In 1993, the Board of Directors hired its first part-time Executive Director and raised more than $12,000 to turn a former department store, located in the heart of the downtown, into three beautiful galleries, classrooms, and artists' studios. In 2002 renovations provided improved traffic flow, access to a passenger elevator, more visually stimulating galleries and ADA compliance. An art research library strengthens the educational element of the Center's mission and is now online with the Abilene Public Library.
The Center for Contemporary Arts was founded in 1989 with the support of the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council to provide enriching and educational experiences for the region’s communities through the promotion and support of artists. In 1993, the Board of Trustees renovated an historic building located in the downtown cultural district into classrooms, artist’s studios, and created 4,653 square feet of gallery space.
The Artists League of Texas
The Center has its roots in an artists' collective that was called The Artists League of Texas. The brainchild of international photographer Bill Wright and local arts supporter Lynn Barnett, the League began in 1984 and provided a place in Abilene where artists could work, commune, inspire and present their original works. Several of the original members of the League are still active Artist Members of The Center for Contemporary Arts.
Five years after it began, with a desire to expand their space and their influence, the group formed the not-for-profit corporation, The Center for Contemporary Arts. About the same time, a local native who had made it big in the New York art world came back home. Artist Clint Hamilton's unique style and experience in the world of pop art brought an energy and excitement that was infectious. Clint’s art and style were something of a phenomenon here in Abilene and brought attention to the Center that helped it expand its influence.
The Center celebrated it's 25th anniversary in 2014 and plans to continue bringing cutting edge contemporary art to Abilene, nurturing emerging artists, and empowering community members of all ages to create and share their art. 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the Center.