ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Abilene Creative Arts Club is celebrating 90 years of existence in 2023 with an all-inclusive art show at the Center for Contemporary Arts. Artwork dating back to the 1930’s will be on display, as well as more recent work from members of the club.

Art comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures. For Abilene native and President of the Abilene Creative Arts Club Peggy Shepherd, she’s been dabbling in all of them her entire life.

“I did painting, I did enameling, collage and pottery,” Shepherd said.

She grew up loving art and found a passion in putting the brush on canvas. She also took lessons from famous local artists.

However, that love of art became a place of comfort for her when the unimaginable happened just five years ago.

Her son, Scott, died unexpectedly. Shepherd said he loved photography and had a unique eye, calling him and ‘up and comer.’

But her passion for art has helped her continue that bond with her son after his passing. She chose to pick up a camera and learn photography.

“For me, it was how do I keep his legacy alive,” Shepherd said.

She had never touched a camera before, but has now become her medium of choice, even though she still paints and sketches from time to time.

However, 90 years ago, photography and painting was not so common for the Abilene Creative Arts Club and wasn’t for years after. Vice President of the Abilene Creative Arts Club Liz Bogard explained what the club was like at the beginning.

“It was all women back then and would meet in their living rooms,” Bogard explained. “Most living rooms had a piano, and most people could play the piano, so they’d do that, drink tea and talk about business.” 

As the years passed on, the club began to evolve to include more paintings and lessons. This year, sculptures and photography were added during the 90th anniversary exhibition.

It’s an evolution and acceptance of new ideas and artistic freedoms that helped draw Margaret Davis to the club.

“It was a great group of people, they were warm and inviting, inclusive and they were fun to be with,” Davis expressed.

For Davis, she dabbled in painting early on in her life, but in her twenties, she gave it up to start her family and did not touch a paintbrush for 30 years.

“It didn’t matter what level of skill you had, you were welcome, instead of having to have some level of ability to be included,” Davis added.

That bode of confidence led Davis to trying new forms of art, like watercolors and her favorite, painting with oil. She loves painting portraits because of the personality each subject brings, and many who has painted before knows that perfecting a painting or drawing of a human is no easy task.

Last year, she entered a local art show and won the second-place prize for her portrait called ‘Joe,’ which featured a man wearing a large hat and his eyes covered in the shadow of the brim.

It was the inclusivity of the club that helped her find her stride in painting, as well as hone her skills in other areas of her artistic life. It’s also what she hopes will continue the club’s legacy for another 90 years through a younger generation.

The Abilene Creative Arts Club 90th anniversary exhibition will be on display from February 9 to March 25 on the second floor of the Center for Contemporary Arts.