The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House, SFA’s historic downtown art gallery

Programs of the SFA School of Art and The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House, SFA’s historic downtown art gallery, will benefit from a recently-awarded CARRI grant.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – With a grant from the Center for Applied Research and Rural Innovation at Stephen F. Austin State University, the SFA School of Art has developed a new student docent program at The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House. Additionally, the grant support will enable the return of the popular School of Art Friday Night Film series.
Art students at SFA will soon offer guided tours of the exhibitions showing at the Cole Art Center, SFA’s historic downtown art gallery. The program targets K-12 schools and educators in East Texas by offering tours to students. Regularly scheduled weekend tours will also be open to the public.
“We hope that the docent program will bring new and returning visitors into the Cole Art Center,” said Amanda Breitbach, assistant professor of art at SFA and principal investigator for the grant proposal. “The program will benefit SFA School of Art students, who will research the art and artists to prepare guided tours, and it will benefit visitors who tour our exhibitions. We especially want to work with area K-12 teachers who would like to bring student groups to the art center, and we plan to offer weekend tours to appeal to out-of-town visitors as well as locals.”
As part of the same grant, the School of Art plans to resume its free Friday Night Film series and collaborate with local art groups and nonprofits to plan other future “First Friday” events. The first film screening is at 7 p.m. March 3 in Cole Art Center and will feature “Icepick to the Moon,” written, edited and directed by Skizz Cyzyk. It is a documentary about musician the Rev. Fred Lane and the Raudelunas arts collective of Alabama.
“The film series was very popular in the community, and we're excited to bring it back,” Breitbach said. “Film professors Bill Arscott and Brad Maule and film historian Ron King  have all been very supportive in this effort. We plan to share a variety of films, from classic movies to art house films, documentaries and student work.”
Breitbach said the School of Art envisions the Cole Art Center as an important center for the arts in East Texas. Another aspect of the grant will be working with the SFA Center for Business and Economic Research to measure the economic impact of the arts in Nacogdoches.
“We see the arts as a valuable part of our local economy, and this study will give us useful data about the role of the arts right now, as well as identifying areas for expansion in the future,” Breitbach said.
SFA graduate assistants Dagon Blank and Joseph Owalabi will coordinate and oversee the new programs.
Showing at The Cole Art Center through March 24 is the exhibition “Persona,” with multimedia work by artists John Rasimus, Richie Budd and Kris Pierce.
The mission of the Center for Applied Research and Rural Innovation, or CARRI, is to “bring faculty and students together with business, industry, education and community partners in dynamic, interactive environments. Through these interactions, students will learn how to use their skills to work in teams with other students from multiple disciplines in order to solve complex real-world problems for rural and smaller communities,” according to information at
Educators and other groups interested in scheduling a docent-guided tour may email requests to
For more information about the School of Art, call (936) 468-4804. To contact Cole Art Center, call (936) 468-5500.