STAYcation — A short ride to great art: Art Museum of SE TX host variety of exhibits

Published 7:01 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018

High gasoline prices and an economy still struggling to fully reboot means that Greater Port Arthur people may enjoy “staycations” this summer, reveling in the tourism sites within easy driving distance. The News will highlight some of these this summer, places we’d all do well to visit.

BEAUMONT — To see good art, Southeast Texans don’t need to travel far.

The Art Museum of Southeast Texas hosts a wide variety of exhibits within its modern deco building located on Main Street in downtown Beaumont.

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The museum provides visitors with unique collections, exhibitions, public programs and outreach in the visual arts.

Public relations coordinator Courtney George said the museum receives just over 3,000 visitors a month, on average. That number reaches between 35,000 and 40,000 visitors a year.

“We may do better because we always have new things to show,” George said. “Other museums in the area kind of do the same thing. If you’re going there, you’re seeing what’s already there.

“Here, we have artwork that we’re rotating out quarterly. We’re always rotating out our permanent exhibits.”


“We really do have impressive artists and artwork coming through here,” George said.

AMSET hosts regular galleries of both established and up-and-coming artists’ works. Houston artist Richard Stout’s work has been one of the museum’s most recent, notable exhibits.

“In September on view through the beginning of December, we had ‘Sense of Home: The Art of Richard Stout’,” George said. “That was really big as far as media goes. Houston outlets picked up on it… They wanted to do interviews with the shows and the artists. It was really a big deal.”

As for local artists, AMSET has a special space for them to display their works and to pick up some more renown.

“We actually have a local exhibition: Café Arts. Artists who are interested, we will hang up a series of artwork where they put together their own exhibit,” George said.

The latest artist to have her work featured is Amy Morris, a Lamar University alumnus. Her exhibit, “Submerged,” is a multi-piece, encaustic wax assemblage that was directly inspired by Tropical Storm and Hurricane Harvey.

“Her series is over the devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey. It uses debris from Harvey,” George said. “She’s created this collection of trash and turned it into cool artwork.”

George said Café Arts provides a way to raise awareness for local artists.

“We want to give a chance to our local artists. It’s not an exhibition per se, but it is a venue for their art.”

Reaching the

George said AMSET was very active in its outreach within the community.

“Oh, yes. We have a lot,” she said. “We have Free Family Arts Day. It’s a free event four times a year, once every season. They correlate with the current exhibition.”

The event involves hands-on activities and crafts for kids.

“They’re inspired by whatever show is going on in the main gallery. We also have live entertainment and give away art supplies.” George said. “There’s food, music and it’s a really good time.”

AMSET also offers Art-To-Go, a mobile outreach program intended to give art education to remote and under-served communities.

George said schools, libraries and other community centers would call them and set up programs “to bring the museum to them.”

The outreach coordinator will have art activities available for participants. Activities reach schools, community centers, day-care centers and retirement homes. Museum members or volunteers visit later.

“We’ll bring kids who would normally be home. We’ll bus them from schools to the museum and give them art classes,” George said.

Art-To-Go services an area 80 miles around AMSET’s location in Beaumont.

“As far as encouraging future artists, we have Protégé,” George said. “We’ll send letters to all the seniors in the area. We’ll have an art competition where they can submit their artwork.”

Artist Ellen Tanner was the judge last year.

“She chose a series of artwork — and it could be a range from 10 to 30 pieces of art,” George said. “We’ll put on a gallery as the spot where seniors’ works would be shown.”

AMSET gives away art scholarships for first, second and third places.

AMSET also hosts its summer art camp, Summer ArtVentures, where kids ages 5 to 14 could choose from a variety of intensive art education shops.

“Kids take classes from professional artists,” George said.

Current exhibitions

“Right now we have two exhibitions going through Sep. 2,” George said. “These two exhibits feature artwork donated to the museum.”

“Paraíso y Presa” translates into “Paradise and Prey” from Spanish. It is a recent donation from John Gaston Fairey’s collection of Mexican Folk Art.

Imagery is drawn from subjects like the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, the devil and other flora and beasts.

“They chose us because of our community outreach and education programming,” George said. “We’re just flattered.”

The exhibit features 160 pieces in one of the museum’s main galleries.

“FRESH: The James Kralik Collection” is an exhibit of 16 pieces from the collector and patron of the arts.

“We have fundraisers. We are a nonprofit,” George said.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. It is closed for major holidays.

Admission is free, but donations are always welcome. For more information, call AMSET at 409-832-3432 or email at: