Archive for February, 2020

Re-Filling the Reservoir

February 14, 2020

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I could never imagine a better reception than what I experienced at yesterday’s Meet the Artist. I delivered my program at C C Young to introduce the audience to my show “Memories From a Small Town.” After much thought, I’ve decided to share it on my blog in its entirety. A powerpoint of the images accompanied my talk:

Memories From a Small Town

Antique Store

I am grateful to all of you who have traveled to see my body of artwork today. I also want to say a word to those of you in the audience who live here as well as those who work here. I hope during this month when you see my work that you can experience a feeling similar to looking through your own photo albums or cell phone pictures: to reawaken memories.

The most precious resource we carry with us throughout our days is the collection of memories we have made—memories that have made us. We have stories to re-live, to share, and my satisfaction in painting is telling those stories.

For about thirty years now, I have endeavored to paint small town America as relived through my childhood memories as well as viewed through my windshield while driving all over the Southwest and Midwest.

The celebrated French author Marcel Proust, in his expansive novel, urges that our senses have the power to transport us back to warm, primal memories from our childhood, memories that are worth holding on to. And we catch our breath when overtaken by these surprising moments. And we can never hold on to them; they evaporate as quickly as they arrive. But we are nevertheless grateful for that warm, yet brief, visitation.

Over the years I have collected my memories, written my stories and arranged my paintings into a collection I have titled “Turvey’s Corner.” This is a town I’ve made up, much like Garrison Keillor did with Lake Wobegon, Minnesota or Sherwood Anderson with Winesburg, Ohio. And I have created characters to tell the story of this American town.

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It seems I can never casually drive past an abandoned filling station without turning my Jeep around and returning to walk the premises and remember the sounds I knew from the 1950’s. Who would have guessed seventy years ago that the bell cables under the tires of our cars would fall silent one day, and men in work uniforms would stop dashing out of the station to service our cars? Who ever thought that the day would end that someone would walk up to a cigarette machine inside, poke in the coins, pull the knob and hear that package slap down in the tray?

jerrys texaco

I have written stories to accompany many of the paintings in this show. Here is the one for “Jerry’s Texaco”–

Over-worked and under-rested, the aging men of Turvey’s Corner began their early-morning drive to St. Louis, twenty-three miles down Highway 30. Around the first bend of the highway out of town, they found a welcoming stop at Jerry’s Texaco. Bell cables clanged as sedans rolled up to the gas pumps, and Steve, the young attendant, pushed aside his college books to hustle out and service the customers. The aroma of coffee brewing usually lured the men out of their cars and inside for scalding, stout coffee and the exchange of local news stories. Visits here always seemed to make the workday go a little better.

Requiem for the Fourth

He tasted the dry dust as he walked along the abandoned Route 66 thoroughfare, the hot August winds bending the roadside weeds. After twenty years away, he had resolved to return to Turvey’s Corner to see what remained. What he had not anticipated was his truck breaking down more than ten miles from the town he longed to see. Rounding yet another bend in the road and looking up at the weed-choked hill on his right, he felt his heart sink as he gazed upon what remained of the combination fireworks and souvenir shop. In the 1950’s, this establishment was one of the major draws for tourists crossing America via Route 66. Interstate 44 had managed to strangle and kill the few remaining businesses.

Pausing in silence, he felt a sense of loss as he gazed upon this relic barely peeking over the heads of the dancing weeds. But as he lingered, he slowly sensed a presence as he recalled the sounds that used to reverberate from this site. Station wagons pulling into the parking lot. Children squealing with ecstasy, leaping out of the cars to rush inside and explore. Later re-emerging, their arms laden with moccasins, beaded necklaces and tomahawks.

He recalled scenes from past Fourth of July seasons. Fathers pulling up in their cars on their way home from work. Tired from their labors, they seemed to reignite with fresh energy as they stepped inside to fill grocery sacks with Roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers and sparklers to take home to anticipating children.

The conflicting emotions of loss and presence flooded the man’s soul as he trudged past this scene on his way to a town he once knew.

