ARTPrenticeship 2019 Broadens Horizons for WISD Interns

By Kennedy Sam

In summer of 2018, through a partnership with Creative Waco, Waco ISD, Prosper Waco’s summer intern program, and generous local sponsors, ARTPrenticeship was brought to life. Ten rising seniors from Waco ISD gained real-world, concept-to-completion, mentored work experience and created the mural “1000 Hopes for Waco” in the process.

Richard C. Thomas (Photo by Andreas Zaloumis)

This summer, we are back for year two — but this time with two walls. Similar to last year, we’ve hired 12 apprentices from Waco ISD and six local professional artists serving as the creative team guiding the apprentices. One new addition to this year’s program is well-known New Orleans artist and muralist, Richard C. Thomas, serving as a teaching artist and lead designer on one of the murals.

Thomas’ work graces the New Orleans International Airport, an Iowan mural dedicated to immigration, 20th anniversary posters for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and on the walls at Waco’s own Kieran-Sistrunk Fine Art Gallery during the month of July.

You can find the murals in-progress at Brotherwell Brewing and the Family Health Center’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Clinic.

We want to get the Waco community involved as much as possible, so we invite you to Community Paint Days! Join our apprentices and creative team for the morning to paint and learn more about their experiences working with ARTPrenticeship, plus get a sneak peak of the designs. No experience needed, just come out and support our young creatives as they make their mark!

Family Health Center – MLK Jr. Clinic

July 13, 8 – 11 a.m.

Brotherwell Brewing

July 20, 8 – 11 a.m.

I sat down with two apprentices to hear about their experience thus far as a part of ARTPrenticeship 2019 program. Kaeleana Ramirez is a rising junior at University High School working with the mural team at the Family Health Center’s Martin Luther King Jr. clinic. Upon completing high school, she plans to attend college on the west coast or in Hawaii to study marine biology. Lillian Olvera is a recent graduate from University High School working with the mural team at Brotherwell Brewing. She plans to continue her education at McLennan Community College to study art.

What made you interested in applying for the ARTPrenticeship program this year?

Kaeleana: I love art! I’ve been taking advanced art classes since middle school. This upcoming year I’m moving up to Pre-AP Art, so when I heard of this program I had to apply.

Lillian: I actually wanted to participate in the program last year, but it didn’t work out. This year I came to the information session about the program at University and decided to apply. This is my first job, so I thought this would be a great opportunity do so something I’m passionate about and gain work experience.

How have you enjoyed working alongside the teaching artists?

K: I’ve definitely enjoyed working alongside the teaching artists.  I knew there were artists in town but I thought they typically focus on creating work that would go in a gallery, not dedicating their time to help teach high school apprentices how to paint murals.

L: This has been a fun experience and it’s cool seeing professional artists in our community. I’m mostly familiar with our art teachers who are professional artists too, but it’s interesting seeing and getting to work with people who are full time artists.

What were some of the goals that you set during the studio sessions for this summer? Do you feel like you’re on track to hit those goals?

K: The main goal was to broaden my horizon. Usually I create small projects like painting on canvases or spray painting, but I wanted to learn more ways to improve on my techniques. I also wanted to work on being less critical of my work. ARTPrenticeship has definitely taught me a lot about the creative process.

L: A few of my goals that I identified were to be able to work with the group full of other creatives, learn how to manage a project of this magnitude from concept to completion, down to how plan out a budget. I’ve definitely learned all of that and more.

Has working on a creative project like ARTPrenticeship impacted the type of working environment or career path you aspire to work in?

K: In general, it’s taught me a lot about working with a group and how to manage working alongside other people’s personalities. Although I don’t plan to go into the creative field, however, there are some creative qualities that will help me be successful.

L: My dream is to open up a studio like Marvel or Disney that focuses on design, animation, and fashion. This program has taught me some invaluable things that would help me create my studio and I’ve met a few people who want to help me attain that goal.

What has been one of the greatest lessons that you will take with you in the future?

K: There’s a lot! Learning how to work as a group, a part of a whole instead of as an individual has been an interesting lesson. We’ve learned how to work in different parts or sections but still communicate different ideas in a professional environment.

L: I’ve learned that it’s ok to make mistakes. You rarely get something right the first time, so sometimes you need to step away then come back with a clear mind. It’s all a part of the creative process.

To learn more about ARTPrenticeship visit us at

Kennedy Sam is the Director of Marketing and Communications for Creative Waco, McLennan County’s arts agency. As a longtime Waco resident, upon receiving her degree from Louisiana State University was excited to return to her hometown to begin her career serving the community she loves. In her spare time, she enjoys rediscovering all that Waco has to offer and exploring the many walking trails with her pup Bleu. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

Getting my yearly dose of Shakespeare… in Waco!

InSite is a “creative placemaking” initiative in Waco, Texas. Creative placemaking uses the arts and design as tools for transforming communities, strengthening local identity, and leading social change.  Right now, they are focusing on theatre production, but they plan to offer arts education programming for kids and adults, and opportunities to get involved in public and pop-up art and other projects!

