Vaughn Boulevard Relic, February 9, 2010

Vaughn Boulevard Relic

Still making too little headway on my new watercolors.  I would love to post them when they get a bit more “substance.”  As this evening draws to a close, I now post a second watercolor I entered last night in the Arlington Visual Art Association regional show about to open.  I title this “Vaughn Boulevard Relic.”  This defunct theater is located in the decaying Polytechnic Heights neighborhood in southeast Fort Worth, Texas, just east of Martin Luther King/U.S. 287 on Vaughn Blvd.  I pass this sad theater facade in the evenings while en route to the night classes I teach at Texas Wesleyan University.  Throughout the years, I have laughed at the stories passed on my former patrons of this theater.  They tell of an elderly female proprietor in a cotton dress with flashlight who threw out the “talkers” nightly.  I have sold quite a number of signed and numbered giclee prints of this, along with smaller, inexpensive ones, and scores of 5 x 7″ greeting cards with the image and the story on the back.  Most of the buyers are those from the neighborhood who remember the experience of attending shows here for 24 cents.  They even recall the prices of soda and popcorn, and of course, the experience of the elderly usherette.

Two years ago, while selling out of my booth at Fort Worth’s Jazz by the Boulevard, a lady came by and purchased one of the limited editions, recalling this theater from her teenage years.  I asked her if she ever got thrown out by the old lady with the flashlight and the cotton dress, and she gave me a curious look, saying “No.  I never saw such a person there, nor did I ever see that happen.”  While she was paying by credit card, another patron walked up, saw the print in her hand and exclaimed: “The Poly Theater!  I went there as a child!”  The buyer said, “So did I.  I was just telling this artist.”  The newcomer then asked: “Did you ever get thrown out by that mean old lady with the flashlight?”  The moment was too good not to re-tell.

I have done two studies of this theater.  Both are posted on my website.  What delights me about this one is my retreat into some earlier techniques I had picked up from the Andrew Wyeth drybrush studies.  I always liked the way he left the perimeter of his watercolors blank or faded out.  I also like how Wyeth rendered his focal areas with the sharpest detail, but as he moved further away from the area, he let the watercolor fade out, leaving only the pencil structure to stand alone.  I have tried that on quite a few watercolors, and personally like this effect more than the more traditional compositions where I take everything to the borders.  I guess I like this Wyeth effect more because (to me) it echoes the fact that the eye can only focus on one element at a time, while the surrounding elements are present, but out of focus.  I like to sharpen only part of my composition, and let the rest of it drift out of focus and finally into the white void.


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3 Responses to “Vaughn Boulevard Relic, February 9, 2010”

  1. lindahalcombfineart Says:

    I absolutely love this painting! The vibrant color takes all the sadness away. And the story is wonderful…

    I agree with your discussion of Andrew Wyeth and his watercolors. His drawings are similar. With a minimal amount of lines he communicates so much. If you like to draw, the book Master Drawings of Andrew Wyeth (or something close to this), sold by the Brandywine Art Museum, is a drawing class between two soft covers.


  2. Teresa Cortez Says:

    Do you have any more of these paintings? I used to go to the Poly theater in the early 70’s when I was about six or seven, ALONE!! Movies were $1. I think after the theater shut down the place was briefly a pet shop (a monkey once escaped and visited my former street — E. Crenshaw). Then the building became New Unity Missionary Baptist Church. I love old Fort Worth history. Beautiful work.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you for all that history, Teresa. I did not know about the pet shop and church transitions, and people have told me so much about that theater’s history. Thank you. On my website, there is another angle of Poly Theater presented, titled Poly Theater Blues Revue ( Both original watercolors are still for sale at the Weiler House Gallery (also listed on my website). I sell limited edition giclee prints of both images for $60. Thank you again for your interest and the historical update.


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