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There Are No Chickens on This West Texas Chicken Farm…They Only Cultivate Art

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Looking for a plot of land where he could live for reasonable rates, make pottery, and not have to worry that his studio would be demolished by landlords that had lofty development dreams, Roger Allen found a piece of property on the outskirts of San Angelo, Texas that seemed to fit the bill. It was 1971, and he was teaching art at the San Angelo Central High School. What he found, according NBC DFW, was three acres of weeds and nine dilapidated outbuildings filled with junk on what was formerly a poultry-processing operation. Allen, together with two of his friends, purchased the property for $25,000.

There Are No Chickens on This West Texas Chicken Farm…They Only Cultivate Art

Photo: Pixabay

Over 40 years later, Allen continues to make superb pieces of pottery, with many of his works of art being featured in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. And what of the old chicken plant? It’s become what’s known as “the Chicken Farm”. An amazing complex of gallery space and studios, apartments, a bed-and-breakfast, an excellent restaurant and living space for Allen and his wife, as well as co-owners Susan and Jerry Warnell, it continues to thrive as it appears to have been meant to all along!

In a recent interview, Allen recalled, “When we started here, there was nothing but the raw buildings. I’d teach school until mid-afternoon, come here and drive nails until night and then throw pots until 2:30 in the morning. For 20 years, it never stopped. Somebody was sawing, hammering, driving nails 24 hours a day, changing chicken coops into studios.”

There Are No Chickens on This West Texas Chicken Farm…They Only Cultivate Art

Photo: Flickr/Paulo Philippidis

Some of the finds they happened to come across in the process of cleaning up the property were 25 jukeboxes that were stored in one of the buildings. Among them, a vintage Wurlitzer “bubbler.” The group sold them all for $200 each, which Allen said bought a lot of Sheetrock for their ongoing project. Nowadays, 23 artists fill 20 studios at the property. Bed and breakfast rooms are comfortable and rustic, which blends right in with the artistic haven the group has worked to develop. The Chicken Farm Art Center has also incubated dozens upon dozens of stone carvers, painters, jewelers, photographers, metal workers, glass artists, and more, bringing life to the local art scene, while its owners continue to produce quality work themselves.

There Are No Chickens on This West Texas Chicken Farm…They Only Cultivate Art
Photo: Pixabay

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