How do Waco artists love their city? Fifty-two ways, if they’re counting by “Waco 52,” a special exhibit on display Friday through Wednesday at the Texas Capitol.

The exhibit on the ground floor of the Capitol rotunda showcases a single work from each of 52 Waco artists. If that number seems familiar to cardplayers, it’s a deliberate choice. A corresponding deck of playing cards with images of the works on the card backs, no jokers included, goes on sale this week online and at select venues.

“Waco 52” formally opens Friday evening with a reception that includes Waco artists, performing musicians, food and drink from Balcones Distillery, exhibit panels built by Maker’s Edge and decorations from Art Center of Waco. Waco graphic designer Melissa Rowland Whisnant created the exhibit’s illustrated catalog, which features a foreword from Waco’s Chip and Joanna Gaines of “Fixer Upper” fame.

“We’re showing how rounded support for Waco as a cultural hub is in our community,” said Fiona Bond, Creative Waco executive director and a driving force in the creation of the city’s new Downtown Waco Cultural District.

The seed for “Waco 52” was planted last year by state Reps. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco, and Kyle Kacal, R-College Station, Bond said. The two lawmakers spoke to Waco arts leaders at a professional development workshop and invited them to share Waco’s creative output at the state Capitol.

That idea later fused with one about an art show tied to a card deck, suggested by Andy Hogue, director of Baylor University’s Philanthropy and Public Service Program. “Waco 52” was the result.

A call for entries earlier this spring drew 250 submissions. Exhibit jurors Martha Peters, the Arts Council of Fort Worth’s vice president of public art; and Sarah Derrick, head of learning at Dundee Contemporary Arts in Scotland, pared that down to the 52 pieces in the show. Overseeing “Waco 52” as exhibit manager is Waco artist Rhiannon Rosenbaum.

Range of media

Art in the exhibit covers a broad range of media: watercolor, acrylic and oil painting; photography; cut paper; ink and watercolor; drawing; sculpture; glass; digital art; and ceramics. The images created by Waco artists were similarly wide-ranging, including Magnolia Market’s silos, World War II Navy hero Doris Miller, the ALICO Building, St. Francis Catholic Church, Waco Suspension Bridge, Woodway Park, Baylor’s Pat Neff Hall, the 25th Street Theater, Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and several studies of rivers, water and sky.

The artwork will be displayed at the Capitol through Wednesday night, but Waco art fans unable to travel to Austin can wait until July for a pop-up showing, Bond said.

They also can buy a “Waco 52” deck of cards for $19.99, with proceeds going to fund arts initiatives in Waco and McLennan County. Stores that plan to sell the card decks include The Findery, Interior Glow, Christi’s Interiors, Art Center of Waco and the Cameron Trading Company. The cards are also available at creativewaco.org.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor