Secluded getaways for artists often are associated with the East or West coasts. For nearly 20 years‚ however‚ professional artists have had a Hill Country haven‚ thanks to the Majestic Ranch Arts Foundation. The foundation‚ originally created to preserve the Majestic Theater in downtown San Antonio‚ set its sights on establishing an arts community on a 500-acre ranch in Boerne.
Initially reserved for artists and scholars visiting the area‚ the foundation opened the scenic property to area university students and‚ in 2006‚ to the entire community. Today‚ a variety of professional and hobbyist artists work amid breathtaking scenery and wildlife in an atmosphere that inspires creativity.
“We have high school kids to students in their 80s‚” Roxi McCloskey‚ the ranch’s executive director‚ says of the clientele. “It’s a real mix. Some have a degree in art and like the camaraderie. Others‚ beginners or Sunday painters‚ like to come and learn something new. Everyone learns a lot from each other.”
While most programs focus on the visual arts‚ McCloskey says the ranch eventually wants to include an assortment of artistic opportunities‚ including writing and theater. The first area of expansion is in music and will include concerts at the ranch’s hilltop pavilion.
In addition to classes and workshops‚ the ranch offers access to the studio.
“We have times when classes are not scheduled when students can work in‚ say‚ the darkroom‚” McCloskey says. “We also have field easels‚ so students can go out and paint in real life.”
The ranch organizes special events‚ such as lectures and exhibits‚ and many exhibited works‚ McCloskey says‚ are created on-site.
Central to the ranch’s desire to support the arts is the residency project‚ which provides housing for one week to four months.
“This is a place where professional artists can come and live in a retreat setting‚” McCloskey says‚ adding the housing has helped area universities recruit visiting artists.
The ranch’s faculty of professional artists includes experts in painting‚ photography and printmaking.
“Our staff brings a lot of different perspectives‚” McCloskey says. “We want faculty who are professional‚ well-trained artists who bring something new to the mix. We learn so much by being exposed to one another.”
In 2008‚ the center plans to offer summer programs for children and eventually offer children’s programming year-around.
“There’s beginning to be a more central effort to partic ipate in initiatives and put Boerne on the map as an arts destination‚” McCloskey says. “The arts contribute to what already is a really great quality of life.”