Archive for the ‘art festival’ Category

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.

 

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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.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave and Walt Whitman

November 2, 2018
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In The Gallery at Redlands, Working on Whitman Collages & Greeting Cards

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, 
Healthy, free, the world before me, 
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, 
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, 
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, 
Strong and content I travel the open road. 
Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road”
Yesterday, after class, I set off for Palestine to work in my gallery and make preparations for the weekend Genny Wood Art Show & Sale. After the two-hour drive through the country, enjoying the bright sun and 60-degree weather, and filled with the ecstasies of Kerouac’s odyssey, I decided upon reaching Palestine to spend some time outdoors. I had spent too much time the past few weeks chasing deadlines. Finding a park bench beneath an enormous shade tree, I sat in the cool, took a cleansing breath, and opened my volume of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.  Reading Kerouac’s On the Road yesterday prompted me to look up Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” today. He published this poem the year after his Leaves of Grass took flight, and the adrenaline was apparently still surging through his creative consciousness. My heart floods with good sentiments every time I read verses such as this from Whitman’s hand.
After five years of reading rave reviews of his Leaves of Grass (some of which he published anonymously himself!), he felt the time had come to publish a second edition of this collection of poems. There was only one problem–he had reached ebb tide and his creative surge had faltered. Perhaps he was still too young (first edition came out when he was thirty-seven) to realize that creative output is cyclical. At any rate, he was feeling morose and second-guessing whether or not he had genuine talent or was just over-sold with that first edition.
While walking pensively one evening along the seashore, he composed a poem that reflected his sagging sentiments of the time: “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life”–
O baffled, balk’d, bent to the very earth, 
Oppress’d with myself that I have dared to open my mouth, 
Aware now that amid all that blab whose echoes recoil upon me I have not once had the least idea who or what I am, 
But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet untouch’d, untold, altogether unreach’d, 
Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory signs and bows, 
With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have written, 
Pointing in silence to these songs, and then to the sand beneath.
Whitman’s second edition of Leaves of Grass contains a number of troubled verses replete with his second-guessing. As we all know, he got over it eventually. The surge returned, and the collection of twelve poems grew to over five hundred, as he remained prolific throughout his life.
This is why I read so much biography–I want to learn all I can from these creative heroes about the dynamics of creative eros, including those barren times when the winds of inspiration have stilled, and how they addressed the problem.  At this very moment I am tired, exhausted. But not depressed, not panicky. I am confident that quality time for creating will offer itself up to me again, and that I will be ready to answer the bell. But for now, the appointments are joined end-to-end, it is the high season for art festivals and shows, the semester at the university is entering its final stretch run, and there is much demanded from me. I thank God that I am (semi) retired, have my health, and at least don’t have to answer to a Monday-Friday, 40-hour a week job. Life is much better now, and at least I can find the time to sit beneath a shade tree, read, reflect, and think about where I am going next. I have never been happier, even when tired.
Today I am packing up the Gallery to take to the Genny Wood Art Show & Sale at the Bullard First United Methodist Church Family Life Center. Today I will enjoy seeing my artist friends again as we set up, and the show will run all day Saturday. Below are a pair of photos of my booth from last year. I am hoping to make a much better display this year. Among my offerings will be collages of my creative heroes, including Walt Whitman and Jack Kerouac.
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Last Year’s Display at the Genny Wood Art Show & Sale

Smooth Rock 93.5 FM is humming along in fine fashion as I write this. I cannot describe how much I enjoy my new “roommates” as they broadcast out of this gallery, looking out their “Window to the World.” The Redlands Hotel is decorating for Christmas and yesterday began bringing decorations into the gallery and studio. The “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” show broadcasts live from 7-10 a.m. Monday through Friday. You can stream it on your computer, and even get the app for your android or I-phone.

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“Kevin & Marc in the Morning”–Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

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.

