Is this a drugstore − or an art store?
When is a drugstore not a drugstore? When it’s L Bar Western Art on the courthouse square, that’s when.
Recently the historic Rexall Drugs sign − that had been painted over and hung over the front entrance of L Bar Western Art at the corner of N. Belknap and Washington streets − was cleaned up and restored.
Store owner Bill Lowrance and Marion Cole, part of the Sundown on the Square committee, felt that because of its historic significance on the courthouse square, it would be a pleasant reminder of the good-old days when many small Texas towns had a local Rexall Drugs.
Lowrance says that what they didn’t anticipate is that now people are stopping in expecting to find a drugstore.
“It’s been insane. I’ve gotten 10 to one people coming in looking for a drugstore. Rexall went our of business around 40 years ago, so it’s amazing people still think it’s around,” he said.
He added with a grin, “I even had a woman come in here who used to work at the soda fountain in a Rexall in her youth, and ask if I needed any help in the drugstore.”
“I’ve got that great big L-Bar Art sign right above the Rexall sign, and they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So if you wouldn’t mind taking a picture of the front of the store, that would be a big help in letting everybody know that the Rexall sign is just a historical marker on my art store and this is not a drugstore,” Lowrance said with a laugh.
Asked about his love of art, Lowrance says he has the passion for art like any artist, but not the talent. So the closest thing he can do is be an art dealer and that’s been a very satisfying profession.
He says, “I’ve been in this business for 23 years, the last six of them in Stephenville at this location. I’ve always liked the western lifestyle − I used to show and raise horses.
“I really enjoyed western art and as a kid I used to collect calendars they used to have at the feed stores and that kind of thing.”
His family had an exterior painting business that his dad started. As he explains, “We didn’t do interior painting - and when I got married, I needed to do something different in the wintertime. So we started up the art business. I sold the first art off of my bed because I didn’t have any other place to put it.”
He continues, “My brother-in-law is the one who suggested I get into this because he knew I really enjoyed it. I was in Kerrville when they opened the Cowboy Artists of America Museum they call ‘the CA’ and I met a lot of the artists that way.”
Lowrance says he contacted some of the artists at the CA, starting with Tom Ryan and working his art business up from there.
Asked about his long experience as an art dealer he replies, “I really like the business and I like the people. We’ve sold all over the world: Australia, Europe and, of course all over the United States. The first major sculpture I sold went to Tokyo, Japan.”
Regarding L Bar Art he says, “We’ve got some great artists and sculptors represented here. Our art is high quality and we try to keep things affordable so people can own some wonderful art. It’s been a great business and the people we’ve met are just out of this world.”
He singles out some local artists for praise: “There are some great artists out there and some really good local talent. Shannon McConnell of Dublin is very talented and of course everyone’s familiar with the great painting by Blu Dornan that he did of the late Chris Kyle. He did a wonderful job on that.”
He continues, “And then we have one of the best foundries in the world right here at Hoka Hey. They cast the nine-foot sculpture by Robert Summers of John Wayne for the Orange County Airport in California.
“We’ve got artists from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana and California. We have some exceptional western artists and have about 47 different people that we represent,” Lowrance says.
L Bar Western Art is located at 200 W. Washington Street across from the courthouse. It’s open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and after church on Sunday.
So if you’re down on the square and want to take a look at some truly fine Western art, stop in at L Bar Art with the Rexall Drugs sign over the front and say hello to Bill Lowrence.
Just don’t ask him to fill your prescription.
For more information, call 254-918-5227 or visit www.LBarWesternArt.com.