Words by Jan Brand | Photography by Killingsworth Photography
Get to Know Us
When Mayor Nin Hulett asks newcomers why they chose Granbury, the answer is always the same, “It’s the people.”
A walk down Pearl Street and you have all you need to know that Granbury has become a microcosm of all the things that make America great and it’s because of the people.
What makes a town special? We are more than roadways and drainage systems, jobs and resources. Towns, much like the best people, need a soul—a feeling that gives life to the ordinary.
The Dora Lee Langdon Cultural and Educational Center was created just to take another small Texas town and turn it into a community that attracts talented, intelligent men and women who bring their own special gifts and celebrate the gifts of others.
For reference, I’ll introduce now, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs where he lists the things that make a person whole and healthy, physically and emotionally. After physiological and safety needs, he lists belonging, esteem and self-actualization as essentials. One could apply the same standards to the wellness of a community.
We weren’t created to be one-dimensional. Artistic expression adds a dimension of wholeness. That’s how the Langdon Center provides opportunities in the last three of Maslow’s list: People are invited to be part of the community and culture around them. The Center encourages people to express their gifts and affirms their talent. They are given the opportunity to learn skills and further their education. The result is self-actualization of the town, not just the individual.
Granbury can check off everything on Maslow’s list. Civic and religious groups have worked to make sure the basic needs of its citizens are met. As well, the virtuous character of the residents make it a low-crime city, where people generally feel safe.
Mayor Hulett is proud to point out that Hood County is the ninth fastest-growing county in the country. People are drawn to Granbury because of the range and reach of interests and the inspiration afforded to its population by resident artists, and those with an ongoing search for knowledge.
Get to Know the Dora Lee Langdon Center
In 1996, Tarleton State University acquired Dora Lee Langdon’s home on Pearl Street and named it the Dora Lee Langdon Cultural and Educational Center. In 2012, the university turned the property over to the City of Granbury, where it became a hub of creativity for the community, attracting artists using many and varied art forms.
Dr. Koy Floyd had the vision of turning the home into a multi-functional cultural facility with on-sight, rotating art exhibits, and graduate classes in administration, criminal justice, and counseling.
Janice Horak, currently the Assistant Vice President for Development at Tarleton State, went to work as the Vice President of Institutional Development at the Langdon Center when it opened.
Floyd and Horak went to work at a dizzying pace to create events that enriched the community and added sparkle to a small town in Texas. The last Saturday of each month was designated Last Saturday Gallery Night. Galleries downtown stay open and pop-ups appear where artists show their work.
In April, the center sponsors a national art show, the Rio Brazos Exhibit, where people mail in up to three entries, or drop their entries by the Langdon. School children are encouraged to visit with a warm introduction to art and Granbury history.
In 2006, Granbury native Joel Back came to work at the Langdon and is the Community Relations Officer. Joel is known for accommodating the visitor and worker alike, helping to make their experience at the Langdon Center a positive one.
Get to Know the Art
As the town’s reputation grew as an art colony, it became a favorite place for artists like nationally known watercolorist Bob Cook, to settle in. Cook has won awards in nine of the last ten Rio Brazos Exhibits. Much of his fame was achieved as a successful architectural illustrator who did the artwork for such iconic sites as Disney World, the Disney Cruise Line, the Marriott Hotel chain, the 1968 Hemisfair in San Antonio, and Texas Stadium, he was also the first art director of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. His watercolors have racked up too many awards to list.
After he left the corporate world and moved to Granbury, Cook now paints to raise funds for Happy Hill Farm that captured his heart and the heart of his wife Carol. Known for its rescue of disadvantaged children, the facility is a Dallas Cowboys Courage Home.
Cynthia James was drawn to Granbury by her art and became part of the community of creatives who help inspire the artistic identity of the community. Having just wrapped up another successful Harvest Moon Festival in October as the chairperson, she also has a shop to run, Aréfactz at 118 N, Houston Street, where her unique wall hangings and custom jewelry are on display. Using glass, wood and metal as her medium, each piece is distinctive and original. As a schoolgirl she gazed out the classroom window and saw art in everyday life. “I always wanted to color outside the lines and draw outside the box,” she said.
This same enthusiasm started Jazz on the Green when a music student at Tarleton wanted to do an event on the lawn of the Langdon Center.
In 2009, David Talmage and Janice Horak created the Granbury Big Band. During the Harvest Moon Festival of the Arts in late October, the Langdon Center sponsored Jazz on the Green, with the Langdon Center Big Band leading the afternoon concerts on the park-like grounds of the center.
Under the direction of Andrew Stonerock, bluesy notes ebbed and flowed through the air as the band blew out Stompin’ at the Savoy, made famous by the King of Swing, Benny Goodman. Isaac Duke, male vocalist with the band, elicited cheers and applause when he sang Sway, a song made popular by Michael Bublé.
The Big Band was followed by an exceptionally talented set by the Weatherford College Jazz Band and the Tarleton Jazz Ensemble.
As well, continuing education is an ongoing part of Langdon’s goal. Jon Ball, father of Joel, and the center’s Community Relations Officer, gives computer lessons twice a year, ranging from introduction to computers, Microsoft Office and Advanced Office.
Get out from behind the keyboard and attend one of Ray Raney’s wine making classes by the expertise of a sommelier. In addition, beer making is taught by Greg Ball.
Phil Deluchi gives lessons in calligraphy, from an introduction to the craft, lessons for invitations, and for those seeking professional status.
The Langdon Review for the Art in Texas is an annual publication celebrating the outstanding cultural accomplishments of Texas artist. The subjects range from original poetry, photography, sculptures, paintings, fiction and nonfiction. The Wednesday following Labor Day, a three-day event is held at the Langdon Center. The Poet Laureate of Texas is invited to read from their work.
The Langdon Center is the heartbeat for much of the cultural and civic activity in Granbury. A heart pumps life into every cell of the body to give it life, and art and culture is the heart that pumps life into a community.