Archive for May, 2021

Dawn in Studio Eidolons

May 24, 2021
Early Morning in Studio Eidolons

Motherwell’s varied imagery was a product of his complex, anguished inner being, and also an expression of his deeply held convictions about the nature of reality, which he believed to contain not a single truth but many relative truths, which could be only partially revealed and not explained. This is reflected in his fascination with the idea that the ancient Greeks had no word for truth. As he told an interviewer, “Socrates says something and it’s translated, What you say is true Socrates.” But as Motherwell pointed out, the Greek word was aletheia, which meant revealed, or hidden. “And so a literal translation,” he noted, “would be you’ve unhidden that point, Socrates.”

Jack Flam, “Introduction: Robert Motherwell at Work,” volume one Robert Motherwell: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1941-1991.

5:37 a.m.–the dogs dragged me back to consciousness. Something triggers inside them, telling them it is time to eat, and they immediately pounce on me. This is good though. I retired early to bed last night thinking of what I could do when I return to my studio vacated since the middle of last week. I love being back in the space where I can pursue creative eros. By the time I entered this morning, the light was just breaking, and I felt my breathing change.

While making Cowboy Coffee, my eyes lighted on the three-volume Catalogue Raisonné I purchased for myself as a retirement gift four years ago. Re-opening it over coffee, I decided to re-read portions I had marked (and forgotten), and came across the thought-provoking passage quoted above.

We acknowledge that we are complex individuals. The longer we live, the more we seek understanding of our complexities. We reach for an explanation, pattern or key phrase to encapsulate our persona.

Early in life I sought role models. Later, wishing to find myself rather than copy the character of others, I looked upon my assembly of heroes as templates, finding pieces of my own life amidst the collage of attributes among them. I turned to Robert Motherwell this morning, not because of his artistic style (of which I share little-to-nothing), but because of his lifelong struggle to balance a life of art and scholarship. Art Digest labeled Motherwell as “one of today’s most thinking painters.” He was frequently criticized for teaching and publishing instead of focusing all his time on developing as a painter.

I laid down my brush for a decade to study theology at a seminary. Once I emerged from the halls of academia, I entered the teaching field. Within a year of teaching, I once again picked up the brush, hungry to make art again, but never able to walk away from the books. Motherwell is my friend, because I see in him a complete man who never apologized for pursuing both worlds–art and scholarship. Art feeds my scholarship and scholarship feeds my art. At this age, I make no apology for living a life of the mind.

This morning’s reading brought my attention again to this notion of “truth.” Learning Greek years ago in seminary, I knew the word translated “truth” (aletheia), but never paid attention to its etymology till late one night (in that wonderful rustic general store in the east Texas wilderness) reading Martin Heidegger’s notes on the pre-socratic Heraclitus. It was then that I learned the word (aletheia), often rendered “truth”, is better translated “unforgetting, revelation, uncovering, or discovery.” The word “lethe” we know from the River of Lethe. It means “forget”. The prefix “a” (alpha privative) is the negation, hence “the un-forgetting.” Continuing with Motherwell:

“In that sense, I wish the word truth didn’t exist. Because one of the reasons I’ve been able to move all over the place is I take that for granted. Everybody has his own revelations, but the mass of the totality has never been revealed to anybody.”

I am going to try in my future to redefine this notion of “truth” that has been misused and understood throughout my life. The word denotes an uncovering, a revealing, a reminder (un-forgetting), a discovery.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to UNCOVER (seek the truth).

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Gallery at Redlands Features Kevin Harris Tonight

May 22, 2021
Musician Kevin Harris from 7-9 tonight at Gallery at Redlands

We are a tongued folk. A race of singers. Our lips shape words and rhythms which elevate our spirits and quicken our blood.

Maya Angelou, Order out of Chaos

Morning Watch in The Redlands Hotel

To live in recollection is the most perfect life imaginable; recollection is more richly satisfying than all actuality, and it has a security that no actuality possesses.

Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Awake since 6:30, my favorite part of weekends is sitting in the morning light from our second-story room in the historic Redlands Hotel and looking through the fire escape railings at the magnificent Carnegie Library across the street. How I wish I could have lived here in the days when that was a functioning public library! Words fail me when I try to describe the vibe of living in a railroad hotel built in 1914 and look out the windows upon a city steeped in history.

