After hosting a private opening reception last night, the Rockport Center for the Arts (RCA) will open its newly completed campus to the public today at noon.
Designed by Corpus Christi-based Richter Architects, with Teal Construction Company serving as the general contractor, the new $12.5 million campus is located one block from Aransas Bay. The 1.2-acre site includes a two-story, 14,000-square-foot arts and education building, which houses four galleries and five classrooms; the adjacent 8,000-square-foot Rockport Conference Center (The ROCC); and a 16,000-square-foot outdoor sculpture garden. Notably, the new building, made from concrete and steel, exceeds the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s hurricane requirements.
At the opening reception, Michael Cloud, the U.S. Representative for the State of Texas District 27, spoke about the destruction in Rockport caused by Hurricane Harvey, and the work the community has done to rebuild. He recalled, “It’s just over five years ago, but we remember what that was like when Harvey came through our community. You were the first hit here in Rockport. And I remember driving down the highway and seeing, it seemed like three stories’ level of debris for miles and miles and miles. … you know, anything that gets done like this, anything great, worthwhile in a community, it’s a lot of people coming together at the state level, the city, the county, and the federal level.”
Luis Purón, RCA Executive Director spoke of the years of work that went into planning for the new facility, including the leadership of Dr. Mitch West in 2015 on strategic planning toward the goal of an expanded campus, and the 2016 work of Terry Baiamonte, Jeff Wright, and John Jackson on negotiating the acquisition of the new campus’ land. Mr. Purón went on to thank and acknowledge the work of many others who supported the financial efforts in securing the millions of dollars needed to bring this project to fruition. In 2019, RCA received a $5 million grant from the United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support the new facility. Since that time, an additional $7.5 million was raised through the organization’s capital campaign, meaning that the organization has no debt from its campus project
The inaugural exhibitions, The Big Wave! and Standing Out 2022, feature RCA member artists. The Big Wave!, the annual member exhibition previously known as Currents, showcases 170 artists in the RCA’s largest gallery, the 1,600-square-foot HEB Gallery. Standing Out 2022 is a juried show featuring works by Alison Schuchs, Jim Blaylock, and Shelly Wiezba, who were selected from the 2022 members exhibition. Additionally, the John and Mary Willrodt Gift Shop will feature handmade works by RCA member artists. The inaugural exhibitions will run through January 2023, and the public will be able to access the building’s new education spaces — including multiple studios and a ceramics space — next month through an array of hands-on workshop opportunities.
In 2023, the ROCC will host the Rockport Film Festival, Silver Meltdown Runway Show, Guy Clark Music Festival, and the Clay Expo Weekend, along with numerous other event. The space includes a 4,400-square-foot ballroom, which can be divided into four smaller spaces, a 1,400-square-foot foyer and reception area, and a fully equipped catering and culinary arts kitchen.
Beyond serving as an outdoor space to display works from RCA’s permanent collection, The Patricia Bennett Moore Sculpture Garden connects the two buildings and will host outdoor performing arts events. Featured sculptures include Merry Time Romance (2021) by Kent Ullberg; Man’s Best Friend (1999) by Michael Atkinson; Lighthouse Fountain (2002) and Interlocking (1985) by Jesús Moroles; Uccelli (Birds of St. Francis) (1972) by Charles Umlauf; Walking White Flower (2011) by James Surls; The Inevitable Question, The Lure of Simple Inclinations, and The False Shadow of Transformation (2016) by Danville Chadbourne; and Days (2009) by Mark Williamson.
The public opening today marks the start of RCA’s new expanded hours: Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from noon to 4 pm. To learn more about the Rockport Center for the Arts, visit the organization’s website.