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Texas is an innovative state. It breeds originality. Perhaps because beneath that strutting cowboy persona lurks something that doesn’t quite fit in. We’re misfits. Texans, though they may hate the comparison, are really the new world French. The difference is that the French have had a millennium to hone, perfect and market their creative wares. Texas is behind by more than eight hundred years.

It is an interesting phenomenon how many creative people, no matter the area of
interest, one finds originating from Texas. Though this is by no means researched fact, I would bet my bottom dollar in saying that the Lone Star State has produced as many artists as any acknowledged state, maybe more. One may ask, “But what about New York and California?” True, there are far more exports from those two states, but their respective exports were initially an import from another place—many times Texas.

And this is the gist of my argument.

Even today, having taken the helm of advanced civilization, Texas still can’t seem to get it right with regards to nurturing its vast pool of creative souls. For to be an artist in Texas is to be an outcast. Does anyone see the irony here? But wait, it gets thicker. What am I getting at, you ask? Aren’t there plenty of great artists that call Texas home? Celebrities that the state honors with Apollonian laurels? My retort would be simply, “You are correct…but,”

These hoards of creative people had to leave the state in order to reach their potential. When, after success, they returned…of course they were greeted with open arms like the Prodigal Son. But they had to leave. That’s the point.

This seems insane given the fact that people are flocking to Austin in search of some kind of stardom, much like they have for nearly a hundred years to places like New York City, Los Angles and Nashville. But even with all its arty weirdness, the capitol city has yet to spawn a style beyond its country and western roots from the 1970s (a single exception being Texas Blues). As for the rest of the state, when it does export the arts, like say, post- Baby Boomer Texas Country, it’s weighted with mediocrity and is at best a footnote to something far better.

The reality is that Texas has never had the entertainment infrastructure to package and market its infinite talent. Why is that? Even our institutions of higher learning have little to offer. Particularly when juxtaposed with the universities of our elder siblings to the Southeast.

Having grown up in the state from a family thoroughly Texan in every regard, my conclusion is that for all our self-assuredness, Texans are blind to the arts out of lack of confidence. Someone from the outside must point to that which has merit. We need approval. The misfit prevails.

And the endless waves of invaders from the far reaches have yet to alter this truth.

Read more by Matt Minor!