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Heart of Art in Downtown Tyler

Written and Photographed By Barbara King

There’s a lot going on in downtown Tyler these days, especially in the arts community. Gallery Main Street is part of the exciting revitalization of downtown that showcases the talented and creativity of local artists.

gallerymainstreet2The gallery, on the downtown square at 110 West Erwin is operated by the City of Tyler and is the cornerstone of the downtown business, arts and culture district. The renovated space, which opened in August 2009, is home to specialized, juried fine art exhibits featuring mainly local artists.

Exhibitions of original works rotate approximately every eight weeks, so the pieces and themes are ever changing. The current exhibition, “Movements of the Mind” runs through November 3rd and is free of charge for the public to view. This diverse exhibit is comprised of thirty unique pieces, representing seventeen individual artists. Some of the works include collage, multi-media and even a carved alabaster sculpture, entitled “Philosopher.” Featured titles also include “Into the “Deep,” “Snazzy,” “Transcendence of Memory” and “Survival of the Meek.”

The Gallery is extending a very special invitation to Veterans who are also artists to take part in the next exhibit, entitled “Against All Odds.” This exhibit will have its kickoff public reception, Saturday November 8th in conjunction with a Veteran’s Day commemorative ceremony on the square.

Beverly Abell, Main Street Department Leader, says the “juried selection process levels the playing field for artists, with every exhibition featuring a variety of different mediums.” Every entry is judged anonymously by a panel of accomplished artists and art instructors who choose final pieces for display. “This ensures each exhibit is as inclusive as possible,” explains Abell. “This also makes for an exciting mix of talent. You could conceivably view a piece of art submitted by a novice next to an established artist who has sold numerous pieces.” Each artist can submit up to three pieces digitally, with a standard entry fee of $20.

gallerymainstreet4Top scoring pieces are selected for exhibition, with the highest scoring winning Best of Show. Approximately 30-40% of the entered pieces are chosen to be part of an exhibit. Artwork is priced by the artist and available for purchase at the exhibit, with the artist receiving 80% of the sale and 20% going back to the Gallery. Artists interested in entering pieces can find prospectus rules on the website at

“Most people don’t realize that even though the Gallery is operated by the City of Tyler, we raise the majority of the operating budget,” explains Abell. Every piece that is purchased at an exhibit helps to support and promote our local arts community.”

Every new exhibit is an event, with an opening night reception featuring live music, food and an opportunity to meet the artists. “The evening reflects the growth of the art scene in Tyler, and attracts a very eclectic group of folks that embrace creativity and expression,” says Abell.

The Gallery is also home to the very successful 6×6@110 exhibit, featuring small canvases full of color and motion that line the walls of the gallery. The Tyler community embraced the idea, and garnered the Gallery the prestigious Texas Downtown Association’s Best Promotional Event award. The mini canvases are distributed to local artists who return their works back to the gallery for sale to patrons at $20 each. This fun and creative exhibit will return to the Gallery in 2015, beginning June 6th.

gallerymainstreet3Driving around downtown you might spot some unusual sculptures, part of the OPAL project (Outdoor Public Art on Loan). Five pieces were selected for display for a year, chosen by artists, architects and landscape architects. The pieces were chosen for their artistic excellence as well as their compatibility with the landscape and architecture of the downtown area. These unusual pieces can be seen at locations including the Tyler Public Library and the T.B. Butler Plaza.

True art lovers can even rent the space for special events. The Gallery has hosted corporate meetings, parties, and even weddings. It is a perfect space for small to medium sized receptions and ceremonies for those looking for a truly unique venue. The space includes a conference room, kitchen and the actual gallery.

Gallery Main Street is free to the public and operating hours are Monday –Wednesday 10am-5pm, Thursday and Friday 10am-6pm, and Saturday 12-4pm. If those times don’t fit your schedule Abell says “call us at the Gallery at (903)593-6905 and we will open by appointment.”

To find out more about upcoming exhibits and special workshops go to, on Facebook at Heart O. Tyler and Twitter and Instagram at downtowntyler.



