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60 Seconds On Community with Rachel Flores

More Time with Rachel Flores

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Early in 2023, the Amarillo Art Institute welcomed the Amarillo community “Back to Sunset” following extensive renovations at Sunset Center. Now known as “Arts in the Sunset,” the space is a breeding ground for creativity and artistic expression.

“Arts in the Sunset is really a facility to help artists along every walk of their lives,” said Rachel Flores, Executive Director of the Amarillo Art Institute. “So whether they’re a beginner artist that wants to take classes and wants to improve their skills, moving along to being an artist that really needs a studio space to be able to work and develop and create their body of work. And then we have a community gallery where items are actually for sale. So once artists reach the point where they actually want to have their art for sale and want to expose themselves to the public and get notices and really grow their fanbase, we also offer that so that really, along their whole career, we’re able to foster that.”

Arts in the Sunset began its life as Amarillo’s first shopping mall, “Sunset Center Market Town” in 1960. The space maintained its hold on shoppers in the Panhandle until Westgate Mall opened in 1982. In 1992, local developer C.W. Crouch purchased the property with plans to revitalize it. When Crouch passed away in 2001, his wife Ann took over and opened the Amarillo Art Institute in 2004. Today, Arts in the Sunset is run by the Crouch Foundation, which was founded in 2017 to revive the center.

“Arts in the Sunset contains not only the Amarillo Art Institute, but it also contains about 20 artist studios where artists are able to come in on a regular basis and actually work on their projects. We have a community gallery, and we have a variety of event spaces for people to rent and have community events. And then we also have an outdoor performance area,” Flores said.

The Amarillo Art Institute also offers plenty of opportunities for aspiring artists to learn more about their craft.

“The Amarillo Art Institute offers classes in a variety of media. We offer classes in weaving, ceramics, encaustic, glassblowing, and of course, we have painting classes,” Flores said. “Any time we have an instructor and students that are interested, we try to make a class because we’re really here to support our community and help people learn what they want to learn.”

Additionally, Arts in the Sunset is able to host captivating art exhibitions. Their inaugural exhibition is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition, and Flores notes that there will be more opportunities for diverse exhibitions in the future. 

“So our very first inaugural exhibition here at Sunset is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition, which is an exhibit of 34 of the frescos found in the Sistine Chapel. You get to get up close and personal with them, and learn more about each individual piece and how it plays into the bigger exhibit as a whole,” Flores said. “We’re hoping to have more and more exhibitions, traveling exhibitions as well as local exhibitions come so that our public can go and experience art in a new way.”

Arts in the Sunset aims to bring the Amarillo community an immersive art experience locally, without having to travel. 

“Being in a decently smaller city, we don’t always get the opportunity to have exhibits like this brought to us,” Flores said. “Being able to have a space that we can actually bring in rather large exhibits so people can experience them in their hometown, I think is really incredible for our community.”

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