Archive for the ‘art festival’ Category

Morning Thoughts from the Gallery

April 30, 2019

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Where there is no vision the people perish.

Proverbs 29:18

The scholars are the priests of that thought which establishes the foundations of the earth. No matter what is their special work or profession, they stand for the spiritual interest of the world, and it is a common calamity if they neglect their post in a country where the material interest is so predominant as it is in America.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Method of Nature”

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Thinking of the Next Catch

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Trophy from the “Spirit is Ageless” Art & Writing Contest

Artscape 2019 at the Dallas Arboretum is in the books, and I am still awash in splendid recollections from the weekend spent there. As of this writing, I am finally rested from the exertion of breaking down the show, driving it home, then rising yesterday morning to drive two hours to Palestine and unload all my festival gear and art work at the Redlands Hotel, then put the Gallery at Redlands all back together again.

Sunday at the festival allowed me some time for reading in the shade, and Emerson’s essay penetrated my soul in a way that escapes words. I often have to close the book, sigh, and gaze into the distance to absorb the beauty of his prose. What a lovely literary sage he is! I have difficulty explaining the “spirituality” of  art, but I told my students over the years that I am happier making art than selling it, or sitting in a festival or gallery showing it off. The act of painting restores my soul, making me feel alive and purposeful on this earth. The material benefit of selling art is appreciated, but the restored spirit I feel while making it far exceeds the rewards of sales or words of praise.

Part of the weekend activities included a reception at CC Young: The Point & Pavilion adjacent to White Rock Lake. I accepted the trophy posted above as they read my written submission accompanying the watercolor:

Though the old fellow spent most of his days drinking coffee and dozing in his shed, he still kept his fly fishing gear piled on the chair across the room in perfect view so he could continue to remember those days when fishing was at its best. He smiled at every memory of Indian Creek with its holes teaming with black bass, and Beaver’s Bend with the long gurgling runs lined with rainbow trout.

The neighbors entered his darkened house after several days of silence, and found him dead, seated in his rocker, his half-cup of cold coffee at his elbow. The fishing gear was still piled in the chair across the room, offering mute tribute to his wholesome days.

This morning’s pleasure included spending time on the air with Kevin Harris and Alan Wade on Smooth Rock 93.5. I miss Marc Mitchell, who recently accepted a position with the Palestine Herald-Press, just down the road from the Redlands Hotel. Alan has provided warm friendship and excellent conversation, and adds another quality presence to the broadcast team.

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.

 

 

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The Refuge of Art

April 25, 2019

Art still has truth. Seek refuge there.

Matthew Arnold

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Seated this morning in The Gallery at Redlands, I confess that Art is indeed my refugue, my inner calm. I have heard fishermen claim that even if they fish all day without a bite, it was still an excellent day. I disagree. No matter how serene the surroundings, if I fish all day without success, I am soured. But art is a different story; I can paint all day and create junk, but I still have experienced a sublime day. The act of making art floods my being with sentiments that are just as genuine as the satisfaction I know when creating something worth viewing.

Soon I will be packing my art out of here to take to the Dallas Arboretum for Artscape 2019. I set up Friday morning and we have a Members Only Preview Show that evening. The actual show opens Saturday morning at 9:00 and runs till 5:00. Same hours on Sunday.

https://www.dallasarboretum.org/events-activities/artscape/

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Smooth Rock 93.5 is broadcasting at the moment, so I am keeping things quiet at my end of the gallery. After the morning show is over at 10:00, I’ll begin taking down my paintings and loading the Jeep for the show. Meanwhile, it feels good to enjoy the calm of the morning, and spend this quality time reading and scribbling in the journal.

My next blog will feature photos of my new booth appearance at Artscape 2019. I have made a number of profound changes in my display, and after a month of seeing the visions in my head, I look forward to seeing the real edifice raised in the morning. And then, I hope to enjoy a pair of relaxing days seated in the booth, meeting art lovers and feeling the genuine gratitude of being invited to participate in such an event as this. I love the environment of a quality art festival, and this particular one is one of the most successful I have experienced over the past fifteen years.

