Del Rio has a vibrant, off the radar, arts scene that is anchored by world renowned artist Adrian Falcon, who’s recently had exhibits in Paris, Moscow, Italy and Mexico City. While Falcon is the cornerstone of the scene, there are notable artists like Cris Escobar and award winning photographer Ron Castle.
While the artists provide the breath-taking creations there are several galleries that provide homes for much of this art.
Del Rio is more than visual arts, having produced stalwarts like Radney Foster, Moises “Blondie” Calderon and rising star Beck Hyslop. A Friday night, you can find artists like Texas Roots Revival, Conjunta mi Rey, duo Clifton Castle and Larry Campos; or The Moon Caps. Memo’s House Band, a collection of some of the area’s best musicians, always starts the weekend on Thursday evening when they play a 2-hour set.
Nationally known comedian, Jose Sarduy, has roots in Del Rio. While Sarduy hails from Miami, he is an Air Force Reservist assigned to nearby Laughlin Air Force Base and often performs locally. The City of Del Rio and Doc Holliday’s has also begun bringing in national and regional comedians.
Casa de la Cultura
Casa de la Cultura is a small community arts center that displays paintings, sculptures, and other works made by artists from around the state of Texas. The art center also hosts art, music, and dance classes, and it participates in Del Rio’s First Friday Artwalk.
Del Rio Council for the Arts
Del Rio’s Firehouse Gallery, home to the Del Rio Council for the Arts, has a mission to provide “affordable arts education and entertainment for the enrichment of the community and the surrounding area”. This community-based nonprofit stays true to its word, sponsoring a robust catalogue of programs and exhibitions year round for the region’s art enthusiasts. The facilities are housed in Del Rio’s original fire house, an early mid-century two story construction that once served as city hall and jail as well as fire station. It’s among a number of the city’s historic buildings, some of which that have been restored to their original state or, like the Firehouse, reimagined in order to serve a more modern purpose. Today, the Firehouse includes a gallery with changing exhibitions and an art school offering classes in drawing and painting, ceramics, along with an artist-in-residence program. A Firehouse favorite is the downtown First Friday Art Walk, a lively event that takes place the first Friday of every month.
Lee-Bunch Studio Gallery
Located in a historic commercial building in downtown Del Rio, the Lee-Bunch gallery exhibits original paintings in watercolors, oils, and pastels, and does custom framing and commission work.
Visitors can browse the gallery Monday through Friday and on Saturday afternoons.
Whitehead Memorial Museum
Unlike many other museums, the Whitehead Memorial Museum's exhibits are spread throughout several buildings, each in itself of historical significance. The museum is dedicated to serving Del Rio and preserving its local heritage.
In 1962, the Whiteheads, a local ranching family, purchased the vacant Perry Mercantile Building and donated it to the city of Del Rio and Val Verde County to house a museum. Since that time, the museum has expanded into twenty-one exhibits on more than two acres of land.
Among the attractions are a replica of Judge Roy Bean's Jersey Lilly Saloon,
an authentic frontier log cabin, and the Cadena Nativity, recognized by the state of Texas
as cultural folk art. The gift shop is located in a former mission. On the grounds are the graves of Judge Bean and his son, Sam.
The Laughlin Heritage Foundation Museum displays photographs, medals, and artifacts meant to tell the story of the individuals and units that once served at Laughlin Air Force Base. Visitors can tour the downtown Del Rio museum on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Historic Del Rio
The community of San Felipe Del Rio began in 1868 as a farming village built around the canal system. The town’s name was later shortened for the benefit of the Post Office (eliminating confusion with San Felipe de Austin in East Texas.) Del Rio’s population increased dramatically in 1882 (from about two-hundred to two-thousand) when the Southern Pacific Railroad arrived, and that growth spurt encouraged community leaders to petition the state to form a separate county. Val Verde County was organized in 1885 with Del Rio as its county seat. The state detached parts of Kinney, Crockett and Pecos Counties and named the new county Val Verde, the name of a New Mexico Territory Civil War battle site and one representative of the oasis-like areas along the rivers that flow through the new county. Del Rio has been known as the City of Roses and the Wool and Mohair Capital of the World. The plentiful canal water once prompted many flower gardens, and the countryside proved very profitable for sheep and goat ranchers.
Val Verde Winery Several families of Italians arrived in Del Rio in the 1880s including Frank Qualia who brought the first wine-press. The Prohibition of the 1920s put the Texas vintners out of business, except for Qualia. Hence, the Val Verde Winery is the oldest, continuously operating winery in Texas. Located in South Del Rio on the corner of Hudson and Qualia, the Winery is open to the public for purchases and tasting.
Brown Plaza Named for George Washington Brown, a county official and donor of the land, this public square became one of the principal sites of the San Felipe neighborhood (south and east of San Felipe Creek). The business community that once lined the plaza declined in the 1950s, and the Flood of 1998 destroyed most of the structures. The Cinco de Mayo holiday and Mexican Independence Day gritos are still celebrated on the Plaza.