Spellerberg Projects 2019 Year In Review

Hollie Brown stands in front of a mural  and speaks to a group.
Photo by Jacqueline Saragoza McGilvray

The Programming

We showed a lot of great art this year. Exhibitions at the Main St Gallery focused on photography: I curated Elijah Barrett’s Rockport, an examination of the impact of our changing climate on communities along the Texas coast; and then Elijah curated Cristina Velásquez’s New World, a consideration of agricultural labor in her native Columbia.

Hollie Brown took the lead in curating the Masur Gallery, building-up a semi-permanent display reflective of her strong aesthetic sensibility. The exhibit consists of sculptures and video installations by Jennifer Moore, sculptures and paintings by Miranda Terry, and ceramics by Raj Sukamoto. At the end of the year Hollie was joined by Michael Villarreal in presenting a show of work by their students at Texas State University.

Also at Masur, artists Andrea Wallace and Sam Thompson collaborated in transforming a back room into the Drag Nest, an intimate installation featuring their photography and painting. And we featured performances by Vestite (nee Hentaii), Onix Rodriguez, and Wren Wild.

Michael Villarreal stands at a table in his art studio and speaks to a group.
Photo by Jacqueline Saragoza McGilvray

The Studio

Our biggest development of the year was in the creation of art, as the Main St building became full-up with studios. Photographer Andrea Wallace and painter Marie Tobola, who set-up studios last year, were joined by mixed-media artists Michael Villarreal and Lisa Guevara, and painter Sam Thompson. Hollie Brown moved over from her perch at Masur. Most recently photographer Laurel Coyle and the aforementioned Jennifer Moore set-up shop.

In the summer we had a small coming out in the form of a studio group show, which was followed in the fall by a field trip of visitors from San Antonio organized by Blue Star Contemporary, which featured a meal by Jon West (aka The Good Pot).

A clipboard with an audience survey paper.

Audience Research

This year we made our first foray into on-site audience evaluation. I had previous experience with online research, via the National Museum Website Visitor Motivation Survey project, and knew how powerful it could be. I was excited to give the traditional clipboard-and-pen method a try, and worked with Sam Thompson and Lisa Guevara to design a simple four-question survey. We conducted our research throughout our busy fall season.

We learned that we welcomed more than 400 guests over the three-month survey period, 56% at Main St and 44% at Masur. We learned that 56% of guests were first-time visitors and 44% return visitors; and that 58% live in Lockhart and 13% live in Austin. I was surprised that only about 1% of surveyed guests live in San Marcos, the neighboring city that is home of Texas State University and a vibrant arts scene — there’s potential for growth there.

Additionally, we categorized guests according to a framework of museum visitor motivation inspired by the one presented by researcher John Falk in his book Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience. We learned that, of surveyed guests, 50% were “Explorers,” 21% were “Professionals” (we counted artists towards this number) and 20% were “Socializers.” The remainder were split between “Parents” and “Rechargers.”

Now Accepting Tax-Deductible Donations

Last but not least, we were accepted into the fiscal sponsorship program of NY-based arts nonprofit Fractured Atlas. This means that we can now accept tax-deductible donations. Your support helps us continue to incubate the cultural community in rural Texas in 2020. Please donate now.

Posted December 2019

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