“By the power vested in me, I declare today and tomorrow the official Southwest Art Festival Weekend!,” Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra proclaimed Saturday to a small crowd of artists and guests.
The Southwest Art Festival, hosted by Endeavors Performing Arts & Special Events Venue, is celebrating the art of 15 separate artists.
The event is being hosted at Endeavors, 868 S. Fort Hood St in the Big Lots 440 Plaza.
Leading the festival was Vietnam Veteran Frank Frazier, an internationally recognized artist who was described by several artists at the event as “our mentor.”
Touring the booths, each artist was more than happy to speak about their particular style and reason for creating art.
“Creating art is so much more than just putting up pretty pictures,” artist Fanta Celah said. “Art heals us and empowers us and allows us to express ourselves.”
“This is about understanding everything around us, because it’s all connected,” artist Frederick Moore said.
Moore, or “217 artist” as he is professionally known, has experienced life in America, Spain, Europe and Peru, and seeks to distill that diverse array of knowledge and experience into his artwork.
Standing at the forefront of his work are his “mandalas,” burnt block prints, cut from wood. Moore’s explanation of his pieces was an outpouring of details, stopping only briefly as he took the time to point out dozens of symbols in his artwork.
Another artist, Conrad Hamilton, whose business cards were as elegant as his art, offered large, realistic paintings depicting a wide array of people and scenes.
Standing at the forefront of it all, however, was Frazier, a Vietnam veteran, whose art told a harsh story of race and loss, as well as strength and triumph.
“That piece there is made of boot polish,” Frazier said, pointing to a minimalist depiction of a bar counter.
On the right hand side of the piece was a folded Confederate flag labled “F.W. Woolworth,” and on the left was an American flag, turned upside down.
“When the ships are out at sea, they turn the flag upside down whenever they’re in trouble. That’s how we’ve been for a long time,” he said.
At around 1 p.m. Saturday, Segarra gave his thanks to the artists who made the event possible, giving a special nod to Frazier.
“What people don’t realize is, art can help solve crime … it empowers our youth,” he said. “You guys are the pioneers.”
Frazier was also asked to say a few words, and offered the following.
“I want to thank all the artists who came out. Power to the people, now go buy some art!” he said to a round of applause.
The festival will continue today , concluding at 6 p.m. The festival also features concerts with jazz and hip-hop artists, spoken word, and other activities.