Their current project is a series of three “Shakespeare Studios.”  Each studio will include a collection of scenes, sonnets, and soliloquies focused on a theme.  The first of these studios “Love and War” will be presented July 16 at Brotherwell Brewing.

In today’s post a local high school student shares her excitement about finding an opportunity to indulge her love of Shakespeare. – ABT  

By Zoë Seagle

I have been acting in Shakespearean plays since I was eight years old. I was a part of a homeschool co-op that performed yearly at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie. I remember watching the older kids performing their main roles, delivering their monologues, and delving into their characters to the point that they weren’t themselves anymore. I could only dream! I was this very tiny, very homeschooled, terrified kid. The first time someone introduced themselves to me, I screamed and ran behind a couch for protection. (I stayed there, crying, for a good hour.) My director at the time, Tracey Villanueva, swore she would break me out of my shell. I was not pleased with her determination, but I don’t know where I would be if she had not seen through my walls.

You know the cliché poster in the child’s room of their idol? Well, Shakespeare was the guy on my wall. I was fascinated with his work and lifestyle. I mean, he made 2000+ words up and over 30+ plays! That’s creativity at its finest. 

Two years ago, I enrolled in a public high school, and sadly that ended my performances in the Scarborough Fair. Not having my yearly dose of Shakespeare was strange. I searched for a group during those two Shakespeare-dry years that performed or studied Shakespeare plays in Waco, but no such luck. I did manage to find Jubilee Theatre, though, the small, tight-knit group I soon called home. Jubilee’s director, Trent Sutton, blew my mind with his actor-focused plays. It was like nothing I’d ever been a part of before. When he told me about how he was transitioning to InSite, a growing theatre organization taking a huge interest in Shakespeare, I was absolutely thrilled! A group that would give me my yearly dose of Shakespeare and have one of the best directors I’ve ever had? Consider me family!

Since following Trent to Insight, I have met Luann Jennings, the founder of InSite, and Stefanie Wheat-Johnson, who both have very mesmerizing ways of directing. I’m excited to watch InSite grow and become something absolutely amazing for Waco. So, keep an eye out for our productions and spread the word about InSite to your friends and family! Look out Waco, because here we come!

Zoë Seagle is an 11th grade student at Rapoport Academy. She loves to perform, play music, and write when she isn’t at school. She has been singing and acting for many years now, and hopes to continue to do so in the future.

What’s in a name?

“’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague….
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet….”

Juliet was saying that a family name, or a group identity, is less important than the qualities of an individual. However, in Juliet’s speech and the rest of the famous “balcony scene,” Shakespeare reveals both Romeo and Juliet to be naïve and blinded by love. In fact, names mean a lot, as the young lovers would soon learn.

What does the name “Shakespeare” mean to you? His name gets used like a “brand” to mean someone who’s good with words, the way someone who’s smart in science gets called “Einstein.”

I’ve loved Shakespeare since I was a little girl. I grew up in Atlanta, and my dad used to take me to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival every summer, where we’d see three different Shakespeare plays in two days. Because I was young, and often didn’t understand everything that was being said by the adults around me, it didn’t bother me that I didn’t understand everything that was being said on the stage. When his stories were being performed by actors who knew what they were doing, his fancy words were a bonus, not a barrier.  

Does Shakespeare have anything to say to us today in Waco? Some friends and I think so. I’m a theatre director and, since I moved to Waco nearly three years ago, I’ve gotten to know many people in the theatre community. Two in particular, Stefanie Wheat-Johnson and Trent Sutton, have similar interests and aspirations to mine, and we decided to collaborate on three “Shakespeare Studio” productions. These will bring together the best scenes, speeches, and sonnets from Shakespeare’s work around a particular theme. Our first, Love and War, will be performed July 16-18, and will feature a dozen talented actors ranging from high school students to community theatre regulars to professional actors. Our second Shakespeare Studio production will be Music, Magic…and Murder at Halloween, followed by Law and Order in the spring. Then…a full-length Shakespeare-in-the-Park production next summer!

Our arts organization is called “InSite.” What does that name mean? It’s a play on the word “insight,” which we believe happens when we thoughtfully engage with the arts. It’s also a play on the word “site,” or location. Since we don’t have a theatre building, we’ll be doing the plays “in sites” around Waco. Love and War will be presented at Brotherwell Tap Room in East Waco, which is much more like the places where Shakespeare’s plays would have originally been presented than the dark, quiet theatres of today.

Our name also refers to the fact that InSite is a “creative placemaking” initiative. The practice of creative placemaking is based in the belief that the arts and creativity are necessary to the identity and thriving of a community. When we gather around stories, events, and works of art that are meaningful to us, we help make Waco a great place to live, work, and visit!