Throughout my decades of employment, I cannot say that I was always surrounded by creative, optimistic personnel. But art festivals are different–from set up till break down, I always find my neighboring artistic spirits to be filled with a joie de vi·vre that buoys my spirits. And I look forward to seeing many of these artists whom I haven’t seen in a year. Catching up is always a joy. Being a part of this kind of community reminds me of how blessed I am.

This book, Culture Care, that my friend Ben gave me yesterday is providing much food for thought this morning. I hope to have more to say about it in the days ahead. But now, the broadcast team has finished their work of the morning, and it is time for me to load the paintings.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

 

The Quiet Before the Big Festival

April 24, 2019

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The Greeks had a concept of Kairos time, which is not quantitative like our normal conception of time, but qualitative–rich or empty, the meaningful hour or the hurried moment. When you’re with beauty, in art or in nature, you tend to move at Kairos time–slowly, serenely but thickly.

David Brooks, “We need more timelessness, outside the speed of social media”

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Beneath our loquacious chatter, there is a silent language of our whole being which yearns for art and the beauty from which art comes.

Rollo May, My Quest for Beauty

Since my last post, I have journeyed to Palestine, Abilene, Lubbock and San Angelo. The whirlwind of activity made it difficult to stop long enough to post a blog. Now I am sequestered in The Redlands Hotel, my home-away-from-home, and I am packing and loading for Artscape 2019 at the beautiful Dallas Arboretum.

https://www.dallasarboretum.org/events-activities/artscape/

The event will be held Saturday and Sunday, 9-5, and it is my biggest art show of the year. This will be my second time to participate, and I am still awash in splendid memories of last year’s encounter. I have framed the watercolor pictured below and am looking forward to bringing it out for its first public viewing.

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I am also bringing out a number of plein air experimental watercolors I have made over the past six months.

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This is an exciting time for me, but I’m glad it is only Wednesday. My Jeep is already loaded with all my booth furniture and the only job left for me is to pack the paintings. It is nice to approach the event without feeling my hair is on fire.

My friend Ben Campbell from the Texas State Railroad dropped by the gallery this afternoon. He was one of the first friends I made when we opened The Gallery at Redlands a little over two years ago. He gave me a gift, the book Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for our Common Life, by Makoto Fujimura. I am already immersed in this beautiful literary work. I posted above the quote by David Brooks from an article he published introducing the book. Ben was profoundly moved in his reading of it and purchased an extra copy for me. I love reading the works of reflective minds who manage to steer clear of the frenetic pace set by social media and our culture in general. So, thank you, Ben. This is a timely (in the kairos sense) gift that I am already treasuring. The evening is still young. I’m going to go upstairs and read this volume in the quiet comfort of the Redlands Hotel.

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.

Quiet Moments in the Gallery at Redlands

March 18, 2019

An artist learns by repeated trial and error, by an almost moral instinct, to avoid the merely or the confusingly decorative, . . . to say what he has to say with the most direct and economical means, to be true to his objects, to his materials, to his technique, and hence, by a correlated miracle, to himself.

Irwin Edman, Arts and the Man

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8 x 10″ watercolor sketch in white 11 x 14″ mat–$75

Yesterday (Sunday) was one of those quiet lovely days spent mostly in The Gallery at Redlands. I managed to squeeze out a new painting (above) during those luxurious hours. The historic Redlands Hotel on 400 N. Queen Street in downtown Palestine, Texas is the most lovely place I have ever been privileged to “nest.” Emerson, in his small book Nature, wrote: “in the woods, too, a man casts off his years as the snake his slough and at what period soever of life is always a child”. This is what I experience when I have those moments of walking about in the wild, but I also feel it every time I enter the first floor of the Redlands Hotel. We celebrated the hotel’s 104th birthday on Friday, March 15:

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Jean Mollard, owner of The Redlands Hotel

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First Floor of The Redlands

Every time I descend the stairs of The Redlands, I feel that I am supposed to be smoking a large cigar, my clothing including a vest, watch chain and spats. The space is a veritable museum with a pulse. We anticipate a steady flow of traffic next weekend when the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival commences.

