A Note from the Founder

Tiny green buds break through their dormant winter shell to declare that it is Spring!  Imagine Art has taken advantage of the dormant season of winter and like a tiny bud we are ready to burst out and declare a new season.  Our emergence will be slow and thoughtful as we roll out a major re-design of our 22 year old fine arts programming.  Our team has spent the last 8 months observing, evaluating, surveying and planning.  We recognized a critical need for greater infrastructure that will support a new scale of growth for Imagine Art.  New programs, policies, bylaws and operational manuals are just a few of the ways that we are demonstrating our commitment to a new organizational structure. Three new board members have joined our team including Rev Zac Coons, Rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church; Marsha Karrass, a licensed Social Worker; and Rick Wells, an independent contractor. We are also grateful for the multiple consultants who have come alongside as mentors as we navigate new thresholds of growth, including Mark Lit, Laurence Statman, Amy Salinas, Jennifer Cowart, and Jerry Bertrand.  

Imagine Art is emerging as a leader in the arena of arts, disability and ministry.  We are establishing ourselves as a site that demonstrates the power of creative place to change people and systems - for the Glory of God.  Our branches are growing in unique formation as we extend our services beyond the arts to explore new realms of peer support for persons with intellectual developmental disabilities; long term care services and supports; legislative advocacy; and affordable housing.  Our growth is both intentional and with purpose as we position ourselves to establish the model that opens the door to create a pathway from institution to community.  Imagine Art is simply a vehicle where likeminded and passionate artists gather to explore these unique intersections of art, disability, and ministry.  

Over the next 6 months our team will implement a re-design of studio, adding three new media studios: fiber and textile arts; mosaic and glass; and mixed media.  Embedded in these new spaces, artists will have additional opportunities to explore encaustics, book arts, and a literary arts program. We are developing media-specific curriculum for painting, drawing, ceramics, fiber and mosaics to be implemented in morning classes that will be led by Artists in Residence.  Our 75 artists, with and without disabilities, are being invited to develop individualized Artistic Plans that intentionally create a clear path whereby each artist can move through the threshold stages of hobby, developing, emerging, and professional access.  Weekly critiques, monthly guest artists, quarterly professional development workshops, and field trips to museums and artist studios are a few of the opportunities that will be available through our launch in September.  Meanwhile, our vision of land and expansion for affordable housing await God's timing, knowing that we have continued work to do in preparation for what is coming soon. 

Debbie Kizer
Founder / Executive Director

Studio Program

Artist Highlight: Larry Yanez Sr. 

Growth. Spring often reflects a time of growth and becoming; a fresh season for new things to emerge. The art studios at Imagine Art have been experiencing just that through significant growth both as a non-profit and with new artists and opportunities to presenting themselves to our community. A re-design of our studios has been one of the primary areas of focus as we look to expand our community of artists and their day-to-day making.  Imagine Art provides the only free, public studio in the city of Austin currently supporting artists with and without disabilities. It is our passion to demonstrate a creative place to change the way services are delivered to people with disabilities. As we look forward together, we've held many community-involved conversations about the type of growth we want and how we might best implement those changes to create the utmost ease of access for artmaking, supplies, and support. 

Since the beginning of the year, the art studios have combined forces to bring into bloom multiple events and exhibits, including February's Valentine’s Art Exhibit featuring paintings, textile works, paper craft and ceramics by Tony Hyden, Carol Gonzales, Arron Throgmorton, John Molina and Ramine Mondavi who transformed our gallery space into a worlA Valentine Exhibitd of shape and color. To view a sample selection of artwork featured at the Valentine's Exhibit visit our online Exhibits 'Zine. In March, we held our quarterly Open Sky open-mic event at TOMS Shoes, Coffee, and Goods on South Congress, where local Austinites get to experience Imagine Art through artists selling their art work and musical performances. Presently, we're preparing for our anticipated Spring Exhibit titled Rebirth and New Blooms. The exhibit will highlight our artist’s reflections on personal renewal as well as outward regeneration. The exhibit is expected to open with a gallery reception on Thursday, April 11th from 6 to 8 p.m.

