Archive for the ‘Arkansas’ Category

Making Art does not have to be an Exorcism

January 15, 2022
Framed Watercolor 16 x 20″ $400

Painting isn’t an aesthetic operation; it’s a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange, hostile world and us, a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires. When I came to that realization, I knew I had found my way.

Pablo Picasso, quoted in Francois Gilot’s Life with Picasso

With temperatures plummeting into the 20’s, we’ve built a nice fire and settled in for this Saturday night. I’ll be working late on my university syllabus due Monday with classes beginning Wednesday. But I wanted first to frame the watercolor that I finally completed and put it on the blog before returning to the school work.

I’ve understood Picasso’s theory of art as exorcism for about thirty years now, and always enjoy re-reading his testimony concerning it. I believe I understand his perspective, but do not myself follow it. But it gives me a chance to respond with my own views.

When I make art, I am reproducing the world I want to remember: my Proustian world with all its rich memories that delight my senses as I embrace, enfold and try to mold them back into visible form. Many people use memory, calling up mental images to hold their past, to bring their past back into their present. I draw and paint the objects, the narratives most precious to me.

In the spring of 2011 I had the privilege of judging a plein air competition sponsored by the White River Artists of Cotter, Arkansas. During that three-day venture, I was taken to this rustic cabin in Flippin, Arkansas, dating back to 1905. This was one of the first two homes built in that town. Currently it sits on the property of Ozarks Realty on U.S. 62/412 west of the town of Flippin. I spent a delicious morning sketching this cabin with watercolor en plein air. Once I returned to the studio, I created two additional paintings of it, closer to a 20 x 24″ scale. Both of them have since sold, but the image continues to abide with me. So I’ve decided to try and render a third one.

Plein Air attempt
First Attempt years ago
2nd attempt

I cannot describe every sentiment that visited me while I worked on this piece. I will happily join some of the artists from the 2011 event in September for a four-day watercolor workshop. I cannot believe that it will have been eleven years since I last visited this location. Another sentiment I felt while painting was the feeling that Andrew Wyeth was looking over my shoulder nodding his encouragement and approval as I worked. His masterful drybrush watercolor studies of rustic subjects always abide with me when I’m in the studio.

Monday night I’ll be conducting a live demonstration and giving an art talk for ARTIUM, an arts association in Mansfield, Texas. We’ll gather at the Chris W. Burkett Service Center at 620 S. Wisteria Street from 6:30-8:30.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Slinging Hash

January 14, 2022

In the morning sow your seed,

do not let your hands be idle in the evening.

Ecclesiastes 11:6

But lest I should mislead any when I have my own head and obey my whims, let me remind the reader that I am only an experimenter. Do not set the least value on what I do, or the least discredit on what I do not, as if I pretended to settle any thing as true or false. I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

In the mornings when I read, I frequently find contrasting opinions and laugh. The first quote above was the sentiment with which I awakened; no sooner than I was sitting up in bed with coffee, I was journaling and plotting a trajectory for the weeks and months ahead, thinking all the while that it is already the second week into the new year, and I haven’t sufficiently set out my “business plan” for 2022. Then I read Emerson! I laughed because I had just finished sketching a bison in my sketchbook, and immediately asked “Now why am I sketching bison when I should be planning out my semester that begins next Wednesday at Texas Wesleyan University?” Hooray for Emerson.

After plenty of satisfying reading, I rose from bed and went to the studio to look for something to do next. I framed an Indian motorcycle that I sketched yesterday, then searched among my stored mats for something suitable to put around my Arkansas cabin. Now that I have it framed in an appropriately-toned mat, I’m ready to “compositionalize” the watercolor and tighten up some of the details I still haven’t addressed. It may be finished today, we’ll see.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you have an “Emerson” kind of day!

5 x 7″ pencil drawing in 8 x 10″ frame $100

Not much work left on this one . . .
Morning sketching exercise

Need Solid Stone to Polish

January 11, 2022
Continued work on the Arkansas Cabin
Practice sketch of Chair

You write like you got no balls at all. You need some solid stone to polish. You’re not a Flannery O’Connor, you’re not James Joyce, forget it. I would like you for once to put some words on paper that actually matter to you.

