Easter Predawn Musings

Looking up at the 2nd-story unit where we reside during gallery weekends

By reality and perfection I understand the same thing.

Baruch Spinoza, Ethics

Early morning reading and scribbling

The words were spoken as if there was no book,

Except that the reader leaned above the page . . .

Wallace Stevens, “The House was Quiet and the World was Calm”

Waking at 5:17 a.m. is never my plan. But there it was. Knowing my gas tank was nearly empty and we have a long country drive ahead of us in a few hours, I decided to get dressed, go downstairs and take my vehicle out for a fill-up. The Kroger pumps were active so I filled up, then walked to the donut shop nearby. The lone friendly attendant was chatty and cheerful, commenting on my being up so early. “What about you?” I asked. “When did you have to open up?” “At 4, he replied with a grin. But Pop is already baking by 2, otherwise we’re behind!” At that moment the light went on in my brain: most independent donut shops close early in the day. Of course! They have already put in their time. I immediately recalled those bleak times when I worked for UPS unloading 40-foot trailers at 3:15 am. I was working on my doctorate and had to study throughout the daytime hours. Then I was off to bed early in the evening, knowing I would have to set the alarm for 2:30 to get to work on time. I’m glad those hours are behind me (until days like this, which are elective–today excepted).

Trekking back upstairs to the second floor, I found my favorite place beside the floor lamp at the kitchen table near the windows and waited for the light to come up over Palestine.

My favorite morning vista of Palestine

I’m looking out the kitchen window now, through the fire escape, at the Carnegie Library which will soon house Palestine’s public library once again (when that happens, I’ll probably have to put a sign on our locked gallery door saying something like: “IF YOU WANT ACCESS TO THE GALLERY, YOU’LL HAVE TO CROSS THE STREET AND FIND ME IN THE LIBRARY!”

I enjoy gazing out through the fire escape, because I have had this romantic notion of Palestine embodying the best of Manhattan’s 1950’s art culture. Fire escapes on buildings such as this 1914 hotel make me think of Manhattan. I was writing out these sentiments a year ago when we took possession of The Gallery at Redlands and readied ourselves for the annual Dogwood Art Festival. And of course I was ecstatic the morning of the festival when a Manhattan sculptor responded to this blog and sent us her well wishes.

Though finishing the book, I am still re-reading and re-hashing much of New Art City as I discover striking parallels between the Abstract Expressionist artists of New York in mid-century and the climate we artists are discovering lately in east Texas. The following quote I find particularly striking:

For New York artists, who take it for granted that they live in a city that is less than perfectly beautiful, the idea of asserting that reality and perfection are one and the same may be a way of asserting the possibility that art will be able to flourish in an environment that pushes against the idea of art. A New York artist has to believe that beauty can be found in the bare, immediate facts, for only if reality, which is by its nature imperfect, has a chance of perfection, can an artist who lives in this unpredictable environment have a chance to create something with a permanent value.

I am still searching for adequate words to express what is happening in east Texas recently. There is a growing number of creative spirits (artists, musicians, writers, actors) in this region who sense a surge of enthusiasm for the arts as new venues are opening and new public events keep popping up in our communities to promote the arts. At the same time, we find ourselves surrounded by a climate of gross negativity, particularly in social media and news outlets. I always wonder why so many seek out ways to spread unhappiness. We creatives are determined to keep doing what we do, refusing to listen to the sourpusses. Recently I’ve been studying the art culture of ancient Byzantium and how much of it inspired the rising tide of New York art in the 1950’s. The result is that I am beginning to see East Texas through the lenses of Byzantium, the ancient citadel for the arts. I plan to write much more of this in the days ahead.

Gallery at Redlands lobby window display

We hope you will join us for our Magazine Launch party next Wednesday, April 20 from 5-8 pm as we celebrate the arrival of Volume 7 of The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery magazine. Palestine has been designated as one of the “Destination Cities” and has taken out ten pages of advertisements with sponsors promoting the creative spirits of this town. Publisher Gloria Hood will join us for this party as will the artists and sponsors featured in the ads. We are offering wine and refreshments and much fun as we gather.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for coming art-related events.

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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