In addition to Shakespeare, we have more fun and interesting performances planned! Learn more about InSite and the Shakespeare Studios, buy tickets, and join our email list at; and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Luann Purcell Jennings (writer), Trent Sutton, and Stefanie Wheat-Johnson have, among them, more than 50 years of experience in directing, teaching, community building, Christian ministry, organizational startup, and more. They are creative, motivated, and determined to see Waco impacted by the ways that art can transform this beautiful city.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

Gobsmacked: Waco Dance Company Explores the Risk and Beauty of Self-Discovery

Interview by Ty Hall

Have you ever been Gobsmacked? Utterly astonished and astounded?  On April 6 you have an opportunity to explore what it means to be “Gobsmacked” through an evening of modern dance, music, food and wine presented by Brooke Schlecte and Waco’s Out on a Limb Dance Company.   

Out on a Limb

L. Brooke Schlecte, founder and artistic director of Out on a Limb Dance Company, was born and raised in Waco, Texas. After graduating from Reicher Catholic High School in 1999, she attended Kilgore Junior College, where she performed with the world-famous Kilgore College Rangerettes.  After graduating from Kilgore in 2001, she continued her dance education at the University of Texas in Austin where she graduated with honors in 2003 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Dance.  “I have always danced. It has always been a part of me.” Says Brooke, “It has continued to guide me, teach me, excite me, challenge me, and keep me curious. I just keep searching and digging for the areas I love most and the ideas I want to explore with choreography.”

Schlecte graduated with a Master’s of Fine Arts in Dance from TWU in 2007.  That same year she moved back home to Waco and founded Out On A Limb Dance Company.  Since its formation, Out On a Limb Dance Company (OOLD) has choreographed and performed across the nation, including Texas, Oklahoma, California, and New York.

Schlecte and Out on a Limb bring the dynamic element of modern dance to Waco’s coalescing arts scene. According to their website, “OOLD is passionate about investigating new ways of thinking about movement and dance-making, without abandoning the rich traditions of formal dance. We believe that the creative mind and body at every age is intuitive and worth sharing with others, therefore, we aspire to redefine the body in motion and propose a new model for dance in the community of Waco and beyond.”  

But how does all that lead to being gobsmacked?

In the winter of 2018 Schlecte discovered and quickly immersed herself in an ancient tool for self-exploration that is enjoying a renaissance in recent years — the Enneagram.  The Enneagram — from the Greek words “ennéa,” meaning “nine” and “grámma,” meaning something “written” – helps us understand the human psyche by mapping and explaining nine interconnected personality types.

Through the healing and journey brought about by studying the Enneagram, Schlecte realized she uses the art of dance to develop understanding, clarity, healing, and as an agent for change. She found she feels strength in this space because it is the thing in her life that is risky and “out on a limb” and somehow that risk balances her other, more safe, way of living. 

In the process of developing Gobsmacked, she began collaborating with dancers, musicians, costume designers, photographers and videographers and very quickly a small dream percolated into the giant vision that you will have the chance to experience on April 6.  

Gobsmacked is about the beauty that lies in the deep, unearthed cervices of our being. It is about finding the people around you who are willing to show you who you are and see who you really are. Finding the unmasked self is scary and sometimes ugly. When we pull off the veil it is easy to feel gobsmacked. 

Brooke and her company have been developing Gobsmacked for the last two years.

What’s the creative process that leads to a “Gobsmacked?”

“My creative process as a choreographer changes with each new project,” says Schlecte. “So many variables influence me: life situation, time, money, how many dancers I have, how the dancers engage in the process, music, or music collaboration, concept, vision, venue, and audience (probably more things). 

“So, I gather what I know about what I have and what my vision is and start there. Improvisation and collaboration with dancers and musicians really help create the pallet of the movement language and from there usually a story unfolds (abstract or not). I try hard to follow the piece without imposing insecurities or judgements and really let the dance live for a while.  We take lots of videos and have many discussions about the piece that is unfolding.”

“From there, it really is all about editing, feedback, refining, and clarifying dynamics that really bring the piece to life.  During the process a lot of context questions get answered: where are we, who are we, what do we see, what are we wearing, what world do we live in, what is our relationship to each other, what are the sounds, and finally how would we name this world (i.e. dance title).”

“In my opinion, modern dance is the dance form that keeps asking questions, keeps evolving, and allows the choreographer and performers to grow and flourish with each new dance process. It is a dance form that has the human experience in mind. We are not just dancers pretending to be dancers. We are people, moving, exploring and understanding a movement language and creating new ideas with it.”

“Modern Dance is a form that has infinite ways of developing when each person interacts in the process. I love how modern dance is never the same, there is never a code to follow, there is less good vs. bad in measuring dance, and more of a life-long process. I believe that no dance is every really finished. There are times that products are presented to the audience, but there are always more places to explore and dig in each piece.”

