Prepping for the One-Man-Show

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Arrangement of the Selected Paintings

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Quiet Winter Morning for Planning

Seated by the fire on this cold winter Sunday morning, I find myself bathed in this spirit of well-being, this eudaimonia. My one-man-show opens February 1 at CC Young assisted living facility in Dallas, Texas, a beautiful campus that features an artist every month, booked a year in advance. As the day draws nearer, my pulse quickens.

I have selected thirty-three framed watercolors to hang in the show. Sitting here with coffee, poring over the images, I feel the same sentiments expressed in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged describing the steel magnate witnessing the first pouring of his new alloy developed over the past ten years:

He did not think of the ten years. What remained of them tonight was only a feeling which he could not name, except that it was quiet and solemn. The feeling was a sum, and he did not have to count again the parts that had gone to make it. But the parts, uncalled, were there, within the feeling. They were the nights spent at scorching ovens in the research laboratory of the mills . . . the nights spent in the workshop of his home, over sheets of paper which he filled with formulas, then tore up in angry failure . . . (Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged)

My watercolor show spans the last ten years of my life, and I too have this broad feeling of tranquility which is the sum of ten years’ worth of parts or episodes. Gazing at the images floods me with the same kind of memories one knows when flipping the pages of a photo album or scanning the images on a phone. I love the immediacy one experiences when looking at visual art, compared to the time lapse when observing other media. To experience the full impact of an artist’s expression, the observer has to wait to get to the end of a story, poem, movie or song. But with visual art, the effect is instantaneous, and as I look over the pictures, the memories wash over my consciousness.

Fishing Memories upright resized

“He is No Longer Here”

he is no longer here

This image takes me back seven years. I took the photo February 10, 2013 while working on this still life in my Man Cave (garage) 😊 with a space heater at my feet and hot cup of coffee and thermos at my elbow. As I worked on the piece, a story formed in my mind, and I stopped in the middle of the work to write out what I was thinking:

When the neighbors hammered the padlock off the deceased man’s fishing shed, they peered inside the darkened room with sadness at the world of memories their dear friend had left behind.  Guarding the assembly from its high perch, the kerosene lantern called to memory nights spent on the Mississippi River dikes, waiting for catfish that would find their way to the Griswold skillet.  The Canada Dry crate was the old fisherman’s stool for the nightlong vigils.

Bass fishing featured the Garcia Mitchell open-faced reel and the vintage wooden plugs for the area lakes and ponds.  In his retirement years, fly fishing took over, and the old man delighted in long road trips in his Dodge pickup to the Colorado Rockies where he would not be heard from for weeks at a time. The battered suitcase was his lifelong road companion, as was the dark leather knapsack purchased from an old leather shop on the dusty streets of Athens during his European excursions. 

The old man had not been heard from for more than a week, and the inquiring neighbors were saddened to enter his home and find him in his final resting place—his favorite recliner in the small front room of the ramshackle house.  His cup was still half-filled with the Dining Car Coffee he relished throughout his years working on the Frisco railroad.  Now, only his possessions remained to tell his life’s story.

Heideggers hut

Memories of my Favorite Hideaway

On October 20, 2016, I retreated to my favorite getaway, the remnants of a country store in rural east Texas. The dear friends who own the property have granted me access for quiet “away” time. On this particular morning, I was working on a painting of the door behind the cash register. Beyond the door are a kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom. The former store owners lived behind their business and now I am thankful to be allowed to reside here when I need to take some days away from the city.

crockett

“Beyond the Door”

Heideggers Hut darkened and muted

“Heidegger’s Hut”

I have named this old store/residence Heidegger’s Hut. German philosopher Martin Heidegger built a cabin in the Black Forest in 1927 because he did not enjoy Berlin though he taught at the university there. He frequently retreated to this cabin, a rustic facility with no electricity, and in this enclave away from the city noise he wrote all his famous books and essays. This special country store is my favorite retreat from the bustle of suburban and city life. To this day, I believe some of my best work was done in the quiet of this environment, away from the public school and university where I divided my work time until 2017.

In 2015, I was honored to inaugurate the Artist-in-Residence program for Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. This island university built a field station on the Texas Laguna Madre and transported me there by boat to live for a week, observe the surroundings, keep a blog, and create a body of watercolors. My memories this morning include nights spent in my studio prepping for this residency, and then the special moment when I discovered a new technique for painting grasses while on the island.

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Planning my Residency

text on Durer grasses

Experiments in a New Technique

Like the character in the novel, I have enjoyed this morning of quiet, thinking over some of the highlights of the last decade of my life that have made possible the show coming up in a week. This show has been titled “Memories from a Small Town” and will be presented in eight sections–small town, country store, filling station, church & institution, railroad, stately residence, abandoned property and the great outdoors. I have been asked to present a public talk and powerpoint presentation February 13 during the Meet the Artist event. The show will hang for the duration of February, and I hope any of you within driving distance will come and view it.

Thanks for reading and please check out my website www.davidtrippart.com

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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