It’s the 20th Annual Celebration of the Parade of Artists!
Jay Hester, moved to Boerne in 1988 as an established artist from Santa Fe, New Mexico via Lubbock, Texas. Early on, he opened his first studio/gallery near Boerne's Main Plaza before moving to the historic Kaiser House on South Main Street. and then opening his Highland House Gallery on East Highland Street. Renowned for his paintings and bronze sculptures, Jay has been a leader in the Boerne art community for almost thirty years and has been intimately involved in its growth and development.
We recently caught up with Jay as he was leaving a meeting of current leaders of Boerne Professional Artists (BPA) and asked him about Boerne's "Art Scene" and especially about the upcoming 'Parade of Artists' event.
BPA: First of all, why did you decide to move to Boerne after your obvious successes in Santa Fe and Lubbock?
Hester: I decided I needed a change of venue for my art. Santa Fe and Lubbock were both fine markets for my paintings and sculptures, but I wanted to expand my opportunities and be more centrally located in Texas. I fell in love with the Hill Country and with Boerne in particular, and the decision was easy after that.
BPA: Tell us about the Boerne” Art Scene” you found on your arrival here in Boerne?
Hester: There were several artists around Boerne in the late 80's but nothing like now. I believe mine was the first gallery in town, and with the window on Main Street, my art received quite a bit of exposure and I got to know quite a few of the townsfolk. Then in 1992, the VFW commissioned me to do the bronze sculpture cap on the memorial obelisk in Veteran's Park.
BPA: Were you involved in the first “Parade of Artists”?
Hester: Yes, but it started off quite differently from what it has become now. To trace that history for you, Mr. Patrick Heath was Mayor of Boerne in the mid 90's and he went out of his way to encourage the arts in the local community. In about 1994 he asked if I would have a springtime Open House in my studio/gallery which at the time was in the historic Kaiser House on South Main Street.
We had quite a number of visitors that first year which got the attention of several other local artists and we spent the next several months organizing what we called the "Boerne Area Artists Association" which was the forerunner of Boerne Professional Artists (BPA). That new organization had roughly a dozen members and in 1996 we held what we called the "Studio Tour" which was just that… each participating artist held an open house at his or her studio and visitors would often drive several miles out of town to tour a studio and see the artist at work.
During those early years, the "Studio Tour" concept was quite successful, as was our new artists’ organization; and both grew as a result. Perhaps the unexpected consequences were the growing pains that came from the success of what had become our annual art event. Our visitors wanted to see more art and artistry than could be accomplished by the long trips between studios. Additional art galleries began to open in Boerne and the Area Art Association began to attract more members. New names for the event and the association were developed to keep up with the aura of a growing artistic community.
In the span of a very few years, Boerne Area Artists Association became Boerne Professional Artists with more than 50 active members, and our late 90's "Studio Tour" of 10 -12 artists' private studios grew into the annual "Parade of Artists" which this year will feature more than 75 local, regional and nationally recognized artists in the three established galleries and several business venues along the Hill Country Mile in the Arts & Design and Historic districts of downtown Boerne.
BPA: The arts have become a rather significant contributor to the city of Boerne in the last thirty years, so do you envision its continued growth?
Hester: Absolutely!! The Boerne Professional Artists organization (BPA) has grown to more than fifty members, some of whom are from the Coastal Bend region, Kerrville, Fredericksburg and Georgetown. Additionally, our annual fall fine art show and sale attracts artist participants from across the state and we have visitors and art lovers throughout the southwest. And now, in conjunction with the expanded efforts of our affiliate organization, the Hill Country Council for the Arts, we believe Boerne is truly becoming an arts destination. And, we believe that will only get better with time…
INTERVIEW ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE APRIL 2016 ISSUE OF EXPLORE MAGAZINE