Cenizo Journal Fall 2023 | Page 5

Celebrating 30 Years of Artwalk Alpine

By Danielle
Crusing Crickets by Tom Curry
In 1994 , a small group of artists and galleries got together to host “ Gallery Night ,” an event that would prove to be the forebear to Artwalk Alpine , one of the Big Bend region ’ s most storied cultural traditions .
The overarching purpose of Artwalk is to support the arts throughout the region . Far from being merely a two-day event , Artwalk gives $ 1,000 a year to Sul Ross State University for art scholarships . The 501 ( c ) 3 organization that underwrites the event , Alpine ’ s Gallery Night , Inc ., has donated $ 12,000 to area schools for art programs . The silent auction , held every year , donates funds to the Alpine Public Library . Comprising donated works from exhibiting artists , the auction is the library ’ s largest annual fundraiser .
After 20 years of celebrating Artwalk , the organization gifted Alpine a series of downtown murals celebrating the region ’ s Hispanic heritage . Stylle Reed , whose murals can be seen throughout the Big Bend , designed and executed the works with the help of local artists . A decade later , Alpine is peppered with murals down its streets and alleys , showcasing the work of dozens of artists , giving us all a reason to pause and consider our surroundings on nearly every corner .
Each year , Artwalk features a local artist . This year , it ’ s Tom Curry . Tom and Susan Curry moved to Alpine just a year before Gallery Night began in 1994 . They ’ ve participated in every Gallery Night and Artwalk since .
The first year , they displayed Tom ’ s work in their home on Sul Ross avenue . Tom helped promote the event in the old Alpine Observer with a cartoon depicting the hardware store , reimagined as a fictional Joe ’ s Tire Shop . The
cartoon depicted a clerk hanging a tire from a rope in the window – his own little work of art . A few years later , a local artist recreated the cartoon in an empty shop window downtown .
Artwalk is held on the weekend before Thanksgiving , so it ’ s subject to the vagaries of West Texas weather . Susan remembers years when ice storms and howling winds made walking the streets impossible . For Artwalk 2022 , the biting cold wasn ’ t much of a deterrent to the crowds , who huddled around barrel fires at venues and on the sidewalks or danced to keep warm .
This will be the second time Tom Curry has been the featured artist for Artwalk . The first was 2008 . Born and raised in Coleman , Texas , a small town near Abilene , he graduated from the University of North Texas in 1969 . After a stint in the Army stationed in Stuttgart , Germany , he traveled extensively in Europe before returning home to Texas . When he moved to Austin from Dallas in 1975 , he paid $ 50 a month for studio space around 6th and Congress . He started his artistic life as an illustrator .
In those days , illustrators weren ’ t considered artists . “ I used to go to art openings in Austin ,” he remembers . “ They ’ d tell me , ‘ You ’ re not an artist , you ’ re just an illustrator .’” That perception has changed somewhat in recent years ; commercial artists have been more widely recognized for their abilities , and illustrators have become generally more coveted .
In the beginning , he shared studio space with several other illustrators and graphic designers . Texas Monthly was a new magazine , and he began doing illustrations for them .
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Cenizo Fall 2023