HISTORY: The Panhandle Art Center
Author, Mona Fannon, MBE; published in October 2010 in Style Magazine
The Panhandle Art Center began in 2001 when Ann Crouch offered the use of the space to promote visual arts in Amarillo. Ann wanted to provide a place for Amarillo and the surrounding area artists to show their work and have an opportunity to become a part of the art community. According to Martha Arnett, who has been a PAC member for ten years, “I have been here from the get, go.” Martha strives to share the beauty she sees in the world around her through her paintings. The subject matter of her paintings range from landscapes, still life’s animals, flowers to people. She paints with all mediums, but prefers oil above all others for its vitality of color and nature of expression. Martha has studied with Dalhart Winberg, Jack Sorenson, Celia Meadow, J. D. Keel, Ben Konis, Vickie Clark, Kay Houston, and Katherine Stephens. Martha Arnett indicated that the early years took members working together to make the dream come true, and they had to dedicate themselves to the cause. In the beginning, workshops were only offered through the Panhandle Art Center providing a source of income before the Amarillo Art Institute was started. “Word of mouth” brought many new members to the organization as it still does today.
“For the past ten years, volunteer artists and art supporters have met regularly to organize, renovate, and generally get us to the place we are today,” according to PAC President, Jenny Bailey. She has studied under several local art teachers and taught elementary art for Amarillo ISD. The Panhandle Art Center provides gallery space for 40-50 area artists. She indicated that the organization hosts numerous special events related to promoting visual arts. All these activities are managed by the volunteer organization of approximately 50 members. The PAC meetings are held on the last Monday of each month at 1:00 p.m. in the Auditorium. Drawings for gallery hanging space are held quarterly at the end of January, April, July, and October. Art work includes oil, pastels, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, ink, air brush, photography, fine art photography, jewelry, pottery, and original art and photo cards. Members represent Amarillo and surrounding towns such as Dalhart, Pampa, Borger, Fritch, Claredon, Bovina, Shamrock, Canyon, Hereford, Wheeler, Dumas, Perryton, Tulia, Happy, and Claude.
Membership ranges in age 24-93. Katherine Stephens, 93, still teaches art in Tulia and Amarillo, and loves to share her experience with the Panhandle Art Center. Another member, John Eder, indicated that he saw information about PAC in the newspaper, and came out to inquire where people could hang, and he joined that day. There was a judged show he entered that month, and entered his “Yellow Crane,” and received an honorable mention. John is a self-taught artist since 2007, and specializes in Chinese Brush Art. According to another member, Rachael Edwards, “There’s satisfaction that comes with a finished piece of work, joy within the process, and the desire to keep speaking on canvas is like breathing…it’s constant and necessary.”
One of PAC’s award-winning members, Kevin Costley, has held special shows in the Panhandle Art Center. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kevin was a military brat. If it were not for his world travels, and exposure to other cultures, Kevin would not be the artist he is today. “Understanding other cultures help bring out the best in us.” One of Costley’s recent accomplishments is being chosen to complete the cover illustration on the book called “Island Child,” a story of Barack Obama’s childhood through his 10th year. This book was available in Mid-October 2010.
Mona Fannon, VP Marketing, PAC, indicated that after her retirement in business and education, she is now enjoying showing her photography at the Panhandle Art Center. “A few years ago I visited there, trying to find the perfect place to show and sell my photography. One of their members was moving who was over the publicity for PAC. When they heard about my background, Jenny Bailey said, ‘Yes, we want you to join, and we have the perfect job for you.’” Fannon indicated that she has thoroughly enjoyed bringing her talents, education, and skills to the Panhandle Art Center. As she mentioned in the latest commercial for PAC, “You won’t want to leave Amarillo after your first visit to the Panhandle Art Center.”
The Panhandle Art Center organization invites artists from the Panhandle to place their artwork in the gallery for the following considerations:
- artist must be a member of the Panhandle Art Center (PAC). Dues are $30.00 per year payable upon applications.
- Pay monthly maintenance fee for hanging space. Spaces are chosen by a draw each quarter and artists are responsible for hanging and removing their work.
- Artist must work in the gallery two half days or one full day sessions per month.
- Regular membership (open to any artist, professional, or amateur, or patron of the Fine Arts over eighteen (18) years of age without regard to race, color, creed, or national origin. (Hanging or Displaying Working Membership, $30.00 yearly dues.)
- Special membership (Non-working Membership, $30.00 yearly dues.) This membership has all the privileges of the regular membership, renting rooms, voting, and attending meetings.
- Supporting membership: (Non-working and non-hanging members—Contributors of $50.00 or over.) These members receive invitations to social events, recognition in advertising, and name displayed in the lobby.
The Panhandle Art Center’s regular hours are 10-5 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday with free admission. One of the future goals of the Panhandle Art Center is to provide exposure not only in the Amarillo community, but throughout the globe. In the last few years, the organization has moved from word of mouth to various types of advertising to include newspaper, magazine, and recently television. Fannon shot a commercial for PAC to spread the word to the viewing area. She is currently working on coordinating the organization’s new web site so the word is spreading about the many opportunities and services provided by the organization. According to Fannon, “Take time to view the many exceptional talents of our artists—all under one roof—The Largest Gallery in Texas. All of the members are excited about the completion of the renovation of the building and are encouraging the Amarillo and surrounding communities to join us at the First Friday Art Walk. Not only will the beauty of the newly, renovated building take your breath away, but browse and see what we have to offer. PAC has paintings in all media and sizes, photographs, jewelry, sculpture, and pottery, artists’ group meetings, and gallery rooms for rent. Why settle for a “print” when you can have an “original?” Amarillo’s Panhandle Art Center is the place to be. We are encouraging the Borger and surrounding communities to join us during hours or at the First Friday Art Walk.