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Art on Elm Avenue Combines Art and Community For Its 6th Annual Festival

(Kristina Valdez/ KWBU Radio)
Doreen Ravenscroft on Elm Avenue in East Waco on April 5, 2019.

Elm Avenue in downtown Waco will be closed tomorrow to host the 6th annual Art on Elm Avenue Festival. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can create, buy and appreciate art in a variety of forms from artists of different ages and backgrounds - but this event is more about bringing the Waco community together. 




Art on Elm Avenue is challenging residents to ‘enjoy the art and stay awhile.’ Along with the art, the festival will host the second annual Tea Fest, a tour of the new Brotherwell Brewery and a morning workout with Train Waco.


Doreen Ravenscroft is the president of Cultural Arts of Waco.


"Festivals are meant to bring people together and for people to enjoy each other's company," Ravenscroft said. 


Ravenscroft began to bring the artistic community together for this event six years ago, taking over Elm Avenue with art, music and food for the day.  



"It’s a really fun, casual event," Ravenscroft said. "The street gets really busy around 6 a.m. People come measure the street, volunteers welcome artists and all of the sudden there is a flurry of tents and artists on Elm Avenue."


On the day of the festival, if you are turning on Elm Avenue from Martin Luther King Boulevard, you will notice a yellow barrier in the road. This is where about 15 artists, along with students ages K –12 from schools such as Rapoport Academy, Waco ISD and Midway, will showcase their art.  


"Everybody loves to see the traditional art, but they also love to see the contemporary art," Ravenscroft said. "They love some of our young folks and their art on painted shoes. It is just wonderful to be able to exhibit some youth art."


One of the artists who will be participating in the art festival is native Waco artist Ira Watkins.  


"I’m a successful broke artist," Watkins said. 



Credit Kristina Valdez
Artist Ira Watkins stands next to his sketch of the new Waco mural.

Watkins currently lives in San Francisco, California, but he was born in Waco in 1941. He has been creating and selling art for 40 years and he doesn’t care about the money—too much.  

"The biggest price of paying is the people that I meet," Watkins said. "I have walked through different doors and meet different people that I would not have if it wasn’t for this right here."


Watkins was the original artist of the Martin Luther King Jr. mural on the Interurban Railway bridge 10 years ago. He plans on bringing some of the original images of the mural to the festival. 


After Art on Elm, Watkins along with artist Chesley Smith will start a new mural on 11th street. The mural will feature important moments in Waco’s history—including the 1953 Waco tornado outbreak and when baseball legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gerig played in Katy Park in 1929.   


On the day of the festival, Watkins will be displaying six 34 x 42-inch pictures of musicians and instruments with the background cut out on wood.  


"I take pride in showing my work with what I call mainstream and artists who are emerging," Watkins said. "To me, art is art."


For Waco residents who visit Art on Elm this Saturday, they have a chance to decide for themselves what is art—and maybe get a little paint on their hands.