Tonight will be our second and final night of a Major Sale including art from The Gallery at Redlands as well as additonal work brought in for the sale. I always look forward to gallery nights and the public, but frankly, all I can think about this morning is the luxury of hearing Kevin Harris perform this evening. It has been too long. If you have not heard the sonorous, soulful voice of Kevin, accompanied by his amazing guitar skills, you won’t want to miss tonight’s two-hour event. Earlier this morning, I read Kierkegaard’s sentiment that words are too heavy and clumsy to describe effectively the quality of live music. Indeed. I am always tongue-tied when trying to tell people the effect Kevin’s voice has had on me since the days I shared space in this gallery with his radio station Smooth Rock 93.5 FM. Just the sound of him talking through the morning show had the power to remove any sting of anxiety or unpleasant thoughts I was experiencing. But when I heard him perform for the first time, I realized that his musicianship was just as overpowering as his conversation. So please, if you are in the area, stop by The Redlands Hotel tonight from 7-9. We are at 400 N. Queen Street, Palestine, Texas.

Kierkegaard’s quote above regarding recollection stirred me over morning coffee. My company is called Recollections 54, acknowledging my birth year and my body of art work that comprises my personal recollections of an America that embraced me during my early childhood in the fifties. My recollections of small-town America are filled with images of scenes dying out as history adds new chapters. These scenes are disappearing from our vision but not our memories.

My recollections from this morning have chosen to focus on the good memories, not the disappointments. And thinking back over the past four years spent with this town and its people fills me with gratitude. This community has been a veritable retirement gift for me. I continue to lean forward in anticipation of new friendships and new experiences.

Thank you for reading. We hope to see you tonight.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Saturday Morning Preparations for Big Art Sale

May 21, 2021

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo

Good morning! It’s 11:33 and I’ve finally stopped for my first cup of gallery coffee. Sandi and I hit the gallery at noon yesterday and have been unpacking stacks of framed paintings, matted paintings, limited edition giclées, open-edition prints and greeting cards discounted for our first Major Art Sale in the lobby. Stacy Campbell has offered her entire display of original black-and-white acrylic canvases at 15% off.

Artist Stacy Campbell’s “I Like Your Willie!” 36 x 36″ acrylic on canvas–this weekend only $420

I have also decided to mark one of my original framed watercolors down 40% for this sale.

David Tripp, “Thinking About the Next Catch” 29h x 25w” framed–this weekend only $500

As we near the two-month anniversary of taking ownership of The Gallery at Redlands, I cannot say that I have yet settled into this new identity. Sandi is far ahead of me in thinking about events and calendar planning. We decided a couple of weeks ago that the gallery needed to host some kind of event every evening, something more to say to the public than merely “we’re open this weekend.” As for our gallery hours, we arrive every Thursday at noon and the gallery is open 10-2 and 5-9 Thursday through Saturday. Cecilia Bramhall has been good to work for us in the earlier days, but we’re still trying to find out what hours work best, mornings or evenings. We’ll let you know once we’re settled on that.

(left to right) Stacy Campbell, John Westerhold, Wayne White

New artist John Westerhold just arrived with new work to put on sale. His work is the center one in the window above: “Reflections of a Fat Boy”, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48″ $8500

John Westerhold, “Untitled” Framed Acrylic 15h x 12w $350
John Westerhold “Untitled” Framed Acrylic 12h x 15w” $350

Patrons continue to come in the gallery (3 hours later), so I need to close this and get back to the task.

Thanks for reading!

First Major Art Sale at The Gallery at Redlands

May 20, 2021

Sandi and I have arrived for a great weekend in Palestine, Texas! Friday and Saturday night from 7 to 9 p.m. we will host our first major Art Sale, with steep discounts on select art in the lobby. On Saturday night, radio personality and musician Kevin Harris will perform live during our event.

If you are in the area, please drop by and visit us. You will not want to miss this spectacular event!

New Happenings at The Gallery at Redlands

May 17, 2021
New Window Display (left to right): Stacy Campbell, John Westerhold and Tommy Thompson

“Personally,” de Kooning said, “I do not need a movement.” And that personal feeling had a way of suggesting a new kind of movement.

Jed Perl, New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century

After the excitement of Saturday night’s Art Talk in our gallery, followed by the next day’s drive home in a Texas Monsoon, I needed a day of down time before returning to talk about what’s happening at The Redlands Hotel.