 

Meet Orlando Guillen

October 27, 2018

20181027_1304334581623497241478022.jpgEmerging Artist Orlando Guillen

Orlando introduced himself to me a couple of weeks ago at the Edom Art Festival, giving me his card and letting me know he would be at this Hot Pepper Festival today. I’m glad his phone number was on the card, because the 12-block city event has no map or information tent. I would never have found him because he is in Old Town Palestine across the street from one of my favorite dining places.

Orlando works in an auto body shop and fashions his art from scrap parts. I was astounded when I saw the quality and sophistication of his dogwood blossoms and branches. Palestine is a big draw during the Dogwood Festival every March, and I hope these find a home next time the crowds come to town.

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Dogwood Blossoms made from Automobile Scrap Parts

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Orlando’s Booth across the Street from the Pint and Barrel

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If anyone in the area is reading this today, and planning to attend our Hot Pepper Festival, please visit Orlando at his “Crazy Turtle Art” booth. He is located in front of the coffee shop and across the street from Pint and Barrel.

Thanks for reading.

 

Morning Coffee: The Calm Before the Calm

October 27, 2018

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Smooth Rock 93.5 FM before the Morning Broadcast

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Working on a Watercolor before the Festival Begins

Good morning to all of you, just ahead of the Hot Pepper Festival in downtown Palestine, Texas. What a beautiful day, already, bright and sunny with temperatures expected to top out in the seventies.

I awoke in the darkness, staying in my favorite store in rural east Texas. In the darkness of the kitchen I began re-reading with delight over breakfast Natalie Goldberg’s The Great Spring. The Zen-quality of her writing produced a great calm that I much appreciate on a festival day. Thanks to Natalie, I believe I am now experiencing the calm before the calm as I prepare for this festival day.

When I arrived in Palestine shortly after 8:00, I walked through block after block of vendors setting up their booths, and was so glad that this time I was NOT doing that activity (I just went through it, in the rain, a couple of weeks ago). Today I am in The Gallery at Redlands with Kevin Harris and Marc Mitchell. They are in and out of the gallery already, getting their new T-shirts out on display, and making final preparations for today’s broadcast. They are promoting the Hot Pepper Festival, and with this being their third week on the air, they can already feel the adrenaline rush of crowds building outside their “Window to the World”.  The parade is about to commence.

I am looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with emerging artist Orlando Guillen this morning. A couple of weeks ago, he introduced himself to me at the Edom Art Festival, just before the rains arrived and closed us down for good. Orlando told me he was setting up a booth, so I’ll have to go out and find him somewhere in this 12-block conglomeration of displays. Walking the streets this morning, I had the pleasure of meeting a first-time festival participant, Ashley Sturdivant. I still recall the excitement (and anxiety) of my very first art festival years ago. Ashley has a wonderful display set up and we’re all wishing her success in sales today.

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Display of Emerging Artist Ashley Sturdivant

We have a splendid day before us. As I write, the parade has just begun, and I am listening to Kevin and Marc’s live commentary on the floats passing by. I’m delighted that The Redlands Hotel has invited me to display my art out in the lobby of the hotel in addition to what I have inside The Gallery at Redlands.

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My Lobby Display

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“Kevin and Marc in the Morning” covering the Parade Live

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Marc Mitchell, sporting the new T-Shirt on sale today

The Red Fire Grille, across the lobby from The Gallery at Redlands, will be serving lunch on this auspicious day, from 10:00-2:00. The food here is fist-rate.

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The Red Fire Grille

After eighteen months of displaying out of The Redlands Hotel, I am still making the most precious friendships. Wade and Gail Thomas, owners of the gallery, are always there for me and unfailing in their encouragement and enthusiasm. Jean Mollard, owner of the Redlands Hotel, has welcomed me into this home-away-from-home since day one, and always introduces me to guests as “our Artist in Residence.” Kevin and Marc bring such energy to this place with their radio presence, but in addition to that, they are amazing men whom I am so proud to call “friends.” Conversations I have enjoyed with them in just the past three weeks have been life transforming.