How to see Gobsmacked…

You can get tickets to Gobsmacked here: Tickets.  You can learn more about Out On A Limb Dance from their website: or Facebook page:  “The show has something for everyone,” says Schlecte, “with food, drinks, dance, theatrical elements and music.  I really try to create an experience that is new and engaging with one that is comfortable in familiar.”

What’s next for Schlecte and Out On a Limb?

“I am completely consumed in Gobsmacked and cannot think about anything else at the moment,” says Schlecte. “And after this show, it will be a process of recovery and reflection. My plans are to not force my next idea or what that concept will be. But, I do know that I want to do something like Gobsmacked again in the future.  Gobsmacked has probably been the most fun creative experience so far and I very much intend doing it again.

This post based on an interview conducted by Ty Hall. Ty Hall lives in Texas, makes up stories, and tries to be good.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

Holiday gifts that help Waco’s artistic community thrive

By Bradi Zapata

The holiday season is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to start stuffing stockings and wrapping presents. This year, get creative by giving a gift that helps Waco’s artistic and cultural community flourish. A number of local arts organizations offer memberships, local art and fundraising projects that make great presents for the art fanatic on any shopping list. Here are a few Waco treasures that’ll look great wrapped in a glimmering bow and placed under the tree.

  1. Local Art

Local art may be slightly challenging to wrap in decorative paper, but with ample sizes, colors, textures and techniques, there’s a piece for any wall needing a revamp. Purchase local art at a variety of places including Anthem Studios on Franklin Avenue, Christi’s Interiors on Austin Avenue, Cultivate 7Twelve on Austin Avenue, Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits on Austin Avenue, Interior Glow on Franklin Avenue, Klassy Glass on Austin Avenue, Stanton Studios on Rogers Hill Road, Studio Gallery on West Waco Drive, The Art Center of Waco’s traveling exhibition and The Findery on South Eighth Street.

  1. Cultivate 7Twelve Membership

Since its opening in 2017, Cultivate 7Twelve gallery and event venue has helped further curate a fine arts audience in Waco. Cultivate offers two membership programs: Sower and Culturist. Sower memberships begin at $12 a month and provide one, three and six month payment options. The membership benefits include 15 percent off prints and notecards, two reserved seats at “Cocktails with the Curator,” a newsletter with special event information and access to exclusive events. Culturist memberships begin at $35 a month and also provide one, three and six month payment options. Culturist members receive all the benefits from the Sower membership, an exclusive back patio party every First Friday, 20 percent off all classes and workshops, reserved seating at “Sound Sessions,” 20 percent off “Palette” Art-to-Table dinners and discounted pricing when renting spaces. More information is available at

  1. Waco 52 Playing Cards

Waco 52 began in 2017 as an art exhibition in Austin, Texas, which showcased the talents of 52 artists from Waco and McLennan County. After the exhibition, the pieces were printed on decks of playing cards, many showcasing signature people and locations in Waco like Doris Miller and the Alico Building. Waco 52 allows residents to hold a piece of home in the palm of their hands and take it with them wherever they go. Retailing for $19.99, Waco 52 playing cards can be purchased at locations including Common Grounds, Dr Pepper Museum, Cultivate 7Twleve and Interior Glow. All proceeds go toward the growth and development of the creative sector in Waco. Purchase them online and see the full list of retailers at 52.

  1. Waco Symphony Orchestra Tickets

One of the oldest arts organizations in Waco, the Waco Symphony Orchestra enriches the local creative community by bringing live classical music to Central Texas. Conductor Stephen Heyde leads performances, working with musicians from Waco and surrounding cities. Performances following the holidays include Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Martinez, the Waco Symphony Orchestra, Henry Winkler, and Haeun and Hayoung Moon, a talented brother-sister duo from a Waco-area high school. Tickets to all season concerts and special events are available at

  1. Waco Civic Theatre Membership

Waco Civic Theatre provides the heart of Texas with a wide range of theatrical productions and a platform for education. The theater produces six main stage productions each season, including classic dramas, Broadway musicals and comedies. 2018-2019 season memberships begin at $85 and are valid until May 20, 2019. If purchased before Nov. 8, the membership includes admission to “Once,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “Mamma Mia.” Individual performance tickets start at $16. Waco Civic Theatre also produces Season Extras and Children’s Theatre performances. More information is available at

Bradi Zapata has been working with Creative Waco as the Marketing and PR intern since May. She is a senior at Baylor University majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Business Administration. She has a passion for writing, marketing, designing and photographing, because these platforms share the unique stories of inspirational individuals. Bradi has enjoyed being a part of Waco’s flourishing creative community, as it is continually growing, adapting and thriving.

Communities of Waco: El Ballet Folklorico Las Estrellas de Waco

By Alicia Pesina

I have been the instructor for El Ballet Folklorico Las Estrellas de Waco for 16 years. Ballet Folklorico is a traditional Mexican dance which highlights local culture from various regions and states in Mexico. The costumes, styles of dance, and music vary from state to state.

