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Community Highlights: Meet Gerald Kurten of San Marcos Art Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gerald Kurten.

Hi Gerald, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
The San Marcos Art Center was a long-term vision of the San Marcos Art League to further its mission to encourage, foster, promote and nurture the arts in the San Marcos Community.

The Art League’s 10-year experience of hosting the second Saturday Art Squared Market was enhanced by finding a downtown location to showcase the art of local San Marcos artists.

Its first year was a real challenge with the onset of the pandemic, but through careful fiscal management, a high level of volunteerism from its members, and the support of the San Marcos Arts Commission, the San Marcos Art Center has become a symbol of the creativity, adaptability, and determination of the San Marcos Arts Community.

The Art Center displays an eclectic collection of the works of local artists and craftspeople. It is staffed by participating artists who enjoy sharing their experience and enthusiasm for arts and culture in San Marcos.

It’s not unusual for visitors to stop in and become engaged in discussions with local artists about their hopes and visions for arts and culture and share their experience of the work and life of the community.

The Art Center is not a typical art gallery, but an example of what a determined arts community can achieve through volunteerism, vision, and determination.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Creating and sustaining an art gallery in a community experiencing the challenges of rapid growth, low average annual income, in a location of high vacancy rates, the business challenges of the Covid pandemic, and limited past success of commercial art endeavors has been no easy feat.

However, volunteerism, careful use of grant funding, and dedicated leadership have demonstrated what a determined art community can achieve. In spite of several months of closure at the onset of the pandemic, the determination of the community has prevailed and resulted in numerous exhibitions by community non-profits and individual artists.

An example of this is the recent city-wide collaborative exhibition of the works of the internationally recognized, local native, Bill Hutson. The San Marcos Art League and the San Marcos Art Center were pivotal in supporting and managing this community collaboration also involving the Calaboose African American History Museum, the Walkers Gallery, Texas State University, and the Price Center.

The exhibition not only established a greater level of the local partnership but also showcased the power of local grass-roots efforts to kick start community pride and empowerment after the severe downturn in community spirit following the onset of the pandemic.

As you know, we’re big fans of San Marcos Art Center. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Many of the volunteer members of the San Marcos Art Center share the values, experiences, and challenges of the San Marcos Art League’s current president, Gerald Kurten. After retiring from a shortened career as an aquatic biologist to care for his partner who was lost to ALS, he found a welcoming place of community, home, and self-expression.

This is the essence of the Art Center. It’s not just a place to display and sell art, but a space for engagement. shared vision and hope for the entire community. It’s a place to overcome the obstacles of life and dive into the hope and vision of overcoming these challenges.

The San Marcos Art Center is not just an eclectic mix of art, but an eclectic mix of personality, opinion, and vision that has congealed to illustrate that Art presents an opportunity to build community, compassion, and cooperation.

The greatest value of visiting the San Marcos Art Center may not be just that perfect local Art ‘find’ to give brother or sister or aunt or uncle or adorn your home, but an opportunity to ask its local artist volunteers “show me your work… tell me what you do”.

It’s a vastly more fulfilling and rewarding and intimate art experience than the typical art gallery or museum.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
The San Marcos Art Center is staffed by its member artist. Each visit provides the opportunity to learn about a practicing artist and what motivates their work.

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