500X Alumna Interview: Celia Eberle
500X: Tell us a little about yourself. What is your artistic background?
CE: I became interested in art at an early age, so I was always trying to learn more. I had my first formal art lessons at age ten, from an ambitious young college student named Bill Witherspoon. He ran an art gallery and was very involved in the Texas art scene at the time. I learned a lot from Bill and his associates over the years. I attended Kilgore and Stephen F. Austin. I received my BFA in 1974, and spent about ten years working for a commercial printer in Longview. By 1985, I could see a major contemporary scene was developing in Texas, or it appeared that way, and I wanted to be part of it. I created a new body of work, and I started entering competitions and joined 500X, commuting from Longview to participate. I used to drive all over Texas.
500X: What years were you a member of 500X?
CE: 1987 to 1991.
500X: Were you ever a 500X officer? If so, what position(s)?
CE: I believe I served as secretary.
500X: Who were some of the other members with you?
CE: Pauline Hudel (Smith) was president when I joined. Vance Wingate, Bryan Florentin, Mike Kennedy, Suzanne Weaver, Dottie Allen (Love), Tom Sale, Trish Nickell, Dave Szafranski, and Jennifer Hoffecker are the ones I remember, because we all became friends beyond the gallery. With a few exceptions, we are all still on the scene here and still good friends. It was an ambitious and talented group.
500X: Tell us about your time at 500X. What was it like?
CE: It was a heady experience. It was exciting to be involved in such a dynamic situation, where everyone was trying to push the envelope with all the skills they had. The membership was always changing and bringing different viewpoints into the mix. Guest artists contributed a lot. Some of the guest artists pulled out all the stops, with performances that were sometimes gratuitously lewd or unsavory. These weren't always worthwhile, but 500X was a place where they could do it. It was all part of the experimental, experiential atmosphere.
500X: Do you have a favorite moment from your membership?
CE: My favorite moment will always be my acceptance. The members had to vote me in, and I was thrilled when I found out. They were all eight or ten years younger, and all either had or were working on MFA degrees. I had been buried in East Texas.
500X: What do you think you gained from being a 500X member?
CE: My career is ultimately built on lifelong friendships and contacts I made at 500X.
500X: How has 500X impacted your career as an artist?
CE: 500X was a unique experience, and I probably can't emphasize its value enough. Connections built on a common experience are the strongest, and can always lead to other connections.
500X: Is there anything you'd like to add about your experience of being a member?
CE: I'm glad that 500X has survived and continues to provide opportunities. Dallas would be a poorer city without it.