Our group was organized in October 1998 to help promote Mexican Culture in the Waco Area. We began with one group comprised of four young ladies; we have now grown into three groups ranging from the age of seven and up. Some members of our older group have been dancing for more than 25 years.

My mom, Mary Lou Pesina, has been the organizer, dressmaker, director, recruiter, dress fluffer, and so much more. She coordinates every performance and manages all members of the group. Mary Lou Pesina is the one who wanted to start the group.  With hard work and determination, she has made the group what it is today.

When we first began our group, we would often go to workshops in Corpus Christi.  These workshops included Maestros (instructors) brought from Mexico to teach songs from their native state. They would also include a seminar which demonstrated the traditional costumes, hairpieces, and accessories needed for each State.

We sought out a local instructor several years after the group was established. We met Veronica De La Rosa while she was attending Baylor University. She was able to help us in so many ways. Her mother had organized a Folklorico group in Seguin, Texas. Veronica taught us various dances from all different states and shared her expertise in different Folklorico costumes and designs. She eventually became a part of our family! She married one of my cousins and they now have four beautiful children together.

All members are volunteers from our local community who have a passion for dancing. Our beginner group starts at age seven and we require no previous dancing experience. However, for the Intermediate (Ages 12-17) and Advanced Group (Ages 17-and up), we require previous dance experience. These beautiful dances are difficult and require challenging skirt work, footwork, and choreography. Our dances require hours of practice to perfect, we rehearse every week and also learn new songs every year.

We have a yearly membership fee of $50.  Each member is also responsible for purchasing Folklorico earrings and ballet shoes. Our group provides all costumes for our members free of charge. Our costumes are sewn by my mother or purchased from donations we receive from our performances and membership fees. As our group has grown, the costs of costumes have become a major expense.

We practice and perform eight months out of the year. We begin practicing in March and we start scheduling performances in April. Our performance schedule begins in April and our final performance is held at the Fiesta de La Raza at St. Francis Church. We love performing for all types of events around the Waco area. Sometimes I don’t realize some people have never seen a Ballet Folklorico perform. It gives me a greater appreciation for our group and our ability to share these beautiful dances with the Waco community.  One advantage of having a larger group is the ability for us to showcase the diversity of Mexico.

This group is a major labor of love, especially since everything is done on a volunteer basis. Most of our dancers and parents work full time. Parents usually rush from school to dance practice. Some students come from outside the Waco area, and some families have multiple children in each group. I teach dance class after work for 3 hours back to back, and at times, it is very overwhelming. What pushes us each day is our passion for dance and the love for our group.

This group is our second family. I love all my students as if they were my own. I’ve taught members in school, seen them graduate, go on to college, get married and now have families of their own. I’ve watched families grow and I’m always so happy to hear, “As soon as my baby is old enough, we are putting her in the group with her brother/ sister!” We are much more than a group, we are a Folklorico family.

Our main goal is to share our culture with everyone. We have to remember and represent our culture and we hope to inspire those around us. We are a country of immigrants and we can share the love and beauty of our Mexican heritage through Ballet Folklorico. This year we celebrate 20 years of dancing for Waco and the surrounding areas.

When people recognize and appreciate the work we put into the group, it makes us feel proud. I have to thank my dancers, parents, and all of our supporters for encouraging us each year. We appreciate the members who take time away from their families help us entertain and share our beautiful culture. I must specifically thank my mother for continuously encouraging me to dance and teach others. I have been dancing Ballet Folklorico for 24 years and I hope to continue this tradition for many years to come.

Born and raised in Waco, Texas, Alicia Pesina has been the instructor for Las Estrellas de Waco Ballet Folklorico for 16 years.  Interested in scheduling a performance?  Contact Mary Lou Pesina at 254-855-1759.  Facebook page: Ballet Folklorico Estrellas de Waco.

Whether it’s playing trumpet in the “Friday Band” at MCC,  or riding with the Waco Knight Riders, or an afternoon playing with the Waco Disc Golf Association, one of the wonderful things about Waco is that there are lots of ways to find community here.  Where do you find community in Waco?  Would you be interested in writing about it? If so, let us know.  Email [email protected]. If you have an idea for a post.  You could be seeing your own picture on this page!


Street Art in Waco: By the People, For the People

(The current exhibit at local art and culture hot spot Cultivate 712 is called “Writing on the Wall.”  It features the street art of world-renowned, anonymous street artist “Banksy,” specifically his/her installation “Haight Street Rat: This is where I draw the line” in addition to artwork by Waco and Central Texas artists.  Bringing the work of this famous/infamous street artist to town made us wonder about the state of street art in Waco.  Steve Veracruz of the Central Texas Artist Collective (CTAC) agreed to dig into it a little for us.  Thanks for writing, Steve! The “Writing on the Wall” exhibit is free and open to the public during Cultivate 7Twelve’s open hours until Saturday Nov. 17.) – ALW)

By Steve Veracruz

Street art is not new to Waco.  Sometimes it seems like street art and graffiti styles fill up any place resembling wall space. There is a fine line between calling graffiti “street art” and actual works of art. It all depends where you draw the line I suppose.