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Station Manager Kevin Harris, Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

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Marc Mitchell (foreground) from “Kevin & Marc in the Morning” Show

Radio Guest Kirk Davis in background

It is now Monday morning, and the hotel is everything but silent. The “Kevin & Marc in the Morning” show, as always, keeps me great company while broadcasting out of this gallery. This morning they featured local artist/writer Kirk Davis who has just come out with a book sharing letters from World War II between his father and mother. His father, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, has left behind a romantic legacy embracing the love of his life as well as his drama in the Pacific theater. Kirk will be under the tent with a number of artists this coming Friday night’s V.I.P. event as well as Saturday 9-4:00, signing copies of his new book and displaying his father’s war memorabilia (including the Medal of Honor) along with his own artistic creations.

When I close this blog, I’ll be preparing for our big events next weekend. In addition to the Friday night V.I.P. party and the Saturday Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival, I will be giving my first ever gallery talk on the subject of “Art in the Small Town.” Using a flat screen TV in the Redlands Hotel lobby, I will be showing images of my “Recollections 54” paintings over the past twenty years that feature small town nostalgic scenes. I have a talk prepared that will feature those who have inspired my own work, notably Edward Hopper’s narrative paintings, along with references from selected American writers who have contributed to our collective memories of the communities that have nurtured us. I am enthusiastic about this event, and thank Jean Mollard for her vision of sponsoring a series of gallery talks for the east Texas community.

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 Search for an Anchor

March 13, 2019

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A Second Snow Scene in Progress

            He kept trying to find among his peers the degree of emotional intensity he had achieved with Howard Pile. “It is the search for living co-workers and the everlasting failure to find one that can measure up to one’s active standard that is the constant source of my depression,” he wrote.

. . .

            Yet he continually wished Chapin would hold him to higher standards. He wanted to be challenged, not only aesthetically but morally, spiritually. Wyeth’s search for an omnipotent male figure had an Eastern quality; he felt that the ideal master should be something of a mystic.

. . .

            “I’m not crazy,” he insisted to Stimson, though as N. C. began his thirties, his search for a spiritual guru often left him feeling unreal. “I’m not holding a living or dead man up as an example of what I should be; I go beyond that—I want to be myself, and better, to be myself without the whole damn world knowing anything about it!”

            But he was holding up a dead man as his model. Taking Walden as his guide, he contended that Thoreau “is my springhead for almost every move I can make” . . .

            He liked to think that if Thoreau were alive, if they could talk an hour every evening, Thoreau would understand him. With Walden in hand, N. C. could “feel his approval surging within me now, and I lay my hand on his precious book . . . with the deepest reverence I am capable of.”

David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

These quiet winter mornings have recently been a genuine salve for my soul. As I sit over a fresh cup of French-pressed coffee, the aroma filling this dark room and Bach playing softly in the background, I am preparing to launch into yet another small watercolor, allowing the one posted above to sit quietly awhile, waiting to see what next to do with it. Five watercolors are scattered about the room, a couple of them probably finished, the other three sitting there saying, “Well?! . . .” My spirit soars when I sense that my creative blood is stirring once again. When I’m on hiatus, I don’t really want to say I am “blocked”, rather I am reading, journaling, thinking, and musing over what to pursue next.

Having ventured over 200 pages into this N. C. Wyeth biography, I feel a primal connection with much that he expressed in his letters and diaries. Currently, I am reading of his constant quest for a spiritual partner or mentor to complete his personhood. As I reflect over my past, I recognize that he and I both circulated between the living and the dead for role models. And we weren’t really looking for someone to imitate, but rather assimilate, absorb and re-apply to the things we were attempting to do in our own lives. N. C. Wyeth did not want to paint like Howard Pyle; he was trying to find his own style and character in his paintings and illustrations. Pyle was a genuine inspiration and guide for him in his early career, and a sounding board when Wyeth wished to road test his new techniques and compositions.