William Cotter Murray’s challenge to Bruce Dobler, Iowa Writers Workshop

I’m thankful for this winter interlude to re-focus on what I wish to accomplish in 2022. The calendar is already filling with spring watercolor classes, a university Ethics class, a demonstration before an arts society, and two art festivals (between now and May 1). Meanwhile I’ve wanted to be like a farmer in winter who performs maintenance on fences and tractors, orders feed and supplies, and tends the daily feeding of livestock. The farmer works year-round; only the tasks vary. Same with the artist. Seasons and weather set the agenda for what we do, and when it is too cold outside and holiday shoppers alike cool off in January, February, March, I find it useful to make art and tend the calendar so as not to be hit broadside when the action arrives.

There are a number of painting and sketching projects already filling my portfolio and littering my studio. Before going back to The Gallery at Redlands on Thursday, I am hoping to get some more creative tasks accomplished.

The quote above from William Cotter Murray sounded in my inner consciousness while I was tentatively poking at this cabin watercolor. Suddenly I was tightening up on the watercolor, and voices from long ago began to invade: Murray chiding Dobler, along with my own painting professor snapping at me in class: “Loosen up!” Taking out some books of Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper drawings, I decided it best to take out the pencil and try to sketch loosely the chair I’m planning on inserting into the cabin watercolor. As I drew and later painted, I decided to put on the DVD of Stone Reader so I could listen to writers and critics discussing the dynamics of writing (much of it parallel to painting). I decided, “True, I am not Andrew Wyeth, I am not Edward Hopper. What I need to do is put something down on paper that actually matters to me.” Forget style. Just render the cabin. Remember the solitude. Recall the silence. And paint away.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

The Apple-Bug has Hatched

January 8, 2022

Everyone has heard the story which has gone the rounds of New England, of a strong and beautiful bug which came out of the dry leaf of an old table of apple-tree wood, which had stood in a farmer’s kitchen for 60 years, first in Connecticut, and afterward in Massachusetts — from an egg deposited in the living tree many years earlier still, as appeared by counting the annual layers beyond it; which was heard gnawing out for several weeks, hatched perchance by the heat of an urn.

Who knows what beautiful and winged life, whose egg has been buried for ages under many concentric layers of woodness in the dead dry life of society, deposited at first in the alburnum of the green and living tree, which has been gradually converted into the semblance of its well-seasoned tomb may unexpectedly come forth from amidst society’s most trivial and handselled furniture, to enjoy its perfect summer life at last!

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Waking at 4:30 this morning, I lay in the darkness of The Redlands Hotel and allowed my mind to embrace the new ideas visiting in the pre-dawn. This precious story from Henry David Thoreau I have not read or taught for over twenty years, yet it arrived in my half-awake consciousness to punctuate the New Year meditations I’ve been scribbling in my journal for nearly a month now. I lay there in the darkness this morning, wondering what kind of heated urn had been placed on my consciousness to hatch this story. Finally reaching for the light, I decided to begin the day and head for the kitchen to sit at the table awhile and write while the ideas are still fresh.

When I think of the sixty years it took for a “beautiful bug” to emerge from the dry wood of the kitchen table, I cannot help but look back over my own sixty years of hacking through my own wilderness of earthly experiences. The voices of teachers, words from texts, co-mingled with sights and colors of my surroundings have combined their efforts to weave a tapestry that I survey daily with hope of a fuller undersanding.

As I write this at the kitchen table in suite 207, I think of a partial watercolor on the drafting table on the floor below me in The Gallery at Redlands. I worked on it till nearly 10:30 last night before turning out the lights and coming upstairs. Now I think of the painting lying in the darkness below waiting for me to come back for today’s visit, and I am ready.

Yesterday during a watercolor class in the Gallery, Vanessa, Jessi and I mused over the perennial question asked of us about how long it takes to create a particular work of art. We concluded that the answer corresponds to the years comprising our ages–the watercolors we were making at that moment have been “under construction” throughout our entire lives. So . . . if someone asks me how long it took to create this watercolor of an Arkansas cabin, my answer would be “sixty-seven years.”

Sixty-Seven Years and Counting

I’m ready to get back to work on this watercolor, glad that the morning is early and it is still dark outdoors.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Arkansas Cabin Study

January 5, 2022
Working in Studio Eidolons on Arkansas Cabin

Sagot: I’ll show you what makes it great. (He goes to the bar and picks up the Matisse. He takes it out of its frame. He holds up the frame.). This is what makes it great.

Gaston: The frame?

Sagot: The boundaries. The edge. Otherwise, anything goes. You want to see a soccer game where the players can run up into the stands with the ball and order a beer? No. They’ve got to stay within the boundaries to make it interesting. In the right hands, this little space is as fertile as Eden.