There really are no boundaries when it comes to street art because the actual environment becomes the canvas. Street art can be about the statement…a street artist has something to say and it will be revealed on a grand scale, with a touch of controversy perhaps.  But, that is not always the case. It may also be about reflecting a particular area with some visual form of identity.

One particularly talented individual in Waco with experience in street art goes by the name Skcoobaveli. He has created outstanding works of art everywhere, from bridges to buildings. He is also one of Waco’s famed tattooists, as well as the winner to one of CTAC’s special art exhibitions!

Skcoobaveli acknowledges the many street and graffiti artists before him.  Building on that, he hopes to create a brand known for its tasteful qualities. Businesses have reached out to him to help encourage traffic through the attraction of his art.

Skcoobaveli explains that areas with the less attractive graffiti and even vulgarity are mere places for practice. They are places where adolescent behavior grows into work to be shared, for the people.  He also noted that sometimes a wall becomes a space for something amazing to be created…a legacy gets left behind.

“It feeds the soul to be remembered,” says Skcoobaveli. “Keeps the Ghost alive. And without ghost to chase, Scooby Doo wouldn’t have a job.  Feed the memory. Be a ghost chaser. Spread the stories. RIP Benjamin Franklin, may I always have you in my pockets, close by.”

Sal Valesco is another former street artist in Waco. He has seen and worked with some Waco’s street art pioneers. His take on the movement is to recognize its value. It truly exercises the right of free speech, given it is done properly.

“To me the street art in a city always gives me a reading,” explains Sal, “like a pulse of what’s happening in that city.” Sal understands the necessary information that street art can reveal. It can promote style, politics, and more importantly, culture.

Since his street art days, Sal has taken his skills to the next level and created his own company, Epitome.  Through Epitome he provides advertising and marketing for many of the sprouting local businesses waking up in Waco. His once hidden designs developed while decorating the street under the cover of night, now help businesses explain and promote their identity.

Sal likes a quote from soccer star, Pele, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” “Those words couldn’t be more true,” says Sal. I’m looking forward to embarking on this new venture and to putting our best foot forward. Follow @epitome_tx to keep up with our new projects and to get more info.” (#epitome)

Any form of art continues to generate, encourage, influence, and plant the seeds for so much more we have not yet seen. I feel absolutely honored to be able to work with so much of Waco’s talent so far. The best quote to take us out with is, “We have not seen anything yet!”

Steve Veracruz is Co-founder and communicator for Central Texas Artist Collective. He is a multimedia artist and strong advocate for collaborative success. He likes to say, “No big accomplishments are created alone, and our city is on the way.”  For more information about the Central Texas Artist Collective (CTAC) email [email protected] .

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.


Arts & Culture: Busy Summer for the Central Texas Artist Collective (CTAC)…Forward to Fall!

As the hot summer of 2018 comes to an end, we reflect on our adventures in the growing arts community and look at what’s coming for the fall months.

(Underground Railroad Code Quilt by Jamie Graham)

In June, Central Texas Artist Collective (CTAC) kicked off the summer by creating the BLACK BOLD exhibition. It was featured at the Juneteenth Family Fun Day event. We asked the artists to create artwork that reflected on African American’s forgotten history through today’s Black Culture. The artistic visions from everyone’s point of view with historical accuracy through research and modern-day reflections were encouraged. The turn out was small, but the artwork was stunning.  Several pieces honored musicians like Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, and local favorite, Byron Swan. There was pop style piece of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr that was created in bold hues of blue. One unique mixed media piece was created out of rice, beans, and lentils that depicted the portrait of the first female Buffalo Soldier, Cathey Williams. Another woman’s first piece was a tribute to the first female African American to receive a pilot’s license and was affectionately called Queen Bess. My favorite piece was a thoughtfully crafted Underground Railroad Code Quilt. Each square would safely guide the traveler to their destination and on to freedom. This exhibit created an educational experience that enhanced the Juneteenth celebration weekend and continued to be shown downtown at Klassy Glass, on Austin Ave. Our hope is that it would inspire or encourage viewers to continue discovering and to create their own artwork.

The comic and pop culture community continue to thrive and gain momentum in Texas. CTAC members travelled south to Austin, TX for the Greater Austin Comic-Con. If you have never been to this type of convention, you can expect to see attendees in the thousands fully embracing the vibe of the comic and pop culture environment. You will find a variety of original artwork by the creators themselves, fan art, crafts, costume designers, actors, cosplayers, and so much more. The best part for CTAC was holding space for a talented team of artists, known as Fan Addicts Waco. They have banded together to put their style of comic and pop art in front of viewers at GeekFest in Killeen, TX and at the Bell County Comic-Con in Belton, TX. Locally, the Fan Addicts Waco bunch holds art exhibits at Bare Arms Brewing, on LaSalle Ave. The current exhibit, which started September 15, features Anime fan art.

