A Portrait Of South Texas: The Coastal Bend’s Emerging Arts Scene

The glittering, sun-soaked coastline may be one of our most exquisite natural masterpieces, but locals and visitors alike know that nature isn’t the Coastal Bend’s only artistic genius.

Image: @isabelle.terry

Made up of diverse cities and towns (such as Corpus Christi, Rockport, and Port Aransas, among others), and attracting transplants and visitors from around the globe, the Coastal Bend buzzes with innovative ideas and artists willing to push boundaries.

But what is it exactly that makes our art scene stand out in the great state of Texas? Here are some of the reasons the Coastal Bend is making a name for itself as South Texas’ trendy new art hub.

The Enchanting Marina Arts District

Image: Marina Arts District Instagram page

Anchoring Downtown Corpus Christi, the Marina Arts District is the beating pulse of the city’s culture, history, and artistic expression. With over 50 public art works and murals, 25 galleries and studios, 20 cultural and art events, and multiple historic walking tours, the Marina Arts District combines old Texas charm with trendy artistic innovation.

Thinking Outside The Sandbox

Each year, the town of Port Aransas invites artists to compete in a sand sculpting competition (the largest in the USA)! And these aren’t your average sandcastles…we’re talking about gravity-defying, larger-than-life sculptures. Folks from all over Texas and beyond make the trek to see these incredible sculptures and enjoy boot-stomping music, delicious eats, and a glorious day at the beach. The 2018 Texas Sandfest will run April 27-29 on the beach at Sandcastle Drive in Port Aransas.

Murals, Murals Everywhere

Image:  K Space Contemporary

The Coastal Bend has long been an area rich in artist culture, but in recent years Corpus Christi, in particular, has been experiencing a whole new wave of artistic talent and innovation. At K Space Contemporary, a non-profit dedicated to promoting contemporary art in South Texas, emerging and mid-career contemporary artists take center stage in an endless stream of exhibitions, gallery lectures, educational workshops, and film screenings.The organization also hosts community educational programs like the Keep Corpus Christi Colorful Mural Arts Program, which gets young students involved in the arts and makes paints the city with new-age, delightfully artsy murals.

All The Street Festivals

Image:  K Space Contemporary

Literally. All of them. From the Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas to the Babes on the Bay Fishing Tournament in Rockport, there are often too many cultural events going on to just pick one. One of our can’t-miss favorites is the annual Dia de los Muertos Street Festival, held every October in downtown Corpus Christi. With over 15 bands, 100 vendors, and thousands of people filling the streets, this event is an unforgettable way to celebrate the holiday.

And we can’t forget always popular, always green St. Patty’s Festival, where folks drink, eat, and dance to the music of traditional pipes and drums bands, plus old school and modern pop favorites. Then, come April, South Texas pays homage to Selena at Fiesta de la Flor, a 2-day music festival on the coast of Corpus Christi Bay. (Hurry! Tickets for the 2018 festival are on sale now!)

Pops In The Park

Image: Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra

Every year, Coastal Benders and vacationers flock to Whataburger Stadium for an unparalleled evening of music and fireworks at Pops In The Park. The event includes a concert by the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, a synchronized light show on the Harbor Bridge, and a breathtaking fireworks show that lights up the South Texas sky with sound and color.

The 2018 Pops In The Park will feature Tony and Grammy-nominated vocalist Jeremy Jordan and will include all-time favorites like “Star Wars Theme,” “At Last,” and music from hits like “West Side Story” and “Newsies.” The event will be April 21 at 7:30, and tickets are available here.

Seaside Showbiz

Coastal Benders will say time and time again that Farrah Fawcett, Eva Longoria, and Selena were all born and raised in Corpus Christi. That’s not us bragging, that’s just #CoastalBendPride. We like to think the Coastal Bend and its residents have always been destined for stardom. And there’s no better place to catch some of the top-notch theatricality “in the act” than at the Harbor Playhouse. Located in the heart of the Corpus Christi arts district, the playhouse has been the premier live performance venue in the Coastal Bend for 90 years!

The Write Stuff

From the bustling cultural scene of Downtown Corpus Christi to the quiet bayside haven of Rockport, the Coastal Bend has been inspiring poets and novelists like Diana Lopez, author of Coco, for years. Readers and writers alike attend open mic nights and author readings, along with annual events like the People’s Poetry Festival, which draws droves of literary talent and appreciation.

For writers seeking publication, Corpus Christi boasts the Switchgrass Review, a national literary journal that publishes work by writers from the Coastal Bend and across the nation.

Canvas, Cocktails, and Conversation

For those who want to try their hand at creating a little art (while also enjoying good company and good wine), the Art Museum of South Texas hosts a Canvas, Cocktails, and Conversation event. Soak in a magnificent view of Corpus Christi Bay while learning a new artistic skill. Classes range from landscape and still life to fused glass plates…so there’s something for everyone. And you never know, you may become the Picasso of South Texas!

Bonus: In conjunction with the city’s First Friday Artwalk, the museum hosts a Dollar After Dark event on the first Friday of every month with $1 General Admission. Talk about a cheap date!

Music Under The Stars

When it comes to outdoor concerts, you simply can’t beat the Old Concrete Amphitheater. Just blocks from Corpus Christi Bay, it’s the biggest outdoor music venue in Corpus Christi. The Mainstage is open air and offers concertgoers “music under the stars” while its sister stage, The Pavilion, provides a covered setting for smaller, more intimate shows.

Upcoming 2018 performers include Mexican legends Los Tigres Del Norte & Siggno, country singer Chris Young, and Paramore…and that’s just a taste of the amazing artists visiting the Coastal Bend this year!

Art (And Coffee) To Be Inspired By

When it comes to perfecting the art of coffee (and various other scrumptious beverages), nobody beats Island Joe’s Coffee and Gallery on Padre Island. Island Joe’s is the artist cafe of the Coastal Bend. Nothing gets the creative neurons snapping like a jolt of caffeine, right?

With warm, recycled island decor, Island Joe’s is a favorite among coffee connoisseurs and creatives, and it’s not unusual to see writers tapping away on their laptops; artists sitting by the window, sketching the Padre Island sunset; or performers setting up for an open mic event.

The shop’s artistic vibe is spearheaded by owner Bryan Tumlinson, whose photography decorates the walls, providing the perfect setting for artists!

Wherever your happy place — a concert stadium, a gallery, the downtown streets, or the beach — the Coastal Bend always brings its A-game in art and entertainment. So come on, get out on the town!

And if you decide the Coastal Bend art scene is just too irresistible to stay away from (we don’t blame you), Keller Williams Coastal Bend is here to make your home search a breeze! Buying a home for the first time? Download our exclusive Buyer’s Guide.  Want to know your loan options? Speak with a local lender.  And when it’s time to find the perfect home, contact an agent to help you make your dream home a reality.