Luis Purón had been executive director of the Rockport Center for the Arts for a little over two years when in 2017 Hurricane Harvey destroyed the organization’s home.
Nevertheless six days after the storm, Purón opened a recovery operation base in Corpus Christi, and importantly, made sure that not a single program or event previously scheduled was cancelled.
At the time of the storm, the Rockport center was already in the process of planning a modern new facility. Six months after the hurricane, Purón and the center’s leaders launched a $12.5 million capital campaign. And Purón completed that campaign, attracting a $5 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant in the process. Construction began in early 2021.
Occupying 1.2 acres project on Aransas Bay in downtown Rockport, the center includes a 14,000-square-foot gallery and art education complex, a 16,000-square-foot sculpture garden and an 8,000-square-foot performing arts, culinary arts and conference center
Founded by a group of local artists and incorporated in 1969, the organization launched the first Rockport Art Festival the same year. Now, the celebrated 53-year-old non-profit will have its first purpose-built facility.
With the new facility set to open later this fall, we caught up with the busy Purón.
Describe Rockport in three words.
Beautiful. Nature Conscious. Welcoming.
How would you describe the arts community Rockport?
Rockport’s art community is united. I have lived in other places with strong art communities, like San Antonio for instance; but the feel here is different. We all know one another or have worked with each other at some point. Whether you are an artist, in the art business or a staff member at one of the local attractions like the Rockport Center for the Arts, there is a cohesion that binds us that goes back generations. To the late 1800’s in fact, when plein air artists were coming here to document regattas. Our natural settings, bird migration, mild weather, proximity to the water, and plentiful sunlight have attracted artists here for generations. It is no wonder that Rockport is known for two things — fishing and art. Both are an important part of the local economy.
Who are your favorite local artists in Rockport? What are your favorite local galleries or arts institutions?
As a representative of the arts community in Rockport, it would be unfair to name just a few. The truth is that every single one of them are a cog in the engine that is the Rockport Center for the Arts. Our organization is the community’s gathering place. With so many exhibits, classes and events, there is always something arts related to do.
What do you value most about your work?
The opportunity to meet with people from across the State of Texas that love Rockport and what the arts mean to them in particular.
What do you consider your greatest career achievement so far?
Without a doubt the Rockport Center for the Arts’ capital project. The reason I moved to Rockport was to help the arts community build a new facility to celebrate art. Since 2017, we have been engaged in a campaign to raise $12.5 million to build a new campus for Rockport Center for the Arts. When we open the doors to the new facilities this fall, a cycle that started with strategic planning meetings in 2015 will come to conclusion. Not everyone gets to build a dream project. I certainly feel we have.
What do you do on a day off?
I like to visit my family in Mexico, travel and get together with friends to prepare for elaborate meals together.
Where is one place in Texas you want to go but haven’t been?
The only place that comes to mind is Monahans, Texas and the Monahans Sandhills State Park which is known as Texas’s largest beach without an ocean. At the center of the vast Permian Basin, the town sits above a massive dune field that reaches into New Mexico.