By Megan Rodriguez
The exhibition of 100 previously unseen art pieces, dated from 1988 to present day, will be the main event marking American Artist Benjamin Knox’s 30th anniversary in the industry.
The celebration at the Benjamin Knox Art Gallery on Oct. 27 will include live music, free refreshments, and the chance to purchase Knox’s newly released paintings and photos. Knox says he is excited for the event because it will be an opportunity to show his progress from the last three decades.
“I’m looking forward to people seeing my new work and seeing the development of my style,” says Knox. “I think every year the more you do the more you grow. I think I am developing and getting better in my art and art form and moving toward a national market.”
Knox’s art career began when he was an architecture student at Texas A&M University and needed to pay for his education. Since then, the side job became a thriving business complete with an art gallery, which is housed in a historic landmark – the College Station Depot.
“My first studio was out of my dorm room which was dorm six on the Quad,” says Knox. “Then it was out of my house, and then in 2001 is when I bought the College Station Depot, the namesake of the town. It had been destroyed in 1966 and I brought it back into the gallery. It was dedicated by Governor Perry and Margaret Rudder.”
The gallery has undergone some major changes since its humble beginnings including the addition of custom diploma framing, an event rental space, an art center, and the area’s first wine bar. Despite these shifts, one thing that has never changed is Knox’s reputation as a collegiate artist, particularly in relation to his alma mater.
“Artists always reinvent themselves, and I am in the process of reinventing myself,” says Knox. “Many pieces I am releasing are non-A&M. They’re landscapes, they’re regional scenes. A lot of people affiliate me with just doing Texas A&M artwork and for over 10 years I’ve been studying with some of the top artists in the world, working with them and learning to develop my style.”
While the end of October will officially celebrate Knox’s 30 years in the field and the rebranding of his work, Knox says he is also excited for a separate event. On Oct. 2, Knox revealed 677 new photos, paintings, and sculptures that will be at home in the new Embassy Suites by Hilton College Station.
“The hotel is mainly regional art under the six themes of live oak, butterflies, wildflowers, Texas skies, rivers, and trains and history,” says Knox. “Each room is according to one of those themes. My goal with all of this artwork in the hotel is to blow people away.
Knox says the most rewarding part of his career has been the chance to help others with his art by donating his pieces. In doing so, the art is sold at fundraising auctions and various special events, raising more money than the gallery could have given out of pocket.
“Part of my mission statement since I first started 30 years ago is the more you give to others, the more that comes back to you, and I have found that to be true with art,” says Knox “On average we give about two donations a day. We have estimated that my artwork, the fundraising events, and all the special projects we have been involved with has generated between 3.5 to 4 million dollars. That’s been a really rewarding aspect of being in business for 30 years and to have that kind of impact.”
In the spirit of giving back, Knox says he is offering to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey by replacing any damaged or lost work that he has done at 50 percent off the regular price from now until Feb. 14, 2018.
“We are starting to get stories of people who lost their diploma framing or their artwork because of Hurricane Harvey,” says Knox. “I’m hearing stories of people saying ‘All I wanted to get was my diploma frame and your artwork or my senior boots.’ I was once in an avalanche and it completely destroyed my home, so I understand completely what they’re going through, you lose everything.”
In line with his goal to reinvent himself and make improvements to his gallery, Knox says he is in the beginning stages of expanding the space into an art district.
“Now the plan is to develop that further into a whole art district with the half a block behind it,” Knox says. “That’s something in the process and I am hoping to break ground next year. I will have a lot more retail space available and I will also have high end condominiums. I am looking to develop the art academy and the whole arts center concept even further.”
Knox says the anniversary celebration will be a casual community event. The celebration will be hosted at the Benjamin Knox Art Gallery on Oct. 27 from 6 to 9pm and is free to the public. The 30-year anniversary exhibit will be on display through spring of 2018.
“It’s basically a 30-year anniversary exhibit just to mark how long I’ve had the good fortune of being a professional artist and show the work from the past, show where I am now, and also give people a glimpse of where I’m going with the work I’m doing.”