Ana Villaronga-Roman is a busy woman. A little over two years ago, she started the Katy Culture and Arts Alliance and the Fort Bend Arts Alliance. This summer she opened the Katy Contemporary Arts Museum, which includes an affiliated film school and photography school. She's already working to get the area surrounding the KCAM, currently known as Old Town Katy, designated as the Katy Museum District. And she's in the preliminary stages of organizing the Texas Gun & Trophy Museum, a state museum dedicated to all things that go bang.
The Puerto Rico native came to Houston some 30 years ago. After studying graphic design and art history at the University of Houston, she launched a career as a gallery director and art consultant. She moved to the Katy area 19 years ago and eventually opened her own gallery in the Cinco Ranch area. Villaronga-Roman saw an abundance of visual artists based in Katy and a notable lack of opportunity and organized support. There are few galleries in the area and non-profit groups rarely created partnerships with each other or local business groups. The Katy and Fort Bend Arts Alliances, both immediately successful, were welcome additions to the local scene.
"I knew if I opened a museum it would complete the package," Villaronga-Roman tells us. She found a home for the KCAM in the former Katy Lumber Company building, a mid-century concrete structure with a stacked stone facade and ceiling-to-floor windows that was in disrepair.
"I saw it was going to take a huge amount of work to bring it up to code, but the natural light was wonderful. That natural light was more important than anything else." The museum opened last month with a group show by Katy-based photographers.
What She Does: Villaronga-Roman's official title is Director and Curator of the KCAM, but so far she's found herself doing everything from organizing the museum's first show to fundraising, overseeing construction and selecting a staff for the museum's film and photography schools.
"I'm just one of those middle brain people," she says. "I can use both sides of my brain equally well. My favorite hat is my curator's hat. It's easy for me to go to a studio and choose what I want, put it all together and then hang it in a way that makes sense in the gallery."
Why She Likes It: "Short term challenges are fun. Long term challenges are hard. Choosing art or hanging a show has a sense of immediate satisfaction. It's something I can check off my list."
Her favorite moments are when she's alone in the museum hanging a show. "I love doing that. I'm very particular so it's best if I do that alone."
What Inspires Her: "I love being able to watch artists grow in their careers. I have been blessed with being able to see the improvement that my advice and my help, my exhibitions, have given many artists. From one year to the next I can see so much improvement. It makes me feel like what I'm doing does matter."
If Not This, Then What: "I would be a dancer. I love Latin dance. I've been dying to take flamenco. That's on my to-do list. I've learned a little bit of belly dance and I'd like to get back into that."
If Not Here, Then Where: "Somewhere in Texas, I absolutely love Texas." Villaronga-Roman says she doesn't have a problem with the state's extreme heat. "I don't like the cold. If it was cold here, then I wouldn't like it."
What's Next: Villaronga-Roman has a long to-do list. There's a sculpture garden being constructed at the museum. She's already selected the two painters who will be the focus of the next exhibit and is hard at work filling out the rest of the museum's year-round programming and education schedule. She's the force behind the push to create the Katy Museum District. And organizing efforts have already begun for the Texas Guns and Trophies Museum, which she hopes to open in two years.
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"Why art and guns?" she asks. "Because that will attract so much foot traffic to the area. There is no big important museum on guns in Texas; that doesn't make sense. There's a lot of potential there."
The Katy Contemporary Arts Museum is located at 805 Avenue B, Katy. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. For information, call 832-857-1340 or visit the museum's website Admission is free.
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