Steve Martin, Picasso at the Lapin Agile

This morning I was reading one of my favorite plays (above) over coffee before a nice fire (temperatures outside are rising, so it appears the fireplace weather will be suspended awhile). The text above leaped off the page at me, because I had been re-reading Heidegger’s lecture on Nietzsche titled “Rapture as Form-engendering Force”. In the heart of the lecture is the discussion of the ancient Greek conception of form and matter which always gets my attention as a two-dimensional artist. Recalling a painting I’ve done at least four times of a 1902 home in Flippin, Arkansas, I pulled the images this morning and decided I would take another crack at it, this time allowing the entire structure to be in the composition rather than just the right portion. I haven’t paid enough attention in the past to compositional matters and the picture plane. Part of my 2022 Resolutions includes addressing that.

Remains of a 1902 Residence in Flippin, Arkansas
(sold)
(sold)

The two large watercolors have been framed and sold, and I’ve since decided I want to create yet another one, this one in the structure’s entirety.

I’ve tried to put in extended time in Studio Eidolons today because yesterday burned up four hours of round-trip travel to Palestine. The good news is that the Tourism Bureau granted the $15,000 request for which the Dogwood Arts Council had applied for an upcoming public art event. the not-so-good news is that I put in zero time yesterday in the studio. I’ll try not to let that happen in the future.

The January calendar is already filling up. I have scheduled a watercolor class for two in The Gallery at Redlands Friday afternoon. Beginning next week, I’m on the calendar to teach Watercolor Wednesdays at Show Me the Monet Gallery in Arlington at Gracie Lane Boutiques. My dates are January 12, 19 and 26 from 1-4:00 p.m. If any of you wish to sign up for a class, phone Gracie Lane Boutiques at 817.468.5263. They are located at 4720 S. Cooper St., Arlington, TX 76017.

I will also be speaking and giving a live watercolor demonstration for Mansfield’s ARTIUM the evening of January 17. And I also accepted a contact to teach an Ethics class again at Texas Wesleyan University on Monday and Wednesday mornings. One class vs. three should be much more doable for me with everything else going on. I’m pleased also that I have been accepted to participate in Artscape 2022 April 29-May 1 at the Dallas Arboretum. This is one of my best festivals of the year, and I’m already gearing up to crank out as much fresh work as possible to frame and package for the booth when that date rolls up.

There is much that interests me as I pursue this cabin painting yet again. I have so much I want to learn in rendering the rusty corrugated iron roof, the rusty screens in the doors, the stained wood siding, the cut-stone steps in front, and finally the wildflowers and green foliage framing up the cabin. For several years I have wished to return to this cabin painting and am glad to be starting out 2022 on this project.

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.

Sunday Morning Musings from Studio Eidolons

April 11, 2021
Glad to be back in the Studio for some Quiet Restoration

. . . finding you were able to make something up; to create truly enough so that it made you happy to read it; and to do this every day you worked was something that gave a greater pleasure than any I had ever known.

Ernest Hemingway

Today is restoration day. Sandi and I received our second COVID vaccine shots yesterday and are happy to experience no unpleasant symptoms. We’ve just been on the go for several days and are glad now to stop for awhile.

I’ve resumed reading Carlos Baker’s Hemingway: The Writer as Artist. I love the quote above, and that general sentiment of the artist–creating something out of the void. My life has been enriched in recent years by a mix of painting and writing. Last weekend while in The Gallery at Redlands, I met an author who invited me to join their writers’ group that meets once a month. The next one won’t be until May, but I am already leaning forward with enthusiasm to gathering with these writers and finding ways to sharpen my own vision of what to do with my own practice.

My latest watercolor has laid dormant on my drafting table for twenty-four hours, and I intend today to give it my next push. I’ve gotten bogged down with the bricks and ghost signage, so I may decide to return to work on the trees awhile. We’ll see.

Planning today to return to the Ghost Sign watercolor

I look forward to participating in Artscape 2021 at the Dallas Aroboretum April 23-25. Last year was canceled due to COVID, but I understand that there will be 80+ artists participating this year. This festival has been one of the highlights of my annual art schedule before last year’s cancellations. I am excited to bring out quite a stack of framed watercolors that have not yet been seen by the public. I guess that’s one positive to address concerning the lost year during COVID.

