As the oldest arts organization in San Marcos, the San Marcos Art League aims to promote the city’s eclectic art scene and its community of artists.

About the program

Memberships, donations and the support of the San Marcos Arts Commission fund the San Marcos Art League. It spearheads three main programs, said Nancy Brown, director of the San Marcos Art Center. Those include the art center, the Art Squared Arts Market and Art Scared in the fall.

The center provides artists a place to display and sell their work with monthly exhibitions. Brown said it’s important to support artists by having a place to exhibit and sell their pieces, especially when San Marcos has its unique art scene.

“I think the San Marcos environment itself is quite different than [Austin or San Antonio,]” she said. “The difference between the art scene in Austin and the art scene here is that it's accessible here. It's encouraging, it's welcoming.”

The Art Squared Arts Market takes place on the second Saturday of every month and runs from March to December. On these days, the Hays County Historic Courthouse grounds are filled with art and fine crafts, live music, live art demonstrations and more.

Art Scared allows local businesses and families to get involved with the Art League. Local children sign up to paint the windows of businesses around the square with fall and Halloween cartoons and illustrations.

The backstory

The San Marcos Art League was founded in the 1970s and received nonprofit status in 1983.

“They never had a brick-and-mortar place, but they offered workshops and get-togethers for artists,” said San Marcos Art League Treasurer Tracy Weinberg. “Then by the early 2000s, that had kind of faded. A lot of the people that had started it were aging out.”

The “rebirth” of the art league began around 2014. Earlier, in 2012, members of the San Marcos Arts Commission had started hosting an outdoor art market in a parking lot on the corner of East Hopkins Street and CM Allen Parkway called Art Unhitched.

In 2013, as the newly formed Art Squared Advisory Committee, market supporters and artists worked to move the event to the Hays County Historic Courthouse grounds. With the help of the San Marcos Art League’s lone surviving board member, the city’s art market became a program of the Art League in March 2014.

The San Marcos Art Center located on North Guadalupe Street opened in 2019. It has all been a part of revitalizing the Art League, Weinberg said.

“The art center [is] tied to the rebirth of the Art League, which was tied to the founding of Art Squared,” he said.

Moving forward

Brown said she would love to eventually find a bigger space for the San Marcos Art Center; where local and non-local artists make up an eclectic display of paintings, drawings, photographs, assemblages, felt pieces and more.

She said she would like to be able to display more artists to align with the San Marcos Art League’s mission to “encourage, foster, promote and nurture the arts in the San Marcos community.”

“San Marcos ... has a really blossoming art community,” Brown said. “[The art center] gives us a place to coordinate those kinds of things. It encourages the artists, but then also I think it’s very healthy for the community to have the arts.”