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On a personal note, I am deeply grateful for dear patrons of mine who purchased this relic of a country store and moved it to their property in east Texas. Here is a photograph of the store. The reason it resonates with me is because I grew up in small towns where people lived in the backs of the small stores they owned. I always wished I could experience living in such a space.

Heideggers hut

These wonderful owners one day handed me the key to this store, offering it as a retreat from my home in the busy suburbs of our metroplex.

Heideggers Hut darkened and muted

I call it Heidegger’s Hut because the philosopher Martin Heidegger built a cabin in the Black Forest back in 1922 and frequently hiked the 11 miles there from his university post in the city. In this quiet refuge he wrote all his famous scholarly works, enjoying the quiet of the country. This is what I do now that I am retired and find more time on my hands for making art and thinking up new ideas.

doorknob in progress

As I sat inside the store, I was painting the doorknob behind the cash register that leads into the residential part of the store in back.

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I spent an entire night working on the door knob and titled it “Beyond the Door.”

store shelf in progress

After painting the door knob, I turned my attention to the items on the shelves and commenced painting them . . .

Memories from a Country Store

. . .  and stirring up old memories of country stores from my youth.

Oxbow General Store

While painting in this remote country store, I came up with the idea of painting the Oxbow which used to be a general store in Palestine, Texas, now a popular bakery. My gallery is located in Palestine, so I spend a great deal of time in that town. As I painted the store, I thought again of those Mom & Pop country stores with the residences in back. Here is the story I wrote:

Hank was alone again in the general store, resigned to the reality that he would be closing shop late again. He would have to bed down in the storeroom in back.  His college books remained on the small desk behind the counter. He had a class early the next morning, so, with the owner’s permission, he would spend another night in the back of the store.  The shop was anchored on historic Route 66 on the outskirts of Turvey’s Corner.  Interstate commerce had all but obliterated the sleepy town, and as soon as this fellow graduated from the community college, he would depart as well.  Local townspeople and patrons had no knowledge or regard for the things that stirred the soul of this young dreamer.  His volumes of Emerson, Frost, Whitman and Twain had opened to him worlds beyond this community.  He would be packing up his gear in a week and leaving without notice.  It was time to emerge from this cocoon and embrace the world that was calling out to him.

Finishing Fishing Memories  

And finally, I am still looking for an old shed to paint so I can add some stories to this painting. One night in my garage at home, I assembled this gear from my personal collection, hoping it would look like the illustrated story of a man who had lived many years. As I sat up all night working on it, this story came to me:

Fishing Memories resized

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.  They called him Old Ned, the Porch Front Philosopher of Turvey’s Corner. Now, they looked in silent sadness at his possessions standing like sentries in his chamber. Guarding the assembly from its high perch, the kerosene lantern called to memory nights spent on the Mississippi River dike, 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 his 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 Old Ned delighted in long road trips in his Dodge pickup to the Colorado Rockies where he would vanish 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 odysseys.

Old Ned 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.

I call my company Recollections 54 because my birthyear 1954 still anchors me to an era vanishing from our American landscape but not from our memory.

I thank you again for coming out to my show. I love talking about my art and could do that till you either fall asleep or walk away. I will not hold this audience captive, so let me just stay that I am remaining as long as there is anyone here to talk to, and would love to answer any questions you may have about my work.  Again, thank you for coming and God bless all of you.

. . . Today is Friday. I have nothing on my calendar the entire day. Searching for words to describe what I feel now seems futile. After weeks of focusing on yesterday’s presentation, I suddenly feel strange, not having an appointment to keep or a preparation to make. Now, having launched this blog, I’ll decide what to read next, what to write next, and best of all, determine that I will not schedule anything else this day. I’m thankful for quality time to fill the reservoir.

Thank you for reading. Please check out my website www.davidtrippart.com.

Shultz on website

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Reaching for that Point of Support

February 10, 2020

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He would think of it later, he thought; one moves step by step and one must keep moving. For the moment, with an unnatural clarity, with a brutal simplification that made it almost easy, his consciousness contained nothing but one thought: It must not stop me. The sentence hung alone, with no past and no future. He did not think of what it was that must not stop him, or why this sentence was such a crucial absolute. It held him and he obeyed. He went step by step. He completed his schedule of appointments, as scheduled.