While writing my own memoir, I am constantly sifting through all the men and women who have been my spiritual guides and sounding boards, and like N. C., I often felt that shock of recognition when reading the works of those who had passed in the centuries before me. Much of what N. C. admired in Thoreau’s writings have also smitten me in the past three decades. And frequently, I think of what it would be like to sit in intimate conversation with a Thoreau, an Emerson or a Tillich. So many times when I read them I feel they are writing directly to me, addressing my current condition. And I revel in these encounters. And then, when I am permitted an intimate conversation with a living being in my present, I count that among the richest gifts in life. Such conversations are rare.

I am just a few days from a monster pair of beginning watercolor workshops. More than thirty have already registered for my Saturday event to be held in the Redlands Hotel lobby in Palestine, Texas. I am trying to limit the 10:00 session to twenty participants. It will last three hours (including lunch) and the fee is $30. Then I will hold a second 1:00 session for two hours (no lunch this time) for $20. I already have four committed to the afternoon session. Twenty-eight are trying to crowd into the 10:00 group, but perhaps some of them would prefer to move to the 1:00. We’ll see. The bottom line is that I am pumped to do this! I absolutely love exploring the wonders of watercolor with willing participants. I anticipate a great time together.

Well, let’s see if we can kick some life into this new fledgling painting . . .

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.

Finishing a Small Snowscape

March 12, 2019

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Recent View of Fresh-fallen Snow in High Ridge, Missouri

Wyeth had of course pleased everyone but himself. His apprenticeship now appeared to him shallow and degrading. the Pyle School had been nothing more than a factory where successful pictorial journalists had been–his word–manufactured. He and the others had been “whipped into line,” taught artificial shortcuts, trained to think as the audience thinks, not for themselves as artists.

David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

After more than 200 pages of reading, I am finding it very difficult to put down this volume on N. C. Wyeth. His son Andrew has been my patron saint since high school, but in the past year I have been studying more about N. C., and love his fixation on the writings of Emerson and Thoreau. Now, reading of his training as an illustrator, and his subsequent struggle to navigate his way between the identities of illustrator and painter, I am finding so much to think about as I find my own way as an artist.

This morning I finished the painting I started of the view across my sister’s backyard. The snow was falling heavily that day a couple of weeks ago, and I used a toothbrush to spatter masquing fluid all over the page before commencing the actual painting. The ony part I found most difficult (and rewarding) was the attempt to draw the houses and rooftops peeking through the winter trees. It has been awhile since I studied and sketched winter tree anatomy, and I have missed the experience. I have a second snow scene nearly finished as well, and hope to be  posting that one soon.

Between reading, painting, and preparing materials for my pair of workshops this coming Saturday, there has been little down time. Still, I love the life I’m able to pursue, balancing my reading with my studio art endeavors. I hope I can continue to find room and space for both in my daily life.

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.

Chaotic Dreams

March 11, 2019

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View of Palo Duro Canyon

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Beginning of a Plein-Air Watercolor Sketch

You know, there’s a philosopher who says: as you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos, and random events, non-related events, smashing into each other and causing this situation or that situation, and then, this happens, and it’s overwhelming, and it just looks like what in the world is going on? And later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely crafted novel. but at the time, it don’t.