Call for Entries: Art of Peace Tyler Visual Art Exhibit

Entries are now being accepted for the “Sowing Seeds of Peace” Visual Art Exhibit as part of the Art of Peace – Tyler celebration, a citywide commemoration of the United Nations International Day of Peace, September 21st.

“Art of Peace – Tyler is happy to once again to partner with the Tyler Museum of Art to invite regional artists to offer their creative responses to the idea of peace and to our 2018 theme, ‘Sowing Seeds of Peace’,” said Anne McCrady, co-founder and co-director of the peace event.

The visual art show will be presented as a juried exhibit in the museum’s education classroom September 16th-23rd, at the Tyler Museum of Art, 1300 S. Mahon Ave, on the Tyler Junior College main campus. The exhibit will be open to the public and admission is free.

The jury for selection will consist of members of the Art of Peace – Tyler committee and TMA representatives. The jury has the option to select up to two works per artist for inclusion in the show. Past exhibits have included the work of artists from Austin, Dallas, Lubbock and the East Texas area.

“We are privileged that the Art of Peace – Tyler committee once again has asked us to be the host venue for this exhibition,” TMA Executive Director Chris Leahy said. “The work we have seen over the past four years of our partnership has grown increasingly more dynamic and accomplished, and we are proud to have the opportunity to participate in such a great community event.”  

For more information about Art of Peace – Tyler events, visit For questions about the art exhibition, e-mail

Sunday, September 23rd, there will be an Artist reception at 3pm.

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David Bates: Works from Texas Collections on Exhibit

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The Tyler Museum of Art (TMA) is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave. on the Tyler Junior College main campus. Regular TMA hours are 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday, and 1-5pm Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays and most major holidays. The Museum is supported by its members, Tyler Junior College, and the City of Tyler. For more info call the museum at (903)595-1001,, or email

David Bates, one of the most acclaimed artists in Dallas, is the focus of Tyler Museum of Art’s summer exhibition, “David Bates: Selected Works from Texas Collections” on view through September 9th.

Curated by the museum’s Caleb Bell, the exhibition features close to 30 works surveying the prolific career of Bates, one of the most versatile and widely collected contemporary Texas artists. Spanning art from 1982 to 2016 works in the show highlight several of Bates’ most celebrated series and include a wide array of media: oil painting, lithographs, woodcuts, screenprints and bronze sculpture. The show was assembled from art in public and private collections throughout the state, including the museum’s own permanent collection. Bates’ work is widely exhibited and included in several museum and corporate art collections.

Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors. Museum members, students, TJC faculty/staff and city of Tyler employees are admitted free. Support for exhibit is provided by The Byars Foundation.

Family Days

Free admission, interactive art projects, light snacks and a festive atmosphere for all ages are on the menu from 2-4pm the second Saturday of each month with the Tyler Museum of Art’s Family Day. This popular program focuses on fostering a deeper understanding of the Museum’s spotlight exhibitions – and, above all, having fun! To RSVP for groups of 10 or more, please call (903)595-1001 or e-mail

First Friday

The first Friday of each month, the TMA offers a full day of free admission plus guided tours of its spotlight exhibitions at 11am. From contemporary Texas art to Hudson River School to Andy Warhol, each tour is unique.

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Around East Texas

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Dedicated Young Warriors

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The Art and Illustrations of Micah Lewis

By Derrick White

“I continually push myself to try a new medium or style, or just simply work harder with what I’ve got. I’ve grown to love studies in my sketchbooks and understand the importance of slowing down for a bit and working out the kinks or just wrapping my mind around how to draw something,” states local artist Micah Lewis. In my career as an art professor at TJC, I work with many students who aspire to become professional artists. After decades of instructing, I have found the most important qualities in making the dream of living as a professional artist come true are dedication and perseverance. Those who are truly dedicated to their art and process will succeed and they persist through all setbacks.

