together to showcase the creative artists of Texas.

Located just a block from the San Marcos historic downtown courthouse, 218 Co-op Gallery showcases a fascinating mix of paintings, sculptures and adornments in its new “Tiny Art of Texas” exhibit.

The exhibit opened Nov. 7 and will be on display until Dec. 9. Nearly 140 pieces of tiny art are on display by artists from 50 different cities and towns across Texas. Exhibit hours are Thursday-Friday 3-7 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The 218 Co-op Gallery opened its doors during spring 2017. The gallery is a collaboratively owned and operated for-profit space allowing featured artists to retail their work. Nine member-owners currently run the gallery.

Suzanne Shield-Polk, 218 Co-op Gallery member-owner, helps manage the artwork and serves as the guest artist coordinator and community liaison.

Shield-Polk said gallery memberslove contributing to the cultural character of the San Marcos community. Workshops for ceramics, printmaking and textiles are offered, which are member-led throughout the year.

Sheild-Polk said the “Tiny Art of Texas” exhibit has brought in new faces and potential members to the gallery. She said guests expressed learning a lot from viewing the art in person.

“Seeing the art in the flesh, you’re able to examine the materials and learn about the maker’s process by just meditating on the work,” Shield-Polk said. “One of our missions is to provide art education.”

The “Tiny Art of Texas” show allowed individuals from across Texas to submit their work for a chance to be featured at the gallery. Submission entries for the exhibit opened June 2019 and closed October 2019.

To be eligible for the application, submitted artwork could be no larger than 10 inches in length or width. All submissions were submitted electronically with an entry fee of $35. Applications were reviewed by gallery members. 218 Co-op Gallery announced the submission opening via their social media and website.

Lauren Kussro is a featured artist in the “Tiny Art of Texas” exhibit. She has been an artist for over 25 years.

Kussro said she was introduced to art at a young age. Throughout middle and high school, Kussro frequently participated in art workshops. She continued to develop her passion by majoring in studio art at Indiana University and receiving a master’s in studio art later from the University of Tennesee.

Three of Kussro’s pieces are featured in the exhibit: “Fire Coral,” “Korallion Gyre” and “Germinating Biome.”

“Fire Coral” is a 3×3 inch collage created out of print and laser cut-out pieces. “Korallion Gyre” is a micron pen drawing colored with watercolors. “Germinating Biome” is a three-dimensional sculpture crafted out of paper.

Kussro said her work is inspired by the environments and organisms found in nature. She said creating is a meditative medium in which she can explore and communicate her faith.

“When I’m in nature, I feel comfortable and relaxed,” Kussro said. “I want some aspect of that to come through my work.”

Although her pieces are not necessarily based on one particular thing, Kussro said her style is influenced by objects found in real life. She hopes her work allows viewers to feel enriched by the viewing experience.

“I try to make work that is beautiful but also interesting and draws people in,” Kussro said. “I make work that’s very detailed so there’s a lot for people to explore.”

Ashlee Brunson, Texas State alumna, is featured in the exhibit. Brunson graduated from Texas State with a BFA in studio art painting in 2018. She is currently working on a visual arts master’s at The Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

Brunson said she found the opportunity to display her work by fellow artists in her graduating class who shared the information through social media. She created three pieces for the exhibit; each is a used oil paint tube she painted patterns on.

During the time she created the pieces, Brunson said she was working on painting fabric patterns for her master’s program. She decided to reuse the tubes and recreated fabric patterns on them.

“The painting of the patterns on the tubes was to speak on the potential of what all can come from an oil tube,” Brunson said.

Brunson said her art focuses on abstract work like comics, animations and paintings. She enjoys the creative freedom that comes with being an abstract artist.

When Brunson first arrived at Texas State, she was unsure of her career direction. It was not until she took an introductory painting course when she discovered her passion for art.

“I was doing things I didn’t know I was capable of doing,” Brunson said. “I just knew whatever I was going to do for the rest of my life it was going to have to involve painting.”

Peter Arcidiacono, 218 Co-op Gallery member-owner and president, said it has been seminal for the gallery to open its creative platform to artists beyond the local area.

Arcidiacono said the gallery is an opportunity for artists to share their work, bond and exchange ideas with other artists.

“As an artist, you’re in your studio all the time, working on your work and wondering why you’re doing it,” Arcidiancono said. “Having an environment like this is allows you to develop that sense of community that is so important to have to make it as an artist.”

Arcidiancono said anyone interested in joining the gallery can submit an application at any time, which gets reviewed by the current gallery team. If approved, the artist will have a three-month trial with the gallery before officially becoming a member. Applications can be found here.

The benefits of becoming a member-owner include showcasing and selling artwork as well as participating in gallery events. The gallery primarily showcases work by member-owners. A new collection of artwork is introduced every three months.

Members are expected to pay monthly dues and are assigned eight hours of gallery coverage a month to help with the operation of the space. As a gallery member, artists are engaged in the decision-making and intricate makeup of the gallery. Members can lead workshops and organize exhibits as well.

For more information on 218 Co-op Gallery, visit their website. Follow @218coopgallery on Instagram to stay up-to-date on upcoming showcases and events.

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