Saturday night featured our second round of art discussions in The Gallery at Redlands, and the event didn’t disappoint. Elaine Jary and Grace Hessman made their trips into town, and their personal accounts of how the muse drives them to make art warmed me to the core. We were surprised also at the arrival of our latest artist, John Westerhold, driving in from Fairfield with his first piece of work to enter into our gallery display. We decided immediately to install it in the streetside window so people outside could see it when they drive by. Most viewers think the Harley image is an airbrushed photo, but no, it is an acrylic on canvas painting!

There is something very special in the air in Palestine, and it involves creative spirits gathering to display their work and hold public discussions. We will be letting you know what is coming down the pike in weekends ahead. We are not satisfied with the mere announcement that “We Are Open this Weekend.”

Next Friday and Saturday evenings, 7-9:00, we will have gallery selections reduced in price and placed on tables and easels in the lobby–our first Art Sale. On Saturday at the same time, local radio personality and musician Kevin Harris will be playing his acoustic guitar and singing in the lobby. You won’t want to miss that event! Members of The Twelve will be in attendance both nights so you can meet them personally and know more about the work they create.

I cannot recall a more satisfying and fulfilling time in my personal and professional life. There is something in the air here, and I believe it will continue to develop into something special. These artists at The Gallery at Redlands really have a story to share. I’m just proud to be among them.

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.

Relaxing Between Gallery Talks

May 15, 2021
Completed Watercolor of Palimpsest

“The Club was always misunderstood. We didn’t want to have anything to do with art. We just wanted to get a loft, instead of sitting in those goddamned cafeterias.”

Willem de Kooning, interview with James T. Valliere in Partisan Review.

Willem de Kooning and the Greenwich Village artists of the 1940’s finally chipped in their hard-eaerned money to rent a loft near the Rikers hamburger joint and Cedar Tavern where they used to gather for discussions. 39 East Eighth Street is now mentioned with reverence in art history as the Eighth Street Club. They were glad to leave the cafeterias and bars in favor of having their own space for creative discussion.

For years I have longed for a special place to gather with kindred spirits to discuss ideas. My last place was a La Madeleine restaurant in north Arlington, and I still cherish memories of time spent there with other artists before COVID closed things down. Elaine Jary, one of The Twelve, participated in those talks, and I’m happy that she now is heading to Palestine to chat with us this evening.

The Gallery at Redlands is now a haven for The Twelve along with anyone else wishing to gather with us for serious discussion of the creative life. We are not a Club; the door is open, even if you only wish to listen in. Last night was our first scheduled gathering, the next is tonight at 6:00. We only plan to discuss an hour. Last night we went two. I’ll say this at the outset–anyone wishing to depart early is free to do so. No one is constrained to stay the hour, or leave after an hour.

I am still dizzy with the memories of last night. Painters Cecilia Bramhall and Kathy Lamb attended along with theater director/playwright John Lamb, radio disc jockey and musician Kevin Harris, and creative social media experts Wayne and Celia Polster. I finally had to snatch up my journal and begin scribbling, because the ideas were so electric I feared I would forget some of them in the days following.

In the heat of the discussion, John suddenly had a flash of inspiration for a new play, and he could already see the set design and hear the dialogue among the characters in the plot. It is going to involve artists, and we are ecstatic to see how this one develops.

Kevin, Celia and Wayne simply smoked me with all their ideas and insights on ways to use media to bring the spotlight to Palestine, revealing this city as a genuine creative arts hub. Throughout the discussion, all I could see in my mind’s eye was a reincarnation of the spirit of the Eighth Street Club which would usher in the era of Abstract Expression and wrestle the art capital of the world title from Paris, transferring it to New York City. We already have The Twelve. Now we are expanding our circle as we listen to the ideas of musicians, dramatists, writers and creative media experts.

Sandi and I still have our home in Arlington, Texas, but we love spending Thursday through Saturday working in The Gallery at Redlands here in Palestine. And for the past four years, I have enjoyed individuals dropping in for an informal visit, this door is always open. But finally I am happy to offer opportunities for gathering the way we did last night. Tonight at 6:00 Elaine Jary will join us, travelling all the way from Bedford, Texas, and Grace Hessman from nearby Elkhart will be here as well. Anyone else is welcome as well.

It has been my dream for years to have a special place to gather and dream with other creative spirits without fear of rejection or ridicule. So, if you hunger for this kind of communion, please join us tonight. And as for the future, we will be advertising our schedule for further Gatherings 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.

Mornings that begin with painting are better than those that do not

May 7, 2021
Friday Morning in The Gallery at Redlands
Two of my Favorite Writers, Whitman and Ginsberg watch me with encouragement

I force my mind to become self-absorbed and not let outside things distract it. There can be absolute bedlam without so long as there is no commotion withn.

