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50-year-old Llano Fine Arts Guild more than just for show

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

LLANO — When Marcus and Valerie Hammons moved to Llano from Houston about 19 months ago, Valerie confided she wasn’t sure she would fit in among the Hill Country community.

But when she and her husband plugged themselves into the Llano Fine Arts Guild, something happened.

“Everything just opened up for us,” Valerie said. “We just became a part of the community. I don’t think that would have happened had it not been for the guild and the gallery.”

The Llano Fine Arts Guild, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, provides a place where local artists can show and sell their art as well as practice it. But even more, it brings together artists from across Llano County and the Highland Lakes in a supportive network.

“I think the guild like this is so important, especially in a smaller community,” Marcus said. “It gives local artists a place they can display and sell their work. Without the gallery, it would be much harder for artists to show their work.”

The guild can probably trace its roots to the 1950s, when Anne Harrison and Stella Hoerster of the Woman’s Culture Club of Llano realized the importance of developing the arts in the community. The duo invited Elizabeth Keefer Boatwright, an Austin art teacher, to come to Llano and offer class. For several years, she taught watercolor classes there.

Over the next few years, watercolor enthusiasts continued to meet on the screened porch of the Woman’s Culture Club and became known as the Llano Watercolor Society. While this group didn’t start the guild, their efforts probably laid the groundwork. In 1963, six women gathered in Hallie Stribling’s home and formed the Adult Art Club. This would eventually become the Llano Fine Arts Guild.

Those early efforts live today through the guild members and the Llano Fine Art Gallery, 503 Bessemer Ave.

Inside the gallery, people can check out works from all the different local artists. Though watercolors and paintings make up the largest portion of art, Marcus explained there are several other forms, including woodworking, sculpture, jewelry, fused glass and collages.

“We have some really good artists in the area, and I’m not sure people realize that,” he said.

His wife’s collage hangs on a wall in the back room of the gallery. She laughed at how she first began creating collages — out of boredom.

“When I was a kid, I would get bored, like kids do, and my mom would hand me a bunch of magazines and say, ‘Here, do something with this,'” Valerie said. Those early collage efforts eventually blossomed again when the couple moved to Llano.

And that’s one of the great things about a gallery such as the Llano Fine Arts Guild: the strong mix of media, styles and forms.

While the guild’s gallery provides space for artists to show and sell their work, the organization isn’t just about that. Marcus explained a big part of the guild is giving to the community, whether it’s through supporting the artists, developing future artists or helping transform a depot garden. The guild even offers youth summer camps.

The gallery provides space for artists to work and also holds a monthly artist demonstration for which people can pay $5 for a three-hour lesson.

“The guild is really for the community,” Marcus said. “It’s really just about serving the community.”

The Llano Fine Arts Guild Gallery is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. It’s closed Monday and Tuesday with the exception of the monthly demonstration. Go to www.llanofineartsguild.com or call (325) 247-4839 for more information.

daniel@thepicayune.com