By Alicia Lacy

Killeen Daily Herald

In a show that began Tuesday and continues through the end of August, Killeen-area residents can view the artwork of five Austin artists at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

The center invites regional artists to display their works, welcoming the first gallery from the Austin area, Austin Art Space Gallery and Studios.

With the help of local art enthusiast Charles Wilson, staff at the center invite local artists to display their works for about a month at a time. The showings help the artists gain exposure and provides an avenue to sell some of their pieces.

Having artwork displayed on the walls of the center began a few years ago, said Connie Kuehl, Killeen Civic and Conference Center director.

Kuehl said the city manager wanted more art displayed at the center, so she purchased equipment to hang and showcase artwork.

Since having the works of art displayed, Kuehl said she has received positive response from the people who use the center for meetings and events.

Wilson said he visited Austin Art Space earlier this year and fell in love with the vibrancy and style of the works displayed, which urged him to connect with the gallery to have pieces displayed in Killeen. Austin Art Space is an artist collective with 10 resident artists.

The works at the civic center are by painters Terri Starnes, Marilyn Rea-Nasky and Jan Knox, photographer Orion Knox, and painter and gallery owner Valerie Walden.

Walden said each of the artists offers their own style from oil, acrylic and watercolor paints to contemporary and nature pieces.

Austin Art Space began as Artspoken Gallery in the small house in Austin. When the owner of the gallery moved to Alaska, Walden, Knox and Rebecca Bennett reorganized the gallery as an artists' cooperative.

The artists quickly outgrew the house and moved into a retail space with a gallery and studio for the artists to work and exhibit their works.

Wilson said he has a vision of Killeen as a city that appreciates the arts.

"Art is a good foundation for society and a creative force for people," he said.

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