Archive for September, 2021

Local Artist Cecilia Bramhall Demonstrates in The Gallery at Redlands

September 28, 2021
Cecilia Bramhall in the Gallery at Redlands

Palestine artist Cecilia Bramhall will be the new face of The Gallery at Redlands the next pair of weekends. Saturday from 10-5:00 she will be set up with her easel, working in oils inside the gallery. Cecilia loves meeting new people, and will delight in visiting with patrons as she works. A large display of her newest work will also be assembled in the lobby window of the gallery as well as in the front spaces. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to meet her. Cecilia will also occupy the gallery all day the following Saturday, October 9, while I am set up at the Edom Art Festival.

Cecilia did not pursue art until she was in her forties, though the passion to create hounded her from her youth. Her misfortune was the negative criticism she received from her high school art instructor, a sad story I encounter too many times when talking to artists who have found success in their later adult years. The negative high school experience convinced her that she lacked the talent for art though she was possessed with the passion. At Texas A&M University, Cecilia chose Biomedical Science as her major and graduated with a Bachelor of Science with pride, though she still wished to pursue the arts.

Cecilia’s fortune changed dramatically in 2009 when she discovered the Cordovan Art School in Round Rock, Texas. The owner and teacher of the school, John Howell, proved to be the inspirational mentor she wished she had known in her high school years. Mr. Howell encouraged her to pursue oil painting, convincing her that she had the skill, the focus, and most importantly the desire and confidence to develop. Her skill set improved dramatically in the coming years as Mr. Howell challenged her to avoid pencil and charcoal, approaching the canvas directly and confidently with the paint brush. Throughout her nine years at Cordovan, Cecilia is most grateful for this direct method of oil painting and now acknowledges that she has no choice but to create.

Residing in the country outside Palestine, Cecilia thrives in her converted barn, renamed Tin Roof Studio. Her daily routine is a genuine romance, similar to stories we read of Jackson Pollock at Springs, Long Island, walking out of the kitchen to take a couple of dozen steps across the property to enter the studio with spacious windows open to the light that inspires her to create afresh nearly every day. This artist is so possessed with the act of creation that she finds it not unusual to begin painting at nine in the morning, and suddenly it is three in the afternoon and she hasn’t even stopped for lunch. “Life in the zone” keeps her pushing for new ideas in painting.

Cecilia paints with the hope to spark people’s imagination, to see a story or simply make one up. Her art engages viewers to fuse reality and fantasy. Patrons are always captivated by her smile an positive attitude. Conversing with her is always a genuine delight.


A Good Day at the University

September 27, 2021
Hegel teaching

“Education is the art of making man ethical”
― Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

At this late hour I am wiped out and tired, but still stirred deeply by today’s encounter with a pair of Ethics classes. G. W. F Hegel was the subject of our study, and for the first time this semester, as I presented the material, I saw pairs of eyes actually looking back at me with an intensity that I hadn’t detected yet (the masks really are a barrier to me visually). But honestly, I drew genuine strength and encouragement by the way many of those eyes looked back at me as we explored this amazing thinker’s ideas today. I’m sorry I have to wait forty-eight hours before seeing the students again.

Thanks for reading.

Afterglow from Palestine Art Walk

September 26, 2021

Another Palestine Art Walk in the Books. Thanks, Kevin Harris, for the photo.

When philosophy paints its grey in grey, then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy’s grey in grey it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of Right

Sandi and I arrived home very late Saturday night, as we usually do, following a Thursday-through-Saturday marathon in Palestine at our Gallery at Redlands. This weekend featured the city’s monthly Art Walk with twenty businesses participating by hosting artists and their works on location. The photo above was taken at L&L Shoes where I have been situated the last several times Art Walk has taken place. In the final hour, a flurry of friends came by and there was scarcely time for extended conversations with all of them. I regret that and hope we’ll be together again. My masked friend is Ben Campbell from the board of the Texas State Railroad. This gentleman was one of the first to welcome me to the city when the gallery opened in 2017. He and I share a St. Louis background, and his father’s career with the railroad has provided me with a never-ending string of fascinating train tales and facts. We’re talking now about a project we hope to launch in the future with the Texas State Railroad. Stay tuned for details as they develop.

