In the lead: Meet ABI-SPI’s new director, Deanna Powell

Deanna Powell, ABI-SPI’s new program director. Photo by Gaige Davila.

Photo and words by Gaige Davila

Art Business Incubator (ABI-SPI) introduces local and out-of-state artists every year to the Laguna Madre area; and this year, they’re introducing a new director.

Deanna Lynn Powell, from Dallas, is now leading the SPI Economic Development Corporation-created ABI-SPI, three years after its inception in 2019. 

Before Powell came to the Laguna Madre area, she attended school at Texas A&M University in College Station, then worked for the City of Dallas. When she came to South Padre Island, though, Powell initially worked with Island Fitness doing their marketing, after being an OrangeTheory coach in Indiana, where they lived before moving to Port Isabel after her husband found a job in the area. 

“We missed Texas, we also really missed warm weather and the beach, so it was just our lucky shot to get the chance to move here,” Powell said at ABI-SPI’s storefront on Padre Boulevard on South Padre Island. 

Powell said her varied professional experiences have aligned “perfectly” as the ABI-SPI’s new director, a position she’s held for just under two months at ABI-SPI. For those first 6 weeks, Powell shadowed former director Alexa Ray for her training. 

Powell hasn’t worked in an art-related business previously, so she’s learned some things along the way, namely the power of art itself.

“What’s been really eye-opening for me to witness is the work that artists create is almost the closest thing you can find to creating magic,” Powell said. “People walk in here, they get sparkles in their eyes. They’re just so moved by the act of our artists willing to say, ‘I’m going to create something, I’m going to make something beautiful.’ That alone really inspires the public.” 

As director, Powell leads ABI-SPI’s social media, maintains and updates their website, assists artists with any of their needs, bookkeeping and organizes and plans ABI-SPI’s Art Fest. So, as she describes it, she wears many hats. 

One of Powell’s focuses for her tenure as ABI-SPI’s director is grant writing, taking a grant writing certification course so she can potentially secure more grants for the nonprofit organization. 

Powell says this year has been ABI-SPI’s best yet, whether in art sales or event turnout. ABI-SPI regularly hosts art classes and a weekly social, their flagship event being the ABI-SPI Art Fest, hosted every second Saturday of the month.  

Powell attributes most of this turnout to the ABI-SPI’s artists creating and networking. 

“That’s completely due to our artists really finding a home in this area,” Powell said. “To ABI as a whole and to myself, that is really exciting to see. Because that is our mission: to boost the local art economy, and I think step one is really finding a community first.” 

Starting in January, this past year’s crop of artists will graduate from ABI-SPI and new artists will begin their program. This will continue into April. Powell has been advertising the open applications already, hoping to help potential out-of-state applicants arrange their moving here. 

Meet Powell and ABI-SPI’s current resident artists at ABI-SPI, open all week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 2500 Padre Blvd, Suite 1. 

Applications for ABI-SPI’s program are open year-round with rolling start dates for accepted artists. For more information on the program and upcoming events and classes, visit 

Permanent link to this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.