Joe Walsh, History of the Eagles, 2013 documentary

Blame it on the one-hour time change? Who knows? All I can think of this morning is the night’s attempted sleep just completed: an entire night blistered by an annoying, chaotic, sustained dream. I was put in charge of a community event: a reading of Molière’s play “Tartuffe”. The event was staged in a bowling alley/roller rink, and all of us tried our best to look composed on roller skates as we tried to figure out how to configure the seating: a circle? Rows? Groups? I was put in charge of the reading. Others entered the fray to take charge of casting, costuming, stage props. No matter how hard we tried to organize the event, something always intruded to disrupt whatever flow was initiated. And someone continued to shout from offstage: “Donnie, you’re out of your element!” When I finally awoke, it was still dark (time change) and I just lay there in the pre-dawn, taking the dream seriously. It rang true. We move through life, attempting to organize the chaos enveloping us. We schedule, we keep appointments, we tend to our biological necessities, and continue to move through the 24-hour cycle, handling whatever approaches us. As I write this, I fear my tone will read as one of panic. It isn’t. In fact, when I was a full-time employee, I never really collapsed under this kind of a schedule; I just accepted it as life. Now, being semi-retired, I do indeed feel that I am living a much fuller, more satisfied life, and wish I could have about 500 more years of it. Life is a gift, and I’m grateful for its abundance, even when the abundance comes as an avalanche of chaos.

The weeks ahead will indeed be stuffed with activity. My plan for teaching a 3-hour beginning watercolor workshop next Saturday in Palestine has morphed into back-to-back workshops, since the twenty we restricted the enrollment for has now grown to thirty (and still counting, perhaps?). I’m delighted and shocked to find such an interest. We will hold the event in the lobby of the Redlands Hotel, just down the hall from our gallery. The first session will be at 10:00, the second at 1:00. The first session has filled, but there is still room in the afternoon session. If you are interested, just contact me (you can text me at 817-821-8702) or respond to this blog. We are expecting an exciting day of activity.

The following week will be even busier as we kick off the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival in downtown Palestine. Artists will be featured under a large tent on the parking lot across the street from the Redlands Hotel. Friday night from 7-9, a V.I.P. pre-sale event will feature a meeting with the artists. Tickets are $10 as wine & cheese will be served, and a classical guitarist will provide music. Already we have a good number pre-registered to attend.

The next day from 9-4:00 will be the actual festival, the crowds will be enormous, and the artists are hoping for an excellent day of sales. At 1:00, I will hold my first scheduled Gallery Talk in the lobby of The Redlands Hotel. The topic will be “Art in a Small Town” and my presentation will feature nostalgic portrayals of small-town America in art and literature. The lobby has a large flat-screen TV on which I’ll be able to project visuals during the talk. I have been excited over this opportunity for weeks and have enjoyed immensely the experience of putting the presentation together. This will be my first public presentation on art since retiring from all those years teaching art history in the schools. How nice, finally to present something that is not curriculum-driven (restricted)!

I am posting the beginning of a plein air watercolor sketch I started a couple of evenings ago while visiting Amarillo’s Palo Duro Canyon. The afternoon had been spent in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas. For years I had wanted to visit that institution, knowing that Georgia O’Keeffe had taught at West Texas State Normal College and that this museum had at least one of her early paintings in its collection. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amazing holdings the museum has, not only in Texas panhandle history (this is Texas’s largest history museum), but in paintings. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing amazing landscape paintings from Inness, Moran and N. C. Wyeth. And then spent a long time lingering in a gallery filled with the amazing work of Frank Reaugh. Upon leaving the museum, it was only fitting to travel to the canyon and spend some time sketching the horizon as the sun dropped low in the sky.

My past weeks have been devoted mostly to traveling, reading and journaling. I finished Virginia Woolf’s engaging Mrs. Dalloway and am now nearly 200 pages into N. C. Wyeth: A Biography by David Michaelis. I also have four small watercolors in progress that I hope to post on the blog soon.

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Completed Watercolor Sketch

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.

Return to Painting as Festival Season Nears

March 2, 2019

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Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Palestine, Texas

It feels good, picking up the brush again. This is a small (8 x 10″) watercolor of the church across the street from The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas. I painted the church on a larger scale a year ago:

Sacred Heart

Art activity will be heating up soon in Palestine. On March 16, I have twenty students lined up for a beginning watercolor workshop I will lead in the lobby of The Redlands Hotel. The following weekend will kick off the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival. On Friday night, March 22, a V.I.P. pre-sale will be conducted under a large tent featuring twenty artists on display. The event will include wine and cheese, along with live classical guitar. I’m fortunate to be one of the artists under the tent, along with a host of artist-friends I’m proud to join.

