Stone chips start flying today as sculptors from across Texas begin chiseling into their 1-by-2-foot blocks of limestone to kick off the Take 190 West annual art festival in Killeen.

Participants will have from 8 a.m. today to 4 p.m. Saturday to carve their entries in the professional-level contest for a chance to win cash prizes.

Bob Ragan of Florence took first prize the last two years for his intricate, abstract designs.

“It is a lot to do in that short a period of time,” Ragan said. “It’s about endurance. After about five or six hours, that kind of work will get to you.”

Ragan said that much like Florence, Italy, the Florence where he lives is situated in a region naturally stocked with good carving stone.

“We’re in the middle of an area where we have 25 different quarries,” he said. “When you have areas like this in the world, the quarries will donate stone and the carvers will go crazy.”

As an architectural carver by trade, with 30 years of experience in sculpture, Ragan is poised for another successful run this year.

“It’s always fun to do; it doesn’t matter how it turns out,” Ragan said.

Winners of the contest take home $1,500 for first place, $1,000 for second and $500 for third.

“The contest makes them work hard for their money,” said Connie Kuehl, director of the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

Contest sculptures will be displayed at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center and Seton Medical Center Harker Heights for one year.

In addition to the carving contest, the art festival features professional artists displaying their art pieces in a wide variety of media, including paint, metal work and fiber art.

“The idea is to get all kinds of art fans and let people see how creative these folks are,” Kuehl said.

Other features of the event include book readings and art demonstrations such as one artist who carves paintings into the dirt collected on car windows.

“He comes in and dirties up the windows and starts painting,” Kuehl said.

The public will have its first opportunity to view bronze sculptures created by Salado-based artist Troy Kelley for the Nov. 5, 2009, Fort Hood Memorial.

The Take 190 West Art Festival is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, 3601 S. W.S. Young Drive.

For more information, call (254) 501-3888 or go to

Admission is free.

Contact Brandon Janes at or (254) 501-7552

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