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

The new week opened with a sprint for me this morning. I enjoyed quiet and rest for most of December and January, because I knew February’s brutal calendar. Tomorrow afternoon will begin the first of a two-day watercolor class I’ll teach at Show Me the Monet Gallery in Arlington, Texas. For $115 I’ll teach new students to paint a Texas longhorn. We’ll meet 2-5 Tuesday and again Saturday at the same time. If any of you are interested, please contact me at 817-821-8702, or the gallery at 817-313-6327.

On Thursday I will give my public presentation on “Memories from a Small Town” at C C Young Senior Living in Dallas during the Meet the Artist event at 3:30. My one-man-show of 33 watercolors now hangs there and will remain for the rest of this month. Meanwhile, I have finished a pair of commissions (pictured above) and have two more in the hopper that need to be completed.

I laugh at how often days of my life unwind like a bad novel. Waking this morning, early, I knew all the errands that had to be run today. But my dryer not functioning was not a part of my schedule. So, I smile now as I sit at a coin laundry, drying a load of wash, using my smart phone to tap out this blog . . . I anticipate that come nightfall I will be able to slow down the pace. Until tomorrow.

Reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand a moment ago, I was arrested by the musings of a woman who struggled to find “her only point of reassurance in a world dissolving around her.” I closed the book and thought of that sinking feeling one gets when wondering what really matters in life, paticularly when circumstances in our current society appear so disjointed and threatening. The text reminded me of Thoreau’s point d’appui that he discussed in Walden:

Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe . . . till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin, having a point d’appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely . . . 

Point d’appui is translated “point of support.” Thoeau’s quest for a firm foundation to life has profoundly haunted my life for over thirty years now. While relaxing in the quiet residence of an old country store yesterday I pondered my own point d’appui and found satisfaction in the reality that I am alive. This life alone is a gift. I find happiness in the knowledge that I can create. Create art. And create meeting for my life. I recall years ago reading Nietzsche’s meditations when he concluded that his life had no meaning, contained no inherent meaning. He concluded that he could create meaning for his own life, since it was not given. Following that notion, I continue my own quest to carve out a niche in this life where I can be myself and pursue actions I believe are important.

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Yesterday’s Refuge before Today’s Storm

The clothes are ready to come out of the dryer, and I am ready to chase today’s appointments. So until later . . .

Thanks for reading.

Shultz reduced

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Return to Heidegger’s Hut

February 9, 2020

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Pre-Dawn at my Favorite Hideaway

At most a city-dweller gets “stimulated” by a so-called “stay in the country.” But my whole work is sustained and guided by the world of these mountains and their people. Lately from time to time my work up there is interrupted by long stretches at conferences, lecture trips, committee meetings and my teaching work down here in Freiburg. But as soon as I go back up there . . . I am simply transported into the work’s own rhythm, and in a fundamental sense I am not in control of its hidden law. People in the city often wonder whether one gets lonely up in the mountains among the peasants for such long and monotonous periods of time. But it isn’t loneliness, it is solitude. . . . Solitude has the peculiar and original power of not isolating us but projecting our whole existence out into the vast nearness of the presence of all things.

Martin Heidegger, “Why Do I Stay in the Provinces?”

I don’t recall how long it has been since I have stayed in this old country store that my dear friends have made available for my visits. My art and public speaking endeavors have managed to pack my calendar, even in retirement, to the point that I seem to spend most of my time in the city and sleeping in the suburbs. But I arrived well after dark last night, driving nearly three hours from the city, and stood outside, looking at the surrounding pastureland illuminated by the snow moon that lighted my way down the dirt road on my final stretch.

I set my alarm for 6:00 this morning, so I could rise while still dark and enjoy the sun rising over the deep forest that borders the east of this property. The lowing of the Angus herd to the south of the store was a soothing sound to me as I looked out the door of this bedroom and saw the herd moving to the barn in anticipation of feeding time.

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Making Their Way to the Barn

I read this morning that philosopher Martin Heidegger often chose to walk the eleven miles from Freiburg to Todtnauberg in the Black Forest where he built his cabin for the purpose of getting away from city and university life. In the quote above, he favored the preposition unten (below) to describe city life, and oben (above) depicting life at the cabin. So much he loved the cabin life that he turned down the chair of philosophy at University of Berlin in 1934. All his best writing was done in the seclusion of this cabin.