The next day, March 23, features the main festival, from 9-4:00, with the artists’ displays still on view, hopefully accompanied with high sales. At 1:00, I’ll hold my first “gallery talk” inside the lobby of The Redlands Hotel. My topic will be “Art in a Small Town”, involving a nostalgic look at small town America through paintings and literature. I’ve been working on this presentation for some time now, and am looking forward with great anticipation to the event.

 

Thoughts Amidst the Show

December 1, 2018

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My Booth on the Ground Floor (formerly a bowling alley!)

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Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm Street, Dallas

The crystal sphere of thought is as concentrical as the geological structure of the globe. As our soils and rocks lie in strata, concentric strata, so do all men’s thinkings run laterally, never vertically. Here comes by a great inquisitor with auger and plumb-line, and will bore an Artesian well through our conventions and theories, and pierce to the core of things. But as soon as he probes the crust, behold gimlet, plumb-line, and philosopher take a lateral direction in spite of all resistance, as if some strong wind took everything off its feet, and if you come month after month to see what progress our reformer has made,–not an inch has he pierced,–you still find him with new words in the old place, floating about in new parts of the same old vein or crust. The new book says, ‘I will give you the key to nature,’ and we expect to go like a thunderbolt to the centre. But the thunder is a surface phenomenon, makes a skin-deep cut, and so does the sage. The wedge turns out to be a rocket. Thus a man lasts but a very little while, for his monomania becomes insupportably tedious in a few months. It is so with every book and person: and yet–and yet–we do not take up a new book, or meet a new man without a pulse-beat of expectation. And this invincible hope of a more adequate interpreter is the sure prediction of his advent.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Method of Nature”

Wow. Just wow! I had a few moments to read this morning before leaving for Dallas for the second day of our 40th annual Randy Brodnax and Friends Christmas Art Show at the Sons of Hermann Hall. Last night was such a special time, as this time of the year in this place always is. I feel that throughout this day, I’ll be thinking on these remarkable words of Emerson that have truly rocked my thought-world this morning.

Wish I had time to write more, but I have to dash. 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.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave, Ezra Pound, and a Swirling Fog of Tasks

November 28, 2018

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Genius… is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one.
Ezra Pound

Clouds of thoughts thicker than swarms of mosquitoes greeted my waking moments this morning. Having now showered, dressed, made coffee, finished breakfast and taken a seat at my favorite writing desk, I assumed the clouds would have dispersed, or at least thinned by now. Not to be. Two large queues of college work wait for grading, and my self-imposed deadline says “Get that done today” (I also sent a promised email to all students last evening). The Brodnax and Friends 40th Annual Christmas Show opens at the Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas Friday evening and I have devoted this entire day to packaging my latest inventory. Tomorrow I load the Jeep and leave for my gallery in Palestine to gather the rest of my freight for a Friday morning load-in and set up. A stack of 100 stamped greeting cards lies at my elbow. A Mail Chimp invitation still needs to be composed and emailed out to the rest of my online friends who have registered for updates. I am three-quarters finished with reading  Hiking with Nietzsche and yesterday I picked up a copy of Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf to read for the second time in about thirty years. No matter how busy my day, I force myself to read for awhile in the morning to get my mind “centered” somewhat. And there is still this Ezra Pound 5 x 7″ collage that I haven’t quite decided whether or not is finished or needs further attention.

So, if Ezra Pound’s quote above is to be taken seriously, then I am a genius. Since I have my last Logic class of the semester tomorrow morning, I supposed it is also appropriate to  begin thinking in terms of propositional logic and convert “If Ezra pound is accurate, then I am a genius” to symbolic form:

E ⸧ G

Now, having done that, I am going to finish my coffee, read awhile, then attack this fog of tasks that will not go away.

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.