A new Greeting Card for my Inventory

Hank Under Oklahoma Stars

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”

Reclining against his backpack, Hank savored the warmth of the fire that neutralized the chill of the October night. He had left Turvey’s Corner just this morning, but thanks to a pair of truckers, had managed to put nearly twelve hours between himself and the town he just left. Finding wide open plains west of the town of Vinita, he now rested his stiff body and gazed in wonder at the millions of stars filling the deep night sky.

The back of the Greeting Card (blank inside)

I have allowed my greeting card inventory to dwindle over the past couple of years. In The Gallery at Redlands, as well as my festival tent, I sell 5 x 7″ cards (blank inside) with my artwork on front and a descriptive text on back. They sell for $5 each, five for $20, and come with the proper envelope. A protective plastic envelope encases the assembly. Above is an example of one of my newest ones printed last week. Materials just arrived to print 250 new cards, so I’m excited to create new editions as well as replenish the ones sold out. Above is an example of one of my newest cards; below is a photo of another spread out.

(Cards are blank inside)

I’m ready to paint again. 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.

Thoughts in the Night While Painting in The Gallery at Redlands

April 8, 2021
After a four-day hiatus, it’s good to be working on this painting again

The celebrated biographies give us the sufferings and hardships of the great. But the sufferings and hardships of the unknown are often more eloquent. The tribulations of fate weave a mantle of unsuspected heroism about these lesser figures. To win through by sheer force of genius is one thing; to survive and continue to create when every last door is slammed in one’s face is another. Nobody acquires genius: it is God-given. But one can acquire patience, fortitude, wisdom, understanding. Perhaps the gretest gift the little men have to offer us is this ability to accept the conditions which life imposes, accept one’s own limitations, in other words. Or, to put it another way–to love what one does whether it causes a stir or not. Of the highest men Vivekananda once said: “They make no stir in the world. They are calm, silent, unknown.”

Henry Miller, To Paint is to Love Again

As the hour approaches 9 p.m., The Gallery at Redlands is quieter. My eyes are tired from working on the watercolor at the drafting table (bless you, Tim and Patty for that wonderful gift!). Sitting now at the desk I’ve taken up my continued reading of this beautiful volume from Henry Miller (bless you, Stacy and Leigh for that gift–I still cry when I think of opening the wrapping paper that night!)

I want to dedicate this blog entry to the Unknown Artist, the One who continues to work faithfully on his/her craft day after day, even when no one seems to notice. I salute the artist who realizes the world doesn’t need his/her creative effort; if the artist quits, the world will continue on its way. I still shudder at the memories, the Angst I knew in the 80’s and 90’s. I still remember those nights of sadness when I couldn’t sleep because I was mired in all that self-doubt that arose because of a general lack of recognition or appreciation for my artistic efforts.

The art world has changed profoundly for me since those days. Not that I consider myself successful or widely-known in the art world. I think what it boils down to is the reality that I worked a job for twenty-eight years, earned a pension and retired. Once my job supported my lifestyle around the turn of the millenium, I suddenly realized that I did not need the income for art sales, and I no longer expected to become famous. That turned out to be liberating. As I recall, somewhere around the year 2000, I found myself happy in the act of creating instead of fretting over marketing details or standards of success.

But our world remains filled with artistic, creative, driven souls who suffer, either because they cannot make a living and/or they create without any measure of success or recognition. I don’t know which is worse. All I know is that when an artist is unhappy, I feel guilty because my life has turned in such a way that I have the ability to make art, and love the work, and don’t have to depend on selling it.

I am still surprised to own a gallery now. It has been over two months since we turned that corner, and it is still quite new and quite surprising for me. As for The Twelve in The Gallery at Redlands, I just want them to be successful, and I want them to be happy in their creative work. I want them to know the bliss and fulfillment of having the strength and wellness to pursue their bliss.

I am turned off by art blogs that tell us how to become millionaires, how to market our work, especially the ones who solicit money from us for their packaged programs that guarantee financial fortune. I despise the unwritten sentiment that if we are not financially successful then we are just mediocre or lazy artists. From my perspective, this gathering of The Twelve in our gallery has shown me more love and compassion than I believe I’ve ever seen in social gatherings from my past. There is a wonderful vibe among this community. Something is in the air. And I truly believe that Palestine and east Texas are on the verge of artistic enrichment. I truly believe that The Twelve are committed to improving our community by celebrating art, by delighting in the act of creation. And I am proud to be numbered 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.