Seneca

As the hour nears noon, I look back on the serene Friday morning that is nearing its end. Conversations with artists, friends and Redlands Hotel staff and owners have been scattered and pleasant, and with the gallery door open, the steady sounds of people checking in and out, entering and exiting the Queen Street Grille, along with the occasional sound of Union Pacific locomotives booming through town two blocks away mingle in a relaxed ambient sound for me. Seneca spoke of the continual street noise around the Roman bath houses in his day, urging that they did not prevent him from his daily Stoic morning musings. I feel the same way when I’m in the midst of a Palestine weekday morning. I love the sounds of a world waking up and going to work all about me as I tend to the tasks in The Gallery at Redlands. Watercoloring at the drafting table has been a good experience, and now I’m settling in to read for awhile.

I’m happy to announce that next weekend, May 14-15, we will launch the beginning of our series of Gallery Talks with members of The Twelve. This next Friday at 6:00, the public is invited to hear from local artists Cecilia Bramhall, Kathy and John Lamb as well as myself. Saturday at the same time will feature Grace Hessman, Elaine Cash Jary and me again. The artists are looking forward to sharing their ideas of what inspires them to create, what they are working on at present, and what they hope to see happening in the future as we work to raise our profile among the East Texas communities. We are anticipating a good time together and hope in the future to make this a regularly sechedule event so the public can enjoy intimate conversations with members of The Twelve. The Gallery at Redlands is working on a calendar of events so we can soon have more to say about our weekends than the simple declaration “We’re open”.

Making progress this morning

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.

New Thoughts from The Gallery at Redlands

May 6, 2021
Writing at the Desk
View from the Lobby of The Redlands Hotel
You moved out from the city?

              I don't blame you.

              In a world where they can split a tiny atom...

              and blow up hundreds of thousands of people...

              there's no telling where it's all gonna lead.

              Best to find a quiet place...

              do what you have to do.

From the motion picture “Pollock” (2000)

Seated once again in my quiet place inside The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas, I was reading some engaging material from New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century. Artist Willem de Kooning and artist/psychologist John Graham are engaging my attention at this time. Chapter Two, “The Dialectical Imagination”, discusses the various tensions the artists of Manhattan addressed concerning art as well as life in general. The world view of the most well-known creative spirits of that day believed they were living in a world divided. From John Graham:

Vulgarly speaking, time marches on and the machine-age and consequently the collective age is asserting itself from the two opposite ends of the globe. Picasso is the last vestige of hand-made art. It is the swan song to the glories of the past and the apprehension of the future for there is nothing more terrifying than the unknown.

Though I’ve been a practicing artist much longer, I have only engaged in the art market about twenty-or so years, but I have kept my ear to the ground the entire time, listening to the discussions of where art is going, where the business is going, and the role of technology and a changing ethos amidst it all. My observations on this are too extensive for a single-blog assessment, but I still want to say a few things about how I perceive things today in the art world.

First, I have been told since the year 2000 that galleries are no longer the way for an artist to go if s/he wants to make a real splash in the market. The same has been said about art festivals. Being now sixty-seven years of age, I have always known I would cut back on the festivals. There was a day when I attended an annual average of ten or so. This year I will probably have only two, but I anticipate them to be well worth the effort of travel, set up and break down. As for galleries, I never intended to quit them and seek online avenues for selling my work. Of course, retiring from teaching I have benefit of a pension and fortunately am not a starving artist; I’ll do fine even if I sell nothing.

Second, I never anticipated becoming a gallerist, and after three months am still in shock that I’ve landed this role. Balancing my life between making and selling my own art and maintaining a gallery business is still unusual for me, and I cannot say I have yet found my stride. We’re just fortunate that The Gallery at Redlands is still doing quite well. There doesn’t seem to be any fading of the honeymoon period yet. As time goes on, I will most likely have more to say about the gallery business, but it’s still too new for me to assess (I’m still glad to be in it!).

John Graham’s quote above contrasts the machine-age with the collective age. He also divides history from prospect, and in another passage cleaves asunder the societal and private lives of the creative person. I think what is weighing most heavily on my mind today is this last split–the public and the private sides of the one trying to make art.