Kevin Harris, my friend from the days he worked as station manager for 93.5 FM, also stopped by and took this picture. We never seem to have enough time to talk about our dreams for creative art projects in Palestine. But we promised to follow up on the conversations just begun yet again.

Today offered just a brief time for decompression before entering Studio Eidolons and sitting at the writing desk to load up for tomorrow’s university run. My subject for tomorrow’s Ethics classes is G. W. F. Hegel, and I have posted my favorite quote from him at the top of this article. Taking his cue from Goethe’s Faust, he spoke of philosophy in a way that reminds me of my current “gray” years along with the hope that the Owl of Minerva will spread its wings. At this point I’m feeling quite optimistic; last week I experienced a marvelous visitation while reading and pondering several matters concerning the scope of ethics, and I really feel that tomorrow will be the beginning of something very different and very new. Over my thirty-plus years of teaching, I’ve had a few of those moments, and they never disappointed. That is why I’m looking forward to tomorrow . . .

Thanks always for reading.

Palestine Art Walk

September 25, 2021
Painting @ L&L Shoe Store

Palestine Art Walk is in full swing. Twenty businesses participating downtown. I’ll be at my easel in L&L Shoes from 10 till 3:00. Sandi is managing affairs at Gallery at Redlands two blocks away.

Wells Creek Crossing, Palestine Art Walk

My work is also on display at Wells Creek Crossing throughout this day.

Wells Creek Crossing

Come see us if you’re in the area.

Dawning of a New Day

September 24, 2021

Sun Slowly Rising on Sacred Heart Church. 400 N. Queen Street

The great thinker is one who can hear what is greatest in the work of other “greats” and who can transform it in an original manner.

Martin Heidegger, “The Being of beings as Will in Traditional Metaphysics,” Nietzsche

We woke up a little after 5 this morning, no doubt excited about the possibilities of another weekend in our Gallery here in Palestine, Texas. Art Walk is tomorrow, 10-3:00, with twenty businesses downtown featuring artists on display. Sandi and I are also anticipating great happenings at the Edom Art Festival October 9-10.

I am sitting up in bed, resuming my reading of Heidegger’s Nietzsche lectures. Across the street, Sacred Heart Church just tolled nine times to signal it is 7:00 (that happens frequently in this town). Chuckling after counting the bells, I suddenly came across this sterling quote that I have put at the top of the entry.

Again . . . The great thinker is one who can hear what is greatest in the work of other “greats” and who can transform it in an original manner.

As a child, I always admired all the other students in my classes who raised their hands, answering questions posed by the teachers. I always believed them to be much more intelligent than I could ever be. When I entered the ministry as an adult, I knew I had good memory, always quoting scriptures at length. But I knew I wasn’t really a “thinker.” Entering seminary, I knew I could count on good memory to recall particular texts to answer questions posed on exams. But I was only confirming what Roland Bainton of Yale once said: “One can earn a Ph.D. at an accredited university by memorizing a great number of facts, and entertaining no thoughts.” It wasn’t until my years of doctoral study that something happened for which I remain grateful: my ability to paraphrase and synthesize more than one text and more than one thinker while focused on a particular subject. I knew for the first time in my life that I was actually thinking critically, creatively. And then I entered the high school classroom.

Three decades later, I still find profound satisfaction in reading the kinds of texts required for scholarly activity (yes, I still read novels and poetry) even though I’ve spent the past four semesters in my art studio and gallery, not in classrooms. But when Texas Wesleyan University came calling last month, it was good to know that I had not rusted intellectually; I was still engaged in critical/creative thinking as a lifestyle rather than a job to perform.