Yesterday, I met a local writer, Jan Johnson, currently writing a work of fiction set in Palestine, drawing on her years of experience in this environment. Always, I feel so enriched when given the opportunity to converse with a writer, and I invite you to check out her work at http://www.janicejohnson.wordpress.com.

I’ve been at this laptop too long, and my coffee cup is empty. It is time to get back out into the booths and meet more artists. So, until next time, this is Dave signing off at the Gallery at Redlands along with Kevin and Marc in the Morning at Smooth Rock 93.5 FM, located in the beautiful historic Redlands Hotel in downtown Palestine.

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 Dawn: In the Gallery with my Radio Roommates

October 26, 2018

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The Gallery at Redlands and Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

400 N. Queen St., Palestine, Texas

Waking and rising at 1:30 a.m. was not in my weekend plans. Sheer exhaustion drove me to bed at 8:00 last night. Since the Redlands Hotel is completely booked for the Hot Pepper Festival this weekend, I am afforded the opportunity of spending my nights in that old general store/residence that I have come to love so much. It is an hour’s drive out of Palestine, and remotely located on a dirt road. When I drove on to the property last night, three deer stood in front of the store to greet me.

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The Old General Store

This morning is one of those rare occasions for me to spend time in The Gallery at Redlands while my new roommates broadcast the “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” show on Smooth Rock 93.5 FM., just across the room. As I write this, they are already setting up shop in the broadcast booth. Their show airs from 6 to 10 weekday mornings. You can stream them live on https://www.smoothrock935.com/

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Kevin and Marc are both professional musicians. Marc’s band “blindpursuit” will be live in the studio this morning. Later today, the activity will increase as vendors arrive to begin setting up their booths in the streets outside. The festival will cover twelve blocks downtown. Kevin and Marc are promoting the event and will broadcast on location from 10:00 to 1:00 Saturday.

Last year, I set up my booth on the street. This year I have decided to stay inside the gallery, and the Redlands Hotel has invited me to extend my display into the hotel lobby.  I spent yesterday re-configuring the gallery to accommodate new work I have brought in, and today I’ll work in the lobby, setting up Pro Panels and hanging additional pieces.

Sorry to make this brief, but we’re crazy-busy today. Thanks for reading.

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View of the Gallery with Marc Broadcasting

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View of the Gallery with Kevin Broadcasting

Musings of Gratitude

June 30, 2018

Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful; patience is everything!”

Rainer Rilke, in a letter to his young disciple Franz Xaver Kappus

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The Adobe Western Art Gallery located in the Stockyards in Fort Worth

Many days have slid past without my posting a blog. The online summer school class has kept me busy, as well as everyday matters that demand attention as well. Summers can be dog days for the artist, but I’m grateful that they offer a long spread of time to make art while the galleries and festivals slide into their annual hiatus. And with summer school ending next week, I’ve packed my art and fly fishing gear and am ready to take off for some serious fishing and plein air painting.

I love the quote from Rilke, and laugh at the impatience I suffered needlessly over the decades. In my senior years, things are making more sense, and my art is bringing me more pleasure than ever before. I’m proud to announce that I have been accepted into the Adobe Western Art Gallery at 2400 North Main ‘Street, in the Stockyards at Fort Worth. I have heard artists speak in awe of this gallery over the past ten years, and always wondered what it would like to be on the inside. My friend Wade Thomas, who leases the Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, pitched my work to the manager, and he invited me in. Currently I have only giclee prints in the gallery, but originals have been requested and I’m working earnestly on filling the order. I’m extremely grateful for this exposure.

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My Set-up for the M.A.D.E. festival at Stage West in Fort Worth

Tomorrow (Sunday) from noon till five p.m., I’ll be at Stage West Theater for their annual M.A.D.E. (music, art, drinks, eats) festival. I had good times here for two years, then missed last year because it occurred during my Colorado vacation. I’m delighted this year to learn that I did not lose my place in line. In fact, they assigned me Booth #1. This will be first time I have been in the front gallery of the event. This will be my only summer art event, as Texas doesn’t seem interested in holding indoor events, and the temperatures today soared to 106 degrees. I’m glad that Stage West has the vision to put on this indoor show.