Early Sunday Morning

April 4, 2021
Working slowly on my ghost sign composition from Hot Springs, Arkansas

Usually the artist has two life-long companions, neither of his own choosing. I mean–poverty and loneliness. To have a friend who understands and appreciates your work, one who never lets you down but who becomes more devoted, more reverent, as the years go by, that is a rare experience. It takes only one friend, if he is a man of faith, to work miracles. How distressing it is to hear young painters talking about dealers, shows, newspaper reviews, rich patrons, and so on. All that comes with time–or will never come. But first one must make friends, create them through one’s work. What sustains the artist is the look of love in the eyes of the beholder. Not money, not the right connections, not exhibitions, not flattering reviews.

Henry Miller, To Paint is to Love Again

Saturday was a slow day in the gallery–dark, rainy and overcast outdoors with very few people coming in. The result was an excellent day for painting, reading, scribbling in the journal, and finding my center again. When patrons did come to the gallery, I found myself much more open to visiting and exchanging good words. And then of course, many of my new friends came in and the night glowed with companionship.

The words from Henry Miller rolled across the page at just the right moment this morning as I was reflecting over the watercolor that has kept me company the past couple of days. I am probably going to include the word “palimpsest” in the title of my new work, because of how the layers of billboard on the side of the building correspond to the layers of my personal memories that keep blistering to the surface of my consciousness.

As I read Henry’s words of the struggling artist and look at my painting, the past comes pouring through my soul. The year 1988 was utterly bleak. I now look out the window of our gallery down the street, across a vacant parking lot to the distant railyards. And I recall those Sunday mornings walking along West Berry Street in Fort Worth toward Texas Christian University. I worked as a dispatcher for Campus Police, unsure of what kind of future employment I would land, but committed to a life as an artist. The squalor of Berry Street alongside with the beauty of the morning sun on the old business facades reminded me of Edward Hopper’s honest urban works, and I wondered then if I could ever land in an environment where I could practice my art of rendering such scenes and somehow live comfortably as well.

In those days my friends were very few, and none of them shared my artistic vision or interest. Sandi would not come into my life for another decade, but I held on to the belief that friendship would eventually arrive, and perhaps a stability to life as an artist. Now, more than thirty years later, the artful life has arrived, and my heart swells in gratitude for love, for friendship, and for a caring environment. I knew the life of the struggling artist, and am glad now that the struggle only involves attempts to improve my craft and my business associations. But I am so grateful for a circle of artistic friends. The Twelve have enriched me in ways I could never adequately put into words. And to everyone still struggling to establish his/her artistic lifestyle I just urge you not to give up. Believe. Trust your vision. Never apologize for your authenticity. Keep practicing your art. And never cut yourself off from other visionaries seeking companionship and conversation. Your vision and talents are the genuine life blood that could heal our society. There is not enough beauty in this world. We need your inspiration.

Early Sunday Morning Peek into the Gallery at Redlands from the Lobby of Redlands Hotel
Lovely Work from Deanna Pickett Frye and Elaine Cash Jary in our Front Window
From where I sit . . .

Thanks always for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Pre-Dawn Musings from The Gallery at Redlands

April 3, 2021

What this country really needs is a good five-cent cigar.

Thomas Riley Marshall, Vice-President under Woodrow Wilson, presiding over a Senate debate

Waking at 3:15 this Saturday morning was not part of my plan, but here I sit in a darkened kitchen on the second floor of The Redlands Hotel, with an abundance of good feelings over the past couple of days’ events in The Gallery at Redlands. Closing out the final weekend of Palestine’s Dogwood Festival afforded us warm conversations with some of our gallery artists along with members of the Dogwood Arts Council. We also got to visit with dear friends whose workplaces are in this hotel along with a host of visiting patrons. And we have even made some new friends who live above their business just a block away. The vibe of Palestine continues to warm up in many ways similar to what I’ve been reading about the 1950’s surge of art in New York City.

And, speaking of New York City, I can no longer hold back on the thrill that greeted The Twelve as we were launching the opening of this gallery March 20. On that day, while some of us were under the tent for Art Alley (one of the Dogwood Festival’s events), I received a comment on this blog from a sculptor in Manhattan:

Congratulations, in advance, for what looks like a groundbreaking opening! Even here, from Manhattan, I can see art is an important part of this community, and a community that reveres art is a community alive!!! Do well and I look forward to more photos!