Photo by Steve Veracruz; Left to Right: Joel Colosimo, Armando Ramirez, Shay MacMorran, Josh Bueno

Photo by Steve Veracruz

It was nice to give back to our community in July. Several CTAC members helped Doreen Ravenscroft of Waco Cultural Arts Festival, by providing face painting at McLane Stadium for the 4th of July festivities. It was a lot of work and fun!

Then, First Friday in July, the Pop and Comic Art Exhibit opened at Cultivate7Twelve. This was the first time CTAC collaborated with Cultivate7Twelve to co-curate an art exhibit that took over the two downstairs gallery spaces. We had been talking about it since December; even though the curators changed several times. In the end, together we produced an exhibit to remember. While CTAC focused on new and emerging artists who have spent most of their lives creating comic art; Cultivate was able to reach more established artists to fill in the traditional pop style of art. Both coming together to create a vibrant experience for the senses.

Photo by random person (Thank you so much!)

Also, during the exhibiting month, CTAC featured Rachael Bryant, a multi-talented artist. She led a visual discussion on how to create POP and Comic Art Make-up for Cosplayers and everyday use. Rachel is a rare talent. Anything she can think of, she will find a way to create it. Over the past 3 years, we have seen Rachel use her Special FX artistry to create Superheroes and Villains, the Suicide Squad, and an estranged family trio of Gamora, Nebula, and Thanos.

Photo by Angie Veracruz; Left to right: Steve Veracruz, Dani, Rachael Bryant, Natasha West

We wrapped up this one-of-a-kind summer with another trip to Austin for the inaugural MexAmeriCon at the beautiful Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. As the name entails, this event was specifically created to build up the LatinX comic and art community. Mexican Americans from all over Texas gathered at this convention to share, sell and promote their artwork or their upcoming adventures. Angie Veracruz spoke about what CTAC does for the new and emerging Artist and how the arts community in Waco has seen a renaissance of creativity throughout the City of Waco. She introduced the attending Artists for a panel discussion about their art, their passion to create, and where do they go from here. Concluded by a Q&A session lead by Steve Veracruz. Our day wrapped up with a live performance by Isis Lee.

Photo by Jessica Moreno; Front Row: Iris Wamalwa Naka, Joey Gonzales, Daniel Barron, Genaro Barron. Standing: Isis Lee, Steve Veracruz, Angie Veracruz

Upcoming Events and Art Happenings you don’t want to miss!

  • Sept & Oct – Independent art exhibits at Klassy Glass, curated by Deborah Reed-Propst
  • Sept 15 through Sept 29 – 2nd Annual Climate Change Art Exhibit Reception at the Waco Winery
  • Sept 15 – Anime Exhibit at Bare Arms Brewery
  • Oct 5, 6 , 7 – Waco Cultural Arts Fest at Indian Springs Park
  • Oct 27 – Witchy Woman’s Whistle Fair 2018 at Whistle Stop in Crawford, TX

Angie Veracruz is an intuitive artist who is influenced by the world around us and reflective insights. She is the mother of three beautiful girls and their biggest education advocate. She is also the Executive Director of Central Texas Artist Collective. She is a member of Texans for the Arts and an arts advocate in the making.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.






Communities of Waco: If it’s Tuesday, it’s Ukulele Time!

By Shelley Cotten

(FYI – Dates and times for Ukulele Orchestra may change from time to time — for most up to date information please check their Facebook Page.  Thank you! – ABT)

In June of 2015, my husband and I were on vacation with a dear friend in Sedona, AZ and happened upon the “Largest Ghost Town in America,” Jerome, AZ.  While dining at a quaint little downtown restaurant, suddenly the door opened and the place was overtaken by a band of ukulele players who had their instruments, music books and other necessary “equipment” with them.  Turns out we had happened upon the local ukulele orchestra’s weekly practice spot and were invited to play along.  They had some extra ukuleles with them and, although we had no prior experience with the instruments, it was easy to strum along in rhythm with them (well, the strumming was easy, rhythm maybe not).  They were preparing for the upcoming Fourth of July parade and we were sorry that we wouldn’t be there to see it – something about a marching ukulele group just seems like it needs to be witnessed.  It was so much fun that when we got back home to Waco, we decided to start a ukulele group here.  The first meeting of the Waco Ukulele Orchestra was held in October of 2016.

Since then, the group has grown and shrank, ebbed and flowed.  Some have come one or a few times and then moved on (literally or figuratively); some music students have come for extra credit; some have come searching for community and a place of respite from the daily grind.  Whatever the reason, we have been blessed with a variety of personalities, stories, and musical abilities.  The group ranges in age from high school to retired, and in ability from beginner to “expert.”  Our high school player is very talented and we are fortunate that she has the time and desire to share her abilities with us.  While there are no “assignments” or “jobs,” there are areas where individuals shine and the strengths of the members are well-diversified, from “leading” the practices, to getting gigs, to keeping everyone informed of practices, performances, etc., everyone has input and a place.  Finding community in this group is as easy as showing up.

