Downtown art gallery opens; a test of survival

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Having recently moved to Fort Stockton, artist Steven M. Walker has already stationed his private studio on Nelson adjacent to the where the upcoming Fort Stockton Community Theater addition is to be built. After settling into town and making some connections, Walker swiftly opened his downtown “chunkArts Gallery” at 117 N. Main Street.

“The gallery is sort of in a limbo state right now,” said Walker. “I have a private art studio called “chunkArts” studio, so under the guise of chunkArts studio, the gallery is a branch of that. The gallery is already open to the public during its regular business hours or by appointment, but the real test is keeping the doors open.”

The Gallery’s hours are Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is currently showing artist Tom Curry's illustrations, David Winslow's photography, a print by Sophia Eisenbart, and some ceramics, paintings, and ink work by Steven M. Walker.

Walker explained that property owners Olga and Beto Gonzalez, Amy Terrazas and Tony Villarreal originally allowed him to use the space during the downtown “Sip, Shop and Stroll” event.

“They asked me to put some of my work up in the window here, so that’s how it all started,” he said. “Instead of just having some easels set up at the window with the door locked, I decided to take advantage of the people walking by and set up the space as a public art gallery for the evening. When Beto, Amy and Olga all walked in and saw what I did, they really liked it. It was at that moment we all thought to ourselves, ‘This could work’. The property owners decided they would help me stay open, so after the event I worked out a short-term deal with them through the end of the year. Depending on how well I do, that will determine whether this gallery stays open. This gallery being opened is all hinged on the community supporting it.”

Walker gave his thoughts on the gallery's survival and even a potential downtown arts district.

“Right now, there’s been a lot of verbal praise,” he said. “People tell me they’re very interested, they’re so happy, there are no galleries in town, this is a good thing for Fort Stockton, and that’s all great feedback. However, I do need to sell some art to keep this going. It’s not an art museum. I do want to educate and bring art to the community like an art museum, but I’ve got to move it out so I can bring new works in.”

Walker shared that the cost for the current artwork ranges from $65 to $650, which he says is very reasonable for fine art.

“I’ve currently got the work of Tom Curry who has an amazing pedigree,” he said. “His illustrations have been in The New York Times, Rolling Stones, Mother Jones, The Atlantic Monthly, Texas Monthly, The Washington Post, so on and so forth. We’ve got the photography of Alpine artist David Winslow and a print of a Nashville artist Sophia Eisenbart. If we can keep this gallery open, we can represent out-of-state artists as well as bridge the gap between artists in Alpine, Marfa, Midland and Odessa. There are so many positives factors to this, especially with trying to rebuild Main Street as a destination. With my studio, the gallery, and the new Fort Stockton Community Theater all in the same vicinity; this could easily become an art district that will lure in more tourism.”

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