As some of our gallery artists and members of the Arts Council gathered round, I read the comment aloud from my smart phone, and they broke out in spontaneous applause! Two days later, when I posted a new blog, updating our art events here in Palestine and the success of our gallery reception honoring The Twelve, another post came up from our Manhattan friend:

Thank you for the moment-by-moment description of your show, the gallery and all the artists who make up your Twelve. It is true, I live in NYC. I have been to a lot of art exhibits, and have a BFA in sculpture, from back when no women were in the Sculpture Department. But I am still more interested in the artists than the hype. You gave me the artists, in such a way that I can imagine myself there. Now that I know the history of the gallery and some of the artists, I can follow along. Thanks again. And, when you are on the river in OK, and if you happen to see an osprey fishing (returning from their migration), that’s probably me, sending you a “hello” message.

Two days later, my artist friend Wayne journeyed with me to Oklahoma to fly-fish the Lower Mountain Fork River. As we fished those gently flowings waters, we watched for the osprey and re-lived the thrill of the Manhattan posts of good will.

The Gallery has been busy the past couple of days, but still I found some stillness and quiet and space to continue work on my latest watercolor (thank you again, Tim and Patty, for giving me the drafting table so I can work on art inside the gallery). Below is the reference photo I’m using for the painting, taken early one morning in Hot Springs, Arkansas when Wayne and I were returning him to his home in Missouri.

O’Bryan Building, erected in 1891. Hot Springs, Arkansas

While working on this watercolor, I’ve been exporing the building’s history online, and intend in future posts, as this watercolor develops, to share what I’ve learned about the layers of advertising making up the “ghost sign.”

The 10-cent Cigar portion brought to memory the famous wit of our Vice-President under Woodrow Wilson. As he presided over the Senate, he was known for his patience. But on one particular day, as Senator after Senator pontificated endlessly about what was needed to heal our nation’s ills, the Vice-President leaned over to the Secretary of the Senate and uttered those immortal words in the hearing of several nearby.

What this country really needs is a good five-cent cigar.

Currently, I see our country as very ill. But I have hope. Members of The Twelve told me repeatedly in the weeks leading up to the March 20 reception at The Gallery of Redlands that they were surprised and warmed by the good will flowing in all directions on social media: members of The Twelve who had not yet met were sending warm, enthusiastic thoughts to one another, admiring one another’s work online and looking forward to the day we would be together. Artists from the metroplex, from Amarillo, from Palestine and from Missouri earnestly looking forward to meeting face-to-face, some of them sharing a four-bedroom suite on the second floor of The Redlands Hotel. For four days, we went to meals together, sat and chatted in the gallery together, congregated in the hotel lobby, set up displays under the tent for Art Alley together, and finally, spent hours together the night of our reception. The temperature continued to rise, and lasting friendships were formed. Wayne and Paula were reluctant to leave and return to Missouri so soon. Metroplex artists reluctantly said Goodbye and returned to their neighborhoods. And Sandi and I could not wait for the next weekend to get back to Palestine and see the local artists again. What we all shared was this: social media, as we had experienced before, had been a venue of poisonous rhetoric, vitriolic attacks on people’s character, and a megaphone for discontent. But what we have experienced for over a month now is a genuine outpouring of goodwill to others not yet seen in person. And now that The Twelve have returned to their homes, the positive messages continue. And we wonder, what is wrong with the mainstream that seeks satisfaction in poisonous rhetoric on social media? Honestly, what is their return on this activity? Satisfaction? Pleasure? Happiness? Why can’t people seek healing for this culture? What is to be gained by all this negativity?

There are a number of things happening in The Gallery at Redlands that fill me with pride in this space. Sandi had the idea of bringing in more comfy chairs and intalling a Keurig coffee maker along with bowls of snacks put out. What we have noticed is more people entering our space and lingering longer, perhaps because they don’t feel assaulted by hungry sales people. They sit. They drink. They snack. And they visit. Recently I have enjoyed the company of an eighth-generation descendant of Cynthia Ann Parker, mother of Quanah Parker. I have also enjoyed an extensive conversation with a retired history teacher from Mississippi, and listened with awe to the experiences of a woman whose aunt managed the Carlin Art Gallery in Fort Worth and represented the works of Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth. Visiting with art lovers who look closely at our work and remain for meaningful conversations is just as satisfying as selling art, though we are very happy that sales have been steady since we’ve opened.

What our country needs, is more good will, more positive discourse. And we are warmed to find more of that going on in this community. May it continue. We are expecting that five-cent cigar.

The light is coming up outside, and I have a watercolor downstairs waiting for me. Like Henry Miller, I’m looking forward to taking a peek at it in the morning light that pours in through our gallery windows.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.