So what do we do, where do we go and how do we “do community?”  Beginning in December of 2016, our first outing was “caroling” to nursing homes.  We had a diverse group – friends and relatives of the players, some percussionists in the form of youngsters with bells to ring during Jingle Bells (man, could they jingle the heck out of those bells); and, of course, headbands with antlers, candy canes, and lights for those of us willing to wear them.  Since that first performance, we have been to several nursing homes, played at the mall during the Christmas season, and our largest “gig” so far has been at the McLennan Community College Foundation’s Hearts in the Arts Theatre Gala in February of 2018, when the group played during the dinner portion of the event.

We originally met twice a month; however, in September, we will begin meeting weekly.  First and third Tuesdays will be focused on rehearsing songs for upcoming performances; second and fourth Tuesdays will be geared more towards learning the instrument, chords, strumming patterns, tuning, changing strings, etc.  However, all sessions are open to everyone.

The time together on Tuesday evenings, for me, is a period of stepping away from the busyness of life and going back to that great vacation in AZ.  The players may change but the comradery doesn’t – there’s just something about music that transcends time, talent, and location and allows me to nestle in my warm, cuddly, blanket of memories.  While I can’t speak for the others in the group, clearly, there is something that keeps people coming back – while the enjoyment of playing itself cannot be underestimated, I believe there’s more there and that the Waco Ukulele Orchestra has filled not a “void,” but a niche.  No matter one’s age, life stage, economic status, employment status, or significant other status, everyone needs a sense of community in one form or another; this is our way and we hope that you find your way – to us, or to another type of activity – find your spot, claim it, live it, dream it, be it, and then share it!

So, if you find yourself in need of something to do on a Tuesday, come check us out – 7:00 p.m., 2426 Columbus Avenue.  Everyone is welcome – bring a ukulele, a music stand, and a great attitude and prepare for rip-roaring fun and making new friends!  Even if you don’t play, we may need a manager and a costume designer down the road!

Shelley Cotten is the Coordinator of Operations and Scholarships for the McLennan Community College Foundation.  A native of Lubbock, TX, she and her husband moved to Waco from Swan River, Manitoba in 2013.  They have a daughter, son-in-law, two grandchildren, and two dogs.  The grandchildren, of course, have top billing.

Whether it’s playing trumpet in the “Friday Band” at MCC,  or riding with the Waco Knight Riders, or an afternoon playing with the Waco Disc Golf Association, one of the wonderful things about Waco is that there are lots of ways to find community here.  Where do you find community in Waco?  Would you be interested in writing about it? If so, let us know.  Email [email protected]. If you have an idea for a post.  You could be seeing your own picture on this page!

Getting down to the Work of Art

By Luann Jennings

This fall Creative Waco, our local arts agency, will debut an eight-week course in business skills for visual, performing, and literary artists and arts students, along with three special professional development workshops.

The course is based on Work of Art: Business Skills for Artists, developed by Springboard for the Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota. I had the privilege of visiting St. Paul in July (where the high temperature was 83…) to be trained in the curriculum, and I’m excited to share it with Waco’s artists and creatives. I’ve been teaching arts business development and entrepreneurship for a number of years, and the Work of Art program is a terrific framework for starting your creative career or moving it forward. Springboard’s instructors have taught the Work of Art content “at arts organizations, libraries and colleges in over 80 communities in the Upper Midwest, and [it has been] replicated across the country by artists, arts organizations, and colleges and universities.”

The eight sessions will cover career and business planning, goal-setting and productivity, communicating about your work, pricing, record-keeping, legal issues, and more.

We’ll also hold three additional workshops using the Work of Art material. The first will be a free introductory session on Why Artists Need Business Skills, to help potential participants decide whether Work of Art is for them (date and location TBA).

Then, in November, we’ll hold two special workshops. On Saturday, November 3, we’ll cover Marketing, Branding, and Promotion; and on Friday evening, November 16, we’ll talk about Fundraising and Grantwriting, with a special emphasis on the Creative Waco AMP Grant and Texas Commission on the Arts grants. Those registered for the eight-week course may attend the Marketing and Fundraising workshops for free, but registration will also be open to those not enrolled in the course.

Work of Art will meet weekly beginning the week of September 23 and will conclude the week before Thanksgiving. Participants may attend either a morning or weeknight session. The days and location are still being decided, but if you want to learn more when we have the info, sign up for Creative Waco’s enewsletter, follow us on social media, or write to me at [email protected] and I’ll send you the info as soon as I have it.

Luann Jennings is the Project Manager for Artist Professional Development at Creative Waco. She is a theatre director and has been working in arts leadership, entrepreneurship, and education for a long time. Luann and her husband Chuck, a jazz guitarist you can find playing locally, moved to Waco from New York City two years ago to invest in the arts community and cultural life here.