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Remembering Beloved Abilene Artist Van LeBus

The Center for Contemporary Arts celebrates the legacy of one-of-a-kind local artist Van LeBus.

Van LeBus was a familiar face in Downtown Abilene and the local and regional art world for several decades.

Van was born October 31, 1944 and moved to Abilene from Louisiana as a child. He graduated from Abilene High School and was one of the earliest artist members at The Center for Contemporary Arts.

His keen perceptions allowed him to see the preciousness in the mundane and added a sense of reverence to the found objects he incorporated in his work. His alchemical ability to elevate “junk” into talismans, musical instruments and objects of fascination and beauty allowed anyone who encountered him to peer into his world.

Van considered himself “a materialist” and reveled in sourcing materials for his work and engaging with fellow creatives. His circle of influence was far reaching, associating and creating work with musicians, poets, fellow artists and unique characters locally and throughout his travels. 

A longtime staple at ArtWalk, Van was known to amaze crowds with his unique creations. Whether it was bending forks into beautiful pieces of jewelry or cracking jokes that lit up the room, Van left an indelible mark on innumerable lives in Abilene and beyond.

His legacy of humor, inclusion, innovation and eye for the quiet splendor of this world has left a deep and lasting mark on our organization and on all who were blessed to call him a friend and peer. As a long-time member of The Center for Contemporary Arts, his presence will be sorely missed.

We invite you to share your photos and memories with us. We will be updating this post to include them. 

Learn more about Van Lebus in this 1984 interview with Metalsmith Magazine here.

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Phone: 325.677.8389


Thank you to these supporters:

Abilene Cultural Affairs Council

Dian Graves Owen Foundation

Legett and Kickapoo Foundations

Robison Excelsior Foundation

Texas Commission on the Arts

Community Foundation of Abilene

David and Sindy Durham

Mike and Julie Denny

Weatherl & Associates

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The Center for Contemporary Arts

220 Cypress Street

Abilene, Texas 79601


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Closed Sunday and Monday

Open 5 - 8 p.m. every second Thursday for ArtWalk