I feel that much of my best work, in writing and especially in painting, was done in this remote store where I just don’t seem to find enough time to dwell. In this morning’s pre-dawn, I spent sacred time poring over the Greek text of Homer’s Odyssey and felt the rush of excitement I knew long ago in seminary days when I translated from the Greek New Testament, uncovering layers of meaning as I lingered over those words inscribed in the ancient past.

Having excavated these words from over 2700 years ago, I am now choosing to translate the opening line of the Odyssey as follows:

Describe to me, Muse, this multi-layered man who experienced a great many directional changes in his wanderings.

What a penetrating statement that all of us can relate to our own experiences. Our lives are a journey, an odyssey, filled with twists and turns. These experiences shape every one of us, chiseling us with so many facets that make us unique. Every one of us is a work of art (Greek poiēma from which we get “poem”), fashioned by our own unique experiences.

Temperatures are expected to rise to 72 where I am today. If that is the case, then I’ll be able to take my art outdoors and enjoy painting under natural light. Meanwhile, I wish to post the paintings made in this store in years past that I still count among my favorites. All of them are featured in my one-man-show now open at C C Young Senior Living in Dallas. Next Thursday, I will give an oral presentation during the Meet the Artist event there at 3:30. I hope any of you within the area will be able to attend. I would love to spend time with you.

Heideggers Hut darkened and muted

Heidegger’s Hut

crockett

Beyond the Door

Memories from a Country Store

Memories from a Country Store

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.

New Watercolor Class Offered

February 8, 2020

Texas-Longhorn2

I am pleased to invite any of you interested to take a two-day watercolor class with me next week.

No prior experience is necessary, and all materials are provided. Our subject will be the Texas longhorn.

The class will meet Tuesday, Feb. 11 from 2-5, and again Saturday, Feb 15 from 2-5 to finish the project. Cost for the two-day class will be $110.

Our location will be the new gallery in Arlington, Texas, Show Me the Monet, located at 4720 S. Cooper St. in the Gracie Lane store. If you are interested, please contact the gallery at (817) 313-6327 or you may phone me at (817) 821-8702.

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.

Installation of my New Show

February 1, 2020

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The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or perchance a palace or temple on the earth, and at length the  middle-aged man concludes to build a wood-shed with them.

Henry David Thoreau

Again, the wit of Thoreau draws a laugh from deep inside me. I am deeply appreciative of the many years granted for this earthly wandering, and laugh now when I recall grandiose dreams from my youth that remained only that–dreams. However, in one aspect of my life, I have enjoyed success–I have managed to hold on to the passion for making art and have amassed a large body of work that illustrates my journey.

Today, my one-man-show “Memories from a Small Town” opens in the Point & Pavilion at C C Young Senior Living in Dallas. I managed to hang the show last evening. The printer at the facility is waiting repairs, so hopefully the labels they created for the paintings will be installed on Monday. But the show is up, and I am grateful now for this Saturday of leisure. The past week has been exhausting beyond measure, getting things ready for this event.

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Installation in Progress

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Waiting for Labels to be Installed Monday

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Thirty-three watercolors have been selected to hang, illustrating images from small town life as well as the great outdoors. Because the venue is an assisted living facility, my genuine hope is for the residents to experience the same feeling looking at this show as they know when flipping through a photo album. I wish for my memories to invoke similar ones of their own. Last night, I got the feeling that this could happen, as quite a group of residents gathered to peruse the works as they were being hung. I enjoyed overhearing a number of the observations being made as the viewers shared stories from their past. I call my company Recollections 54 because that is my birth year and I have tried throughout recent decades to focus on subjects from 1950’s America. The husks and shells of those buildings and vehicles are gradually fading from our landscape, but not from my memory.

On February 13 at 3:30, I will present a powerpoint lecture in the facility and remain to answer questions and greet those who attend. If you are in the vicinity, I hope to see you. Here is the link to the facility:

https://www.ccyoung.org/the-point-pavilion

Thanks for reading. I hope you will check out my website at 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.