Isabella Salerno ran in and out of colorful art displays created by other children.

Salerno, 9, was happy to see more than 1,000 paintings, drawings and 3-D pieces from Killeen Independent School District students on display during the fifth annual Take 190 West Festival on Saturday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

“It’s really cool and I really like art a lot,” she said. “I like to do stuff like draw dresses. I don’t trace. I do a good job.”

In addition to a huge display by Killeen ISD, the event featured 23 artists, 21 authors and 12 sculptors, said Connie Kuehl, director of the conference center. It evolves each year as organizers add more mediums.

“It started when we were challenged by the city manager to try to bring more cultural, entertainment and art to the community,” Kuehl said. “I want the community to recognize how many wonderful local artists and authors there are. They don’t have to drive to Austin to buy fine art.”

Kuehl said she’s happy the festival is growing and wants to see more public art displayed around town. Saturday’s event saw record attendance, she said.

The festival is a visible way to share what students and art teachers accomplished throughout the year, said Sheila Donahue, fine arts director for Killeen ISD. It’s hard to articulate the value of art in the lives of children or other individuals.

“Art is essential. Art is like oxygen. (It) is something that comes from the inside and is an expression in and of itself,” she said. “A lot of times people come in and look at the surface, the technical prowess that the artist shows, but it’s more than technical. When you look more deeply, you see what the value is to the person who created it.”

Next year’s festival will be March 1.

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

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