Category Archives: Arts

Downtown Brownsville Comes Alive

A conjunto trio plays in one of the new music venue in the downtown area. (VBR)

For many years, downtown Brownsville looked like a ghost town, particularly during evening hours. The only exception was an H-E-B supermarket on East Elizabeth Street. Here, shoppers from south of the border stopped by to buy goods before going across the Rio Grande into Matamoros. After a group of concerned citizens began looking into how to revive the city’s oldest business district several years ago, the area started coming alive. New…

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UTRGV Documentary Earns Telly Award

"And Then the Soldiers Were Gone" Telly Award-winning crew

UTRGV’s Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools has won a Bronze Telly Award for its documentary “And Then the Soldiers Were Gone.” The winning documentary focuses on the history of Fort Ringgold, the former military base in Rio Grande City turned school, through stories from the residents. Nick Taylor made the submission to the Telly Awards. He was in shock upon receiving the email that the film had won a Telly, he said. “This documentary…

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Festival to Celebrate Cultural Influences

Mexican performers from Oaxaca will entertain festival crowds with traditional dances. (Courtesy)

An ambitious five-day festival coming to McAllen in July will celebrate the past, present and future of Latino culture and its influence on the Rio Grande Valley. “We see the need to create a destination festival in the summer,” said Luis Cantu, vice president for international business and community development with the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. “It’s kind of a compilation of a lot of events we have done, but…

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San Benito Culture on Display

Museum patrons view an exhibit of historical photographs depicting the history of San Benito. (Courtesy)

Every city has a story to tell and San Benito, with the new San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum, is now better able to tell it while also attracting traveling exhibits that can bring new insights to the city. The 7,000-foot-square museum opened in November 2018 and has already featured photo and artistic elements highlighting border life and culture. Luis Contreras II, the city’s cultural arts director, says those exhibits are…

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Local Arts Boosted With Mission Arts Festival

It was months in the making and took a community-wide collaboration, but after a busy Saturday on April 27, the organizers of the 2019 Mission Arts Festival look back on the event with delight. “We’re incredibly happy with the turnout in the community,” said Ariel King, the owner of the Historic William Jennings Bryan House. King also led the efforts for the first annual arts festival. “It’s all about networking…

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Curtain Call for Old Theater

Weslaco’s iconic concrete water tower rises above the original ground water storage building that now serves as a community theater. (VBR)

There was a time that the round, domed building with 12-inch-thick concrete walls stored much of Weslaco’s water supply. But for almost half a century, the historic structure has served as a community theater. Now, following a renovation with the help of the Weslaco Economic Development Corporation, the Tower Theater has a new lease on life. Constructed in 1928, the ground-level water storage facility was replaced in 1941 by the…

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Selling the Love of Music

Matt Perez and his wife, Debra, operate Valley Keyboards in McAllen with a passion for music. (VBR)

A lifelong devotion to the love of music drives the success of a Rio Grande Valley business that has shared that passion for more than four decades. “Everything we do and continue to do flows from our love and passion for music and music education,” said Matt Perez, president and chief executive officer of Valley Keyboards of McAllen. His wife, Debra, manages the education department of the company, which is…

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Artist Creates Business Niche

A photo of a heron and reflections in the water after being processed by artist Elisa Baker using special software. (VBR)

Inspired by a lifelong love of photography, and using creative computer software designed by her husband, Elisa Baker has embarked on a path to turn her personal passion into a business venture. Baker concentrates her photography on capturing images of Rio Grande Valley flora and fauna. Her husband developed the software that processes photos to create a sfumato effect. A style of painting associated with Italian Renaissance artists like Leonardo…

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Designing Iconic Texas Art

Ida Rodriguez holds a work in progress, a decorated steer skull, in her South Texas Longhorns studio. (VBR)

With a dream of becoming a fashion designer, Ida Rodriguez started out designing and sewing her own clothes. Growing up in the Rio Grande Valley town of Alton, she was one of a family of seven with a father who was the sole provider, and a strict patriarch. In her early 20s she had an opportunity to attend fashion design school in Dallas, but her father said no; she needed…

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