In early 2005, The Greater New Braunfels Arts Council made the decision to compile a history of the arts in New Braunfels and Comal County. It would include a short history of the arts since the founding of New Braunfels in 1845, as well as the history of current organizations submitted by the organizations themselves.
During the process we contacted as many current organizations as we could find, asking them to submit their histories. Because we wanted to be all inclusive, there was no requirement that the organizations be members of the Greater New Braunfels Arts Council. Compilation of these histories are as complete as possible and we hope that your organization is included. The first chapters of this book provide a brief overview of the arts that were flourishing from the time of the founding of New Braunfels. The following portion of the book provides the individual histories of arts organizations as they were submitted.
Veronica Sarkozi, President
Greater New Braunfels Arts Council
2003 - 2006
Note: The following column was the first of a series of columns written by Elizabeth Elliott which were published in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. The author is Executive Director of Circle Arts Theatre and a Past President of the Greater New
Braunfels Arts Council. On February 10, 1985, she wrote:
“What is this Thing Called Art?”
“Those of us who have occupied this planet long enough (I refuse to say that we’re old) - will
realize the title of this article paraphrases a famous song, “What is This Thing Called Love!” Love.
It’s probably the only word more mysterious than “art.” And you know that old theory: what we
don’t understand, we fear, and what we fear, we fight - (undoubtedly a process that sours human
relationships, too... but that’s another story).
So... some of you out there find the word “art” scary, right? Well, let’s turn the light on and
see what lurks in the dark. But first, let me warn you - you’re not being led by any expert. I still get
scared when someone calls me an artist. And I’m still busy turning on lights for my own “bogey
men” waiting in the shadows. You see, when I write a poem, or direct a play or design a poster or
costumes, or sing and act in public - when I do any of those things, I’m doing what I enjoy, doing
what is almost as necessary to me as breathing. Doing what some Unknown Wonderful Thing called
Self needs to do.
Why would I call that “art”? I’ll leave that decision to Tolstoy, the famous Russian writerphilosopher
who coined the word “Purism” referring to the artistic expression of peasants. He
declared theirs as the “purist” form of art, being born of the spontaneity of their feelings, whether
happy or sad. They danced and sang, composed verse extemporaneously, and all to express joy or
assuage grief, they were doing what they were moved to do and would laugh, I’m sure, if anyone
called them “artists.” And Robert Frost would agree with them. He said “I dare not call myself
‘poet’; others must do so.”
The human spirit, the Life Force, or whatever else you choose to call it, DEMANDS its own
language, its own means to communicate. And since that “language “ is born of the spirit, the odds
are greater that it will have the ring of truth. Though it may reflect the influences of environment
or a specific culture or a particular era, true artistic expression is not filtered through society’s polite
conversation. It celebrates the individual. Art is, in fact, the most tangible symbol of freedom we
have. It lives in the core of man where no one can apply the chains of group-thought. But I wax
philosophical, and I hear you saying, “Give us the facts Ma’am.”
O.K. Here goes. Art ISN’T a painting of a bowl of fruit or a bunch of trees or even the Mona
Lisa. It isn’t an opus by Mozart or the Venus de Milo or the Swan Lake ballet or Lawrence Olivier’s
Hamlet or Danny Kaye’s clowning. It’s ALL of that and so much more!
It’s Johnny’s or Suzy’s first crayon scribbles on your clean walls because, besides the genes
that determine their curly hair or dimples or the sizes of their noses, I suspect they also come
equipped with the urge to create beauty. If, as some reliable sources tell us, we are made in the
image and likeness of God, we certainly come by that urge honestly! And there are as many
definitions of Beauty as there are eyes and ears to perceive it.
Are you beginning to get the picture? Art isn’t some highbrow stuff enshrined by ladies
dripping ermine or pearls or, at the other extreme, vulgarities enjoyed by self-indulgent weirdos. Art
is the deep-seated need in ALL of us to search for what is beautiful and true-and if we’re lucky or
blessed, be able to create it. And if we give it our best effort, we might even be able to follow the
Great Example. We might smile upon our work and say, “It is good!” – Elizabeth Elliott.