Artist Highlight - This month we would like to highlight Larry Yanez Sr. who has been in our community making since 2017. Yanez is a deaf artist and Texas native who has long been recognized for his talents before joining our studios and we are so very pleased that he joined our community. Yanez’s work has been strongly inspired by his culture as well as the landscapes including the Red Rock Mountains of Sedona and the Colorado River. His body of work is continuously created as he pays tribute to honor God. Yanez aspires to create a humble heart and inspired soul in his viewers through his choice of subject matter, paint stroke and color pallette. His work along with various artists from our community can be viewed and purchased on Imagine Art’s online store. The online store is updated regularly to showcase the diversity of art and artists in our community.

Waiver Program

Richmond enjoys sharing his watercolor works in progress with the Imagine Art community for feedback, often focusing on the highlights and shadows of his pieces.

March was another month full of changes and growth in Imagine Art’s waiver program. We have been researching and creating a number of program updates including training resources and policy requirements for our waiver program staff. Our client-base and contracted staff have grown 57% and 50% respectively since March 2018 and administrative staff are responding to this growth by consistently assessing our needs for new policies and trainings. Our Americorps VISTAs, Mackenzie and Isha, have been an integral part of our capacity building and expansion of our program and policies. Additionally, support from the Training 4 Transformation program has been available to waiver clients at onsite meetings to facilitate person-centered discussion and planning.

In April, we will be establishing performance measures to effectively gather information on the satisfaction of our clients, staff, and family members participating in the waiver program. We will also be introducing a staff resource portal and service specific handbooks with updated policies. This resource portal will be used for timesheet submission, communicating with the contractor network and access to training resources. Our Nursing and Social Work programs will be updated and expanded upon, and we look forward to organizing a partnership with a local animal shelter to create volunteer opportunities for our clients who are interested in building a resume for competitive employment.

Our Quarterly HCS Advisory Meeting will be at Imagine Art on April 18th, 2019 at 3pm. Our Advisory Meetings are opportunities to hear updates on Imagine Art’s waiver programming, provide feedback and connect with the Imagine Art community. All are welcomed and we hope to see you there! RSVP by email to mackenzie@imagineart.net.

T4T Program

Matinee © 2017, Daniel Davis

In the spirit of Spring unfolding, Training 4 Transformation released a new mission statement as suggested by participants at March's Session Saturday: Transforming lives through an arts-based, inclusive peer support program emerging within a responsive community.

Every moment is revelatory in the open waters of program development. As a result, we latch onto the resources that consistently fortify our mission. One of those critical figures is Daniel Davis. As T4T's head chef, Daniel singlehandedly prepares a delicious dinner for 15 to 30 participants at every Session Saturday gathering. Daniel also provides event support, where he is a humble poetic force who sets up, keeps rhythm, and deconstructs the space. Beyond his work, T4T allows Daniel to “speak from his heart and be heard.” That is the core of T4T, namely, to speak authentically and to listen intentionally. Your neighbor may be the one who shifts your perspective on life, a chilling thought with warming reassurance.

Like Daniel, our participants have an opportunity to bring skills to the table and shape the future of T4T’s role in expanding the field of peer support. We are holding our two final Session Saturdays on April 27th and May 18th before transitioning into summer programming. Starting in April, we will meet four days during the week, which will include our circle of Open Share and introducing interest-based groups to encourage deeper conversation practice through common activities.

T4T is non-fee based and is self-paced. Please contact Teel at teel@imagineart.net or Hanna at hanna@imagineart.net for more information on programming.

Notable Dates

REBIRTH AND NEW BLOOMS captures the essence of new growth, new beginnings, renewed spirit and heart, and sprouting seeds unfolding into fragrant flowers.
See More


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department
Serving Austin for over 22 years, Imagine Art is a ministry that aims to establish a space where both artists with and without disabilities thrive.  Artists come daily to create in the studios, exhibit in the galleries and connect with the life of the community.  We are a place where artists experience the Presence of God and have an opportunity for transformation. Imagine Art is a place where every life is a work of art.
Copyright © 2019 Imagine Art, All rights reserved.

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