Micah Lewis is one such devoted artist living and working from the red brick streets in downtown Tyler. My first introduction to Micah was through a Facebook page coordinating Free Art Fridays encouraging participants to place or seek hidden art in downtown Tyler and beyond. We have connected through social media, and I have had the pleasure of meeting her in real life at local establishments. Through her posts and comments one can conclude she is a fun, determined, dedicated, persistent and successful artist. In addition to being a professional artist, Micah is also a committed wife and mother. Her web site describes Micah as, “a self-taught artist who finds beauty in all of God’s creation, particularly in people… and coffee. Having a heart for creativity from a young age, she draws inspiration from tattoo art, comic books, or old Godzilla movies. Additionally, she has a peculiar knack for portraits where she can capture the natural emotion present in each subject.”

My formal training was limited to half a semester of art during my sophomore year of high school. Somehow, I ended up in a class full of students just attempting to fill a credit. It was a disruptive environment in which the other students regularly sabotaged my projects. So, my path has been one of self-learning with trial and error,” says Lewis. Micah’s art is influenced by comic book art and executed through her unique surrealist lens. She considers her style of art lowbrow and also enjoys painting watercolor portraits. She states, “Four years ago, if someone told me I would love watercolor and use it almost daily, I would not have believed it. I used to loathe watercolor. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of control. It just wasn’t as smooth as I like. When I revisited the concept after a few years I fell in love. I really and truly enjoy creating with watercolor. In achieving a variety of line weights, I use a Pentel pocket brush pen (typically used for calligraphy). I love the contrast inking gives my pieces. It pulls the soft washes together with bolder, inconsistent lines.”

Like many artists, Micah can trace her inspiration back to childhood. “It’s difficult to pinpoint. The earliest drawings I recall were on the inside cover of the coloring books my sisters and I had. Coloring a picture felt like more of a chore to me. So, I just drew my own pictures on the blank inner covers. Sorry, Lisa Frank! When I got a bit older, I kept a sketchbook. It just became a part of who I am. It is shocking to me I became a professional artist. It still baffles me. I remember telling people I wanted to be an artist when I grew up as early as first grade, and maybe I was just too stubborn to not make it happen,” states the artist.

For Micah, dedication and perseverance in her art means growth. She explains, “I can always learn, study, and work towards improvement. Finding a voice is difficult; especially given the understanding your audience may never quite comprehend the images in your mind and the emotions accompanying those images. I think it is pretty easy to pander to your audience with the pressure for success but creating, for me, was never meant to be superficial. The intent of art is communication, and communication on a deep level of who we are and the emotions driving us as people. Art should be a connection, but not a cheap one. I still have to remind myself of this from time to time and just strive to be authentic.”

Micah Lewis finds inspiration in the work of other artists, citing one of her favorites is Berlinde de Bruyckere (a Belgian contemporary artist sculpting unsettling forms in various media including wax, wood, wool, horse skin and hair. She also works in watercolor). “I hope one day I have the opportunity to meet her or just experience one of her installations in person. Her ability to sculpt with wax, wood, and natural fibers is pure wizardry and you’ll never convince me otherwise. I have a copy of her book, “In the Woods There Were Chainsaws.” The pages are yellowed and warped and the spine has a gash in it, but it’s only because I’ve loved it so dang much. I draw so much inspiration from her dedication to detail,” exclaims Lewis.

Micah’s life and art career are very busy with multiple upcoming projects. “This summer, I will be working on a few murals around Tyler, one for Strada Caffè and I am also working on a few murals at True Vine Brewing Company in their new location (2453 Earl Campbell Pkwy) and later this year, I’m excited to curate my first show for The Foundry Coffee House in downtown Tyler. Submissions will start in November and the show will open in January. I’m excited to meet new artists and take on this new role. Interested artists should follow the Foundry Coffee House’s Facebook page for more information as it becomes available. Locally, you can find Micah’s original artworks and prints available for purchase at El Guapo Records, Strada Caffè, The Foundry, and Moss just to name a few local love friendly places.

You can follow the art, projects and progress of Micah Lewis at:

Commission or collaboration requests can be filled out via the contact form on Micah Lewis’ web site. I recommend you commit yourself to looking through and purchasing some of these dedicated young warrior’s creations for your very own.



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