Archive for February, 2019

Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen

February 3, 2019

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Breakfast at the Dairy Queen in Palestine, Texas

Enjoying my weekend in Palestine and The Redlands Hotel, I was tipped off yesterday by Jean (owner of the hotel) to try out the local Dairy Queen for breakfast. This morning when I arrived and ordered the “country breakfast,” the counter girl asked me how I wanted my eggs. “Over easy?” I hesitatingly offered. And what to drink? “Coffee.” She handed me a real mug! And, a short while later, this was brought to me, on a real plate with real silverware.

I do not take meals at the Dairy Queen, but I still recall that the one outside Archer City, Texas serves breakfast this way, as a real American diner would. When I returned to The Gallery at Redlands, I decided that I need to acquire a copy of Larry McMurtry’s Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen. I understand that this collection of essays, autobiographical in nature, contain the author’s lament at the demise of story telling in American culture, and ways in which small American towns have been drained of their local charm. Though I live in Arlington, I have found far more of a fascinating world and culture in Palestine, Texas. I am truly blessed, granted time to spend in The Gallery at Redlands and reside in The Redlands Hotel and enjoy the music and camaraderie of Kevin and Marc at Smooth Rock 93.5 FM. As I write this, I am finishing a watercolor commission for a local author (I know of two authors that live in this vicinity), and the community is awash in musicians. Many of us have the same thing in common–growing up in small towns, working and raising families in large cities, then returning to these small towns to enjoy life at a lovelier pace.

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I Should Finish this One Today

After I finish this painting, I intend to read Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay “The Storyteller.” And who knows–I may just pick up a copy of McMurtry’s collection and see what I can glean from the reading.

Thanks for reading

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone. 

Night Life in Palestine

February 2, 2019

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Kevin Harris, Lighting Up the Night

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My Attempt to Sketch & Journal while Kevin Played

After spending most of the day painting in the gallery, I decided to drift over to a popular night spot and listen to Kevin Harris perform his acoustic set. I have enjoyed associating with Kevin since Smooth Rock 93.5 FM moved into the gallery with me last summer. As it turns out, Kevin is the quintessential soloist, and I should not have been surprised. Perhaps with more practice I can grow more comfortable sketching the human figure from life, but I’m not there yet. The night was cool and temperate, and the performance was outdoors. I guess Texas isn’t so bad in February.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Nearing the Finish of a Commission

February 2, 2019

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. . . some of the words you’ll find within yourself,

the rest some daemon will inspire you to say.

Homer, The Odyssey

While taking breaks from my painting to read from Homer’s Odyssey, I was arrested by these words Athena spoke to Telemachus when he feared that, as a youth, he did not know the proper words with which to address King Nestor. The reference to the daemon reminded me of a book I still haven’t completed reading: Allan Bloom’s The Daemon Knows. In this work, Bloom quotes an obscure reference from one of Emerson’s journals, claiming that the daemon knows where the idea is going to go. Throughout the work, Bloom extols the virtues of intuition and daring to go outside the box. He argues that we don’t know if our efforts will produce a work of genius. Nevertheless, we continue to push, continue to love the work.

I find all of this refreshing when I find myself struggling with a watercolor. With the one in progress above, I have encountered countless problems that I have not been schooled to address, and I have had to remain focused on the task. So far, nothing has happened to upset me, and the patron came in to look at it today and was pleased with the direction it is taking. Her sentiments freed me considerably, so now I am working on it with much more confidence. All the same, however, I still don’t really know what it is that makes a composition “work”, and I continue to feel this concern that I will make the wrong moves and the piece will “miss.” Even at this age, I must learn to trust my instinct and push onward.

This day has been a soothing balm, reading and painting in the gallery and greeting patrons. Soon, I’ll get to listen to my radio friend, Kevin Harris, perform a solo gig here in Palestine. Afterward, I plan to return and work late in the gallery, as the Red Fire Grille stays open late on Saturday night, and sometimes a good number of patrons come into the gallery. And who knows, maybe I’ll finish this painting tonight!

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog, reminding myself I am never alone.

 

 

Odyssean Wanderings

February 2, 2019

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Time Divided Between Painting and Reading

Why, dear child, what craziness got into your head?

Why bent on rambling over the face of the earth?

Homer, The Odyssey

Saturday morning finds me well-rested, and working in The Gallery at Redlands. My attention moves back and forth between a commissioned watercolor and the reading of Homer’s Odyssey. The reading always seems timely, as this morning I came across the passage of the elderly nurse grieving at the news that Telemachus was about to set sail to distant Sparta and Pylos in search of his father Odysseus. She wonders why he is bent on rambling.

As I am now composing my own memoir, imspired by Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, I acknowledge that I have always been a wanderer at heart, though I managed to hold down the same job for twenty-eight years. Still, I always had the urge to travel, and since retiring, that gift has been offered to me. Having spent a week in west Texas, I made the five-and-a-half hour drive home to spend a few days, and then found myself moving back and forth between Palestine and Arlington (two-hour drive), as I celebrated the birthday of a dear friend in Palestine, returned to Arlington to work as district Spelling Bee pronouncer for my twenty-fifth year, and then come back down to spend the rest of the weekend working in the gallery, my sacred space.

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Celebrating Ron Darr’s Birthday at the Red Fire Grille

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Gallery at Redlands with Smooth Rock 93.5 FM Broadcasting

The morning after Ron’s birthday celebration, we had fun meeting the Smooth Rock broadcasting team. Kevin and Marc welcomed my friends to the station and visited with them for a long stretch of the morning.  Driving back to Arlington, I rose early the next morning for a Spelling Bee, featuring two competitions that stretched from 8:30-3:30. When it was over, the children were exhausted as was I, and I still had a two-hour drive ahead of me, as I chose to return to The Gallery at Redlands to spend the weekend.

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Posing with One of the Champions

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Posing with a Co-Champion and his Sister who went Deep into the Competition

Outside, Palestine is dark and overcast–the perfect environment for coffee, books and painting, from my perspective. Tonight, Kevin Harris will be doing a solo acoustic gig at Bishops Barbecue. I look forward to attending that event. In the meantime, I plan to enjoy the Saturday calm in the gallery.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.