Texas Independence Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Art and Craft

Sculpture of cowboy on a horse
Museum of Western Art, Kerrville


Texas artists have always been an independently-minded group, getting together and exhibiting their work long before museums or other official venues appeared. The San Antonio Art League grew out of a local artists’ group whose first organized exhibition opened in 1894. In fact, the turn of the 19th century saw art leagues and community art associations begin to appear throughout the state.

Unlike Europe and major cities elsewhere in the nation where artists had already achieved status as an integral component of culture and society, Texas artists were subjected to a southern attitude still predominantly rural and agrarian in the first decade of the new century. But that would quickly change and, today, museums and institutions across the state now archive collections considered some of the best in the world. The Rothko Chapel in Houston, the John Chamberlain sculptures at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, and the Dallas Museum of Art with its stellar collection of early Texas art represent just a few of the institutions known throughout the art world.

But fine art and craft is not limited to a picture hanging on a wall or a sculpture resting on a pedestal. Art casts a far wider net. It’s reflected in the cultural distinctions that make our identity as Texans both global and unique. Institutions like the Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures in Corpus Christi, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Praha—one of the state’s "Painted Churches," and the Texas Quilt Museum in LaGrange all project the definition of art and creativity far beyond its traditional definition.

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Read more about folk arts and crafts in the Handbook of Texas Online.