The Heidegger quote above immediately called up in my memory one of my favorite Emerson texts from “The American Scholar” which I now paraphrase:

The creator of the first age breathed into himself the surrounding world of kindred spirits, lingered over the words and images, rearranged them in a fashion of his own liking, and pushed the new creation back out into the world.

Here is the Emerson quote: The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again.

The morning has been terrific, as I’ve had the pleasure of communing with Heidegger, Nietzsche, Schelling, Hegel and Leibniz to name a few of these creative spirits.

But now it is after 9:00 and some things need to be done in the gallery before we open at 10.

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.

Hello, We’re Back in the Gallery!

September 23, 2021

Sandi, Behind the Art Walk Mask

It is Thursday evening, and Sandi and I are back in The Gallery at Redlands for the weekend. Palestine’s Art Walk will be Saturday from 10 till 3:00. Sandi will manage the gallery, and I will be at my easel inside L&L Shoes down the street working on a watercolor and meeting patrons. Twenty businesses will participate this time, each with an artist inside displaying and demonstrating their work.

Sandi, without Mask
Gallery window from Oak Street
Working on Aristotle’s Ethics

Once the weekend arrives, I will be neck-deep in making art. Meanwhile, I am neck-deep in writing next week’s lectures (with enthusiasm now). Thanks to the breakthrough day before yesterday with my Heidegger & Nietzsche readings, I’m now wading through Aristotle’s system of Ethics, trying to break it down to explain to students. I’m confident that they will be able to compare and contrast Aristotle with what we’ve already discussed regarding Kant and Bentham. We’ll see. Meanwhile, I’m having fun!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday Morning Eruption

September 22, 2021
Karl Barth and colleague Eduard Thurneysen

The drilling machine for the Aargau lecture (“Biblical Questions, Insights, and Vistas”) is going at full strength and an unbroken pillar of smoke is rising from my pipe to the ceiling as in the best times of my life. Until now the progress has been “at the face” but not yet of any magnitude, and it has yet to be seen whether or not the direction of the tunnel is right.

Karl Barth, letter to pastoral colleague Eduard Thurneysen, March 17, 1920

Studio Eidolons
The volumes, papers and index cards continued to accumulate

Oh friends, what a day this has been! I awoke this morning with staggering “visitations” of ideas that somehow emerged during my sleep. Sitting up in bed with coffee to enjoy “executive time” I resumed my reading of Heidegger’s 1936 lectures on Nietzsche and suddenly a torrent of philosophy and ethics ideas surged to the surface of my consciousness. Laying aside the book and reaching for my journal, I scribbled out eleven pages of draft, then moved down the hall to Studio Eidolons and set to work, using one of my drafting tables (I wanted to look out upon “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood”–the autumnal morning sunlight was gorgeous, throwing a new quality of light across the lawns in the 59-degree temperatures).

For over an hour, I wrote without stopping, scribbling on legal pads, index cards and in my journal. I didn’t open the laptop till this evening to compose a lecture manuscript for next week’s classes. The remarkable thing is this–for the past couple of weeks I was cranking out a lecture a day. Today I suddenly realized I had material for several weeks’ worth of lectures. The longer I read and wrote the more excited I became. As I worked, I recalled something I had read from one of Karl Barth’s letters many years ago. I had to locate the text and post it above. I felt his enthusiasm as I worked through this exciting day.

The four-semester hiatus following my retirement had me genuinely concerned that perhaps I no longer “had it” and needed to stay out of the lecture hall. Now, I can hardly wait for 9:00 Monday morning.

Thanks for reading. Wow, what a way to begin the autumn season!

Working in the Shadows of the Great Minds

September 21, 2021
The View Above my Writing Desk

A long, slow night at the desk grading Ethics essays has finally drawn to a close. I am 50% finished with this week’s load; tomorrow I should be back out in front of it. I’m not complaining; my heart is filled with unspeakable gratitude. I’m still happy to be retired from full-time high school teaching. And though the past few weeks have had their share of anxieties, I am finally feeling that I am “fitting” back into the university environment after being out four semesters.

Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth invited me back this semester to pick up an online course in the Humanities and two lecture courses on Ethics. Tonight while grading essays, I looked up occasionally at the large framed Rudolf Bultmann collage I created back in 1989, and the sculpture portrait of Democritus I purchased in Athens in 2001. In front of them are a row of first and second editions of Emerson along with first editions of Tillich, Ezra Pound, and second editions of Longfellow and John Greenleaf Whittier. Laboring in the shadows of these great minds humbles me every time I think of them. And I feel warm inside when I sense that their spirits nod their approval and understanding of what I hope to accomplish.

I only wish I could find out what kind of contributions my current students will make in the years ahead. I’m already staggered when I think of the remarkable resumes of students it’s been my pleasure to serve over the past decades. I still recall many of their “thank yous” given in years past, and tonight I was thrilled to read positive sentiments from some of my current students as they struggle to adjust their ethical compasses in light of what they are reading from the masters assigned to this course.

Time for some needed rest. Thank you for reading. I’m happy to be included in this educational enterprise.

Finished the Georgia O’Keeffe Pedernal

September 18, 2021
8 x 10″ watercolor $100

Good Morning, Come On In!

September 18, 2021

Standing in the Doorway to The Gallery at Redlands

. . . like the moon, so life surely has a side that is constantly turned away from us, and that is not its opposite but its completion to perfection, to plenitude, to the real, whole, and full sphere and globe of being.

Rainer Maria Rilke, letter written January 6, 1923

Entering the Gallery at 9 this morning, I felt there was something special in the air. Sitting down to read, I wasn’t disappointed. Rilke’s letter has filled me with an indescribable emotion. A few weeks ago, life shifted yet again for me when I accepted this university contract and immediately found myself inundated with students, emails, deadlines, etc. with the opening of a new semester of study. My daily reading was already a reality, just different texts of ethics, philosophy, literature etc. have come across my study desk. College drives most of my life Monday through Wednesday; then Thursday arrives with the Gallery and surrounding of an artist community. When I read Rilke I thought “Of course. Two sides to the moon. And they complete one another.”

Friday Morning Journaling
Today’s Journaling

Some time ago, I decided that I wanted my journal to contain more than scribbled thoughts. I already keep separate sketchbooks for watercoloring and drawing. But for my journal I decided I want each morning’s “marker” for the day’s scribblings to serve as a divider, or title page for quicker reference. This has given me an excuse to return to collaging. I have photocopied and printed scores of my earlier sketches to tear out, cut out, and paste into my journal pages when I feel too rushed to slow down and draw something. But I still draw in the journal as well. It keeps me guessing. Above I’ve posted photos of yesterday and this morning’s journal pages.

Started this 8 x 10″ last night. Will probably finish and frame sometime today

Late yesterday afternoon while drafting next week’s lectures on my laptop, the setting sun lanced my desk top, making it impossible for me to look into the screen of my laptop for about thirty minutes. I moved over to the drafting table and began an 8 x 10″ watercolor of yet another Cerra Pedernal from Abiquii, New Mexico. Georgia O’Keeffe said if she painted it enough times, God would have to give it to her. I’m beginning to wonder if I will wake up one day to find this mesa planted outside my own window. A few years ago, I painted it eleven times during a week that I stayed in Abiquii. Since those days, I have ached to return. Hence, I keep painting my memories of that place.

Warm Remembrance of Riding Andante

. . . and speaking of memories, exactly one week ago, at about this time, I climbed on to Andante and road this magnificent horse around the Key Equestrian Center in Lubbock, Texas. Thank you, Sandi. Looking at the picture this morning (as I have every morning since), I decided to post him as a parting shot on today’s blog.

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.