Archive for July, 2018

Vacation Wanderings

July 9, 2018

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Standing with Ian Watson at the Opening of His One-Man-Show

I’m the subject. I’m also the verb as I paint, but I’m also the object. I am the complete sentence.

Barnett Newman

Finally, vacation has arrived. Summer School ended Thursday for Texas Wesleyan University, and by Friday morning, I had completed all grading for the term.  The university paid out my contract several days before the term actually finished, so I was more than ready to sing the Song of the Open Road (Whitman).

In my second year of high school teaching (1989), Ian Watson came into my life as a sophomore and has remained in the best way, though he now resides in Amarillo, over five hours away. In art and humanities classes, he was an enthusiastic learner, and very skilled as a young artist, encouraged by his father, an accomplished photographer (who took the above photo) and graphics design artist.

By the time he was a junior, Ian had become enthralled with the Abstract Expressionist tradition, and spent hours studying its history, particularly Jackson Pollock, even reading that massive biography by Naifeh and Smith. Rolling canvas across the art room floor, Ian experimented with Pollock’s drip style, even embedding pieces of glass, cigarette butts and bottle caps into the wet enamel. Many years later, when we caught up again, I learned that he had moved into Color Field investigations, and that he had read the Rothko biography by Breslin. He also gave me as a gift a book I had had my eye on for years, Barnett Newman: Selected Writings and Interviews.

Ian opened his first One-Man-Show at the Object Gallery in Amarillo, Texas Friday night, and I knew from the day it was advertised months ago that I would be present. In 2010, Ian attended the opening of my first show, and I’ll always be indebted to him for that.  His opening was an enriching experience, and I’ll always appreciate the special feeling of seeing someone emerge as a professional artist that I knew as a young student in my earliest years of teaching.

Because of the Amarillo show, I was unable to attend the monthly Art Walk in Lubbock, Texas, where the gallery Art for Goodness Sake just hung seven of my newest plein air landscape watercolors of the Southwest. But I at least had the pleasure of stopping by the gallery and visiting with the owners.

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“Ghost Ranch”–One of seven watercolors now at Art for Goodness Sake

I am on my way to the mountains now. As John Muir once wrote, I feel them now calling out to me, and I feel compelled to go. I anticipate much joy as I paint them en plein air. I’ve brought along with me my half-finished volume on Cezanne, and I am at the part where he was stunned at the sight of Mont Saint-Victoire and felt moved to paint it about sixty times, never feeling that he got it right. At this point, I know I haven’t gotten my mountains down on paper the way I wish them to appear.

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Historic Santa Fe Depot, Fort Worth, Texas

I have also brought along my work on a commission I was offered last April. I am painting the Santa Fe depot of Fort Worth, located on Jones Street, choosing a full sheet of 300-pound D’Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper. A patron approached me at Artscape 2018, offering a generous sum of money for me to paint the location posted above, because years ago he experienced an existential turning point in his life while standing there admiring the structure. He wishes to preserve a visual memory of this significant moment in his life. For that reason, I feel very close to this subject as I work, thinking of this man at a crossroads who today celebrates a key decision in his life. I also like the thought that the painting will be developing across west Texas, New Mexico and Colorado as I journey.

The summer is hot, but at least in west Texas it cools to the low-seventies at sundown, and remains that way till almost noon the next day. The scorching three-digit temperatures in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are not for me. I’m glad to be quit of them.

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Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Thrilling Transitions

July 3, 2018

Redlands first

Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.

Henry David Thoreau


Good morning from the Redlands Hotel in Palestine. I have taken my seat inside the newly-reconfigured Gallery at Redlands, Room 109. Fascinating changes have occurred inside this historic hotel, with more to come.

Redlands FM

In a previous blog, I mentioned that the Red Fire Grille came under new ownership earlier this year, and with that change came hotel renovations that created the beautiful RFG “Sparq Bar” just down the hall from the gallery. Patrons are now coming in great number to enjoy fine dining as well as cocktails in the evening. And just recently, the Red Fire Grille opened with lunch hours for the first time. Now we don’t have to wait till evening for people to visit the first floor of the hotel.

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You may have seen the new entry at the bottom of the window sign: Smooth Rock 93.5. The offices of this new FM station will be opening upstairs in Room 205, but the broadcast booth will be my new roommate in the gallery. This radio station, currently based in San Antonio, will be moving to Palestine this month, and launching their first broadcast August 1. The broadcast booth will occupy the south end of the gallery at the display window facing the street. Broadcasts will occur Monday through Friday, and I will work the gallery most weekends. But, with a college schedule of Tuesday-Thursday classes, I’ll be sure to spend some Fridays and Mondays inside the gallery so I can soak up the atmosphere of FM radio featuring Eric Clapton and other musicians of that genre. The radio has pledged aggressive advertising for the hotel, gallery, restaurant and bar, so naturally, we are all excited to welcome our new resident.

I arrived yesterday with my Jeep packed to the gills with all the art merchandise and furnishings from my festival last weekend. Once I unloaded everything into the gallery, it was time to begin work re-configuring the Gallery at Redlands to make room for our new residents. This involved moving the heavy desk from the site of the future broadcast booth to the front of the gallery near the lobby window. Then, we set up my Pro Panels to form a temporary wall separating the gallery from the broadcast area, but allowing passage on both sides from one space to the next.

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Redlands wall

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The gallery has a completely new, more intimate feel now.

Gallery window

The lobby of this historic hotel, dating from 1915, has been completely renovated, with offices removed and a large, open lounge area inviting people to relax in conversation, books, television, and drinks.

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The Redlands Hotel, dating from 1915, is a veritable time warp for me every time I enter the main hall, and I’m thrilled that the gallery is in this hall. When I climb those stairs to move into the suite that provides a luxurious dwelling, I feel I’m supposed to be wearing spats from the previous century, a vest with watch chain, and a fat cigar in my mouth.

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The Gallery at Redlands is open, on the right

These are truly exciting days in Palestine, Texas. For anyone reading this, I sincerely hope you will find the time to visit us at The Redlands Hotel on 400 N. Queen Street. The rooms are absolutely stunning, and the prices are very reasonable. The gallery is improving each week, and come August we will welcome FM 92.5 Smooth Rock to the premises. Unfortunately, I will be out of town when that occasion arises, and I hope I will be able to stream the inaugural broadcast on the Internet. I’m preparing to leave for the mountains for some exquisite time to paint and fly fish. I’ll return to the gallery in mid-August.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.