San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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September 13th, 2010
Commentary: Fill Hays County’s arts venues


At this time of year, I feel like a theater director on opening night. As the new president of Friends of Fine Arts, like that theater director, I am surrounded by a wonderfully talented cast and inspired by a great script. Everyone is well-rehearsed. The sets look glorious.

Indeed, it feels like opening night. Queue the music. Raise the curtain.

Fortunately, I am not a theater director. However, it is my joy to direct an organization whose board and membership boost productions, performances and exhibitions.

I don’t build the sets, plan the lighting and effects or hang the art shows. However, I do get to help build the audiences. In fact, the Friends of Fine Arts audience has swelled to nearly 500 members in San Marcos, Kyle and the rest of Hays County.

Why do these wonderful patrons become members and fill theaters, music venues and galleries? Visit, our new website, for a glimpse into another magical arts season — a splash of culture for Central Texas and the Hill Country. If you have any questions about the Friends of Fine Arts or the cultural events at Texas State, please call (512) 245-3501 or contact Liz McDonald at

The 2010-2011 season presents another stellar season for the arts. Kaitlin Hopkins, who broke in at Texas State last year with the brilliant “Bat Boy,” shakes, rattles and rolls this year by directing “All Shook Up,” Songs by Elvis Presley. The work, choreographed by Robin Lewis, plays at the Main Stage from Nov. 10 to Nov. 21.

You won’t have to wait till November for top performances. Consider attending:

  • “Opening Door Dance Theater, Sept. 23 and 24 in Evans Auditorium;
  • “Reasons to be Pretty” by Neil LaBute and directed by Laura Garza in the Studio Theatre, Sept. 29 to Oct. 3;
  • “Electra” by Sophocles, adapted by Frank McGuinness and directed by Michael Costello on the Main Stage, Oct. 5-10;
  • “The History Boys” by Alan Bennett and directed by Katie Knapek in the Studio Theatre, Oct. 27-Oct. 31.

This year’s Encore Series begins Oct. 12 at Glade Outdoor Theatre and focuses on the Stars of Texas Music: Randy Rogers, Walt and Tina Wilkins; The Trishas and, in the opening act, Kathleen O’Keefe.

Add some spice in your fall from 8 p.m. to midnight on Sept. 24 as the School of Music presents Salsa Night, featuring Texas State Salsa Ensembles. This event will be held at George’s on the first floor of the LBJ Student Center. Among the student performances in the fall or showcaes in an evening titled “Somos Musicos!” which takes place Oct. 7 in the Music Building recital hall.

This year marks the 200th birthday of composer Robert Schumann. To commemorate this milestone, Texas State pianists perform music by Schumann at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 and Oct. 15 in Evans Auditorium.

The Guest Artist series welcomes Kithara Duo, guitarists Fernand and Olga Amelkina-Vera. They have performed at numerous festivals. Olga is an award-winning composer and guitarist who grew up in Belarus and came to the United States in 1997.

Galleries will be filled with visually tantalizing work such as the exhibit beginning Oct. 26 with works by sculptor Mark Schatz.

This year offers extraordinary drama. Not just because of the 10-day FOFA trip to Greece in May, which by the way is already sold out, not simply because of the Patti Strickel Harrison Foundation-supported performing arts center, whose design will be unveiled in the coming year. The year promises to be most dramatic because Dean Richard Cheatham is retiring at the end of the academic year after 26 groundbreaking, earth-moving, monumental years as dean of the College of Fine Arts.

This great arts season and all future cultural endeavors in the future will bear his mark. I invite everyone in the community to salute Dr. Cheatham and the rich cultural heritage in the Hill Country by joining me in the Friends of Fine Arts audience.

On with the show.

San Marcos businessman Gary W. Aalen is president of the Friends of Fine Arts.

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