Though three decades of my life have been public with education, and another decade with the ministry, I believe I have always been far more introverted than extroverted. I was never afraid to speak in public or represent any particular view in public. But I have always felt much more contented in the private moments. As a minister and as a teacher, I always longed for the quiet moments of introspection in the study or studio much more than the times to stand and deliver in the public arena. The same is true now in the gallery. I love meeting the public, selling to the public and conversing with the public. But I am always grateful for times like now, with this laptop, as well as time spent in books, time spent writing, and times at the drafting table (the drafting table is to my left and will be visited as soon as this blog is finished).

The quote from the 2000 Pollock motion picture that opens this blog floods my memory now. In that scene, Pollock has just moved to Springs on Long Island to get away from New York City and his constant drinking, quarreling and fighting. After Pollock entered the country store, the proprietor acknowledged the stranger and uttered those words posted above. Over the past four years, I have replayed that episode every time I saw Arlington, Texas in my rearview mirror while en route to Palestine, Crockett or any other East Texas venue for a weekend or full week. The metroplex was never able to hold me the way the small towns and countryside do. And though Palestine, Texas numbers 18,000 in population, there are never 18,000 people standing about me; there is always space and quiet for me to thrive in what I like to do best.

I am grateful every day for the lives and work of The Twelve, the collection of artists whose works now give The Gallery at Redlands life. We have decided to gather for informal gallery talks and see if the community would like to hear what some of us have to say. We find it unfortunate that we never got to gather during the weekend of our gallery opening. There was just too much to do, and before we realized it, the weekend was over and everyone split to go back to their respective cities. We’re trying to correct that.

Next Friday and Saturday evening at six (May 14th-15th), a few of us will gather to discuss our art and our views. The gallery will be open for business and the public is invited to join us in conversation of peruse the art we have on all the walls and tables. We will be open for business as usual, the only change will be conversations filling the air. I wish it were happening this weekend; I cannot wait to visit with these creative spirits, and hope you will join us as well. More details to follow . . .

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.

Continued Work on “Palimpsest”–Measure Twice. Cut Once

May 3, 2021

palimpsest

noun

a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Home again in Studio Eidolons, I’m finally rested and refreshed and ready to return to painting. I did maage to get some work done over the weekend in The Gallery at Redlands on this building I discovered in Little Rock, covered with ghost signs. I am thinking about titling it “Palimpsest” because the layers of signage from early 19th to mid-20th century remided me of my earlier years of seminary studies when poring over photo facsimiles of ancient biblical palimpsest pages.

Ghost signs have been my passion for many years, and my dear friends the Darrs just gave me a very fitting birthday gift, an out of print book, Ghost Signs: Brick wall Signs in America, by William Stage an amazing author and photographer with a background in philosophy. I am nearly finished reading the entire text and am deeply touched by this statement from art critic John Brod Peters:

On ancient, peeling brick walls, these fading signs are the dying whispers of another age.

Reading that, I felt the hairs raising on the nape of my neck. This particular building in Little Rock, Arkansas is the 1891 O’Bryan building. The orginal painted advertisements were covered by an adjoining building in 1915. When the newer building was torn down in the 1980’s, the ads were visible again. The Coca-Cola ad barely shows beneath the Tom Moore cigar ad.

Studio Eidolons in the Morning

The day in studio has been soothing, and the watercolor is now slowing down considerably. The old adage “Measure twice. Cut Once” is in play as I spend more time staring at every square inch of detail than actual painting. The mortar seams in the brick work are slowing me down as is the parking lot and sidewalk just barely begun. When I am this deep in a painting, I tend to tighten up and sometimes lose the freshness and spontaneity that I love to see. I’m glad there is no deadline for this piece.

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.

Back in the Saddle!

May 1, 2021

It has been about two weeks since I have picked up a brush. I brought this watercolor with me to the gallery on Thursday and now finally, FINALLY I get to return to it during some Quiet Moments of this Saturday night in the Gallery at Redlands.

I wanted to take a moment to share with my readers the way the gallery has shaped up since we returned:

It is a soothing feeling to be painting once again. And everytime I look up from my work at all this beauty surrounding me I wonder what on Earth I have done to land in such a lovely place.

I am excited to announce that members of The Twelve will soon be joining me during select Friday and Saturday evenings for gallery talks with the public invited. We hope one day to create a stir comparable to that of Willem de Kooning and the Abstract Expressionists at the Cedar Bar in Greenwich Village in the mid-twentieth century. Our goal is to raise our profile at The Gallery at Redlands and stir up excitement for art in Palestine and East Texas.

Please come join us in this adventure. More information to come!