Thank you for reading. I hope to post again soon, because I have exciting news about changes on the way at the Gallery at Redlands in Palestine.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

A Shout-Out to a New Writer Friend

June 15, 2018

I awoke abruptly this Friday morning from a deep REM sleep blistering with those frustrating dreams that reveal so much about our unresolved issues. I won’t go into it–I laugh at that common sentiment that says “Don’t tell me about your dream. It’s yours. It interests you, not me.” Without going into the details, I’ll just say that the dream involved me dropping the ball, yet again, on something that should have been done. After I scribbled out pages and pages in my journal, trying to unpack the ideas before they evaporated, my mind suddenly suddenly recalled yet another important detail I have not addressed. So now I try .  .  .

I met Jonnie Martin about a month ago while sitting in my booth at an art festival. She was very engaging in conversation, I learned she was a serious writer (already with novels published) and a passionate one at that. She also had pursued journalism for many years. Now she is neck deep in her first adjunct professor experience at Tarrant County College, and is sweating out the details of getting a writing course on track for this fall’s semester.

Jonnie reached out to me the week after the art festival, asking permission to write a series of articles about me. This certainly gave me pause. I have believed for years that I was “interesting” enough for an article or two, yet every time a newspaper or magazine or radio personality would approach me for my story, I felt paralyzed, and felt that I should articulate that stereotyped police line: “There’s nothing to see here, folks. Move on along.” But with Jonnie it was different. She was thorough, asking for my professional resume, and providing a long list of specific questions. And I really enjoyed answering the questions and providing the document.

Despite all her energy spent on the college course for this fall, she is still trying to set up a feature article for me in a local magazine. Meanwhile, she has posted the following on her blog and I’m extremely proud to read it. And I encourage you to read her blog at: https://jonnietootling.com

I am posting her article below, but please, read her other entries. She is a most engaging writer, satisfying the serious reader on many levels.

And thank you for reading me.

KINDRED ARTIST

Posted on June 10, 2018by jonnietootling

Arlington artist David Tripp describes his quest as one of capturing onto canvas the world he sees in his mind, and that is not unlike the role of a writer.  Akin to David, we too apprehend, interpret, report out our vision in a variety of literary forms.

For David, his current art form is watercolor, which happens to be my favorite medium, and is how David and I first connected at a recent Arlington art festival.  There is a natural feel to watercolors, a gentleness, a transparency as your eye sifts through the layers of paint and water and meaning, and David’s technique is exquisite.

Thumb through the art that he brings to a festival and you will find paintings of old buildings, abandoned service stations, relics of yesteryear.  Since 2017 he has been focusing on the structures that reflect the past of the Texas State Railroad, as well as the historical sites and artifacts of the little town of Palestine, Texas.

I have learned other fascinating things about David, including his formal education in art, his high school and college teaching credentials, his endowments and honors of various types.  Students at Martin High School see his art daily in the murals painted throughout their building.  David’s art is available at various festivals and The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine is now the permanent home for his collection.

All this is of interest as I learn about David and observe him through my writer’s eyes . . . but what enthralls me most is his philosophical approach to the role of artist — capturing onto canvas what he perceives with his artist’s eyes, processes through his artist’s mind.

In one of his blogs he quotes a passage from Goethe:  “The beginning and the end of all literary activity is the reproduction of the world that surrounds me by means of the world that is in me, all things being grasped, related, molded, and reconstructed in personal form and an original manner.”

Clearly this process applies to artists as well as writers.

I shared the quote with our family philosopher, my brother Del McAmis, who was equally fascinated, and responded with his own deconstruction of the phrase. 

“We think there is a one-on-one relationship between the objective world and how we see it, but that is very naïve.  We don’t just ‘see’ things – we mold them and reconstruct them according to our own psychology. . . .  The great writer [and I should add to Del’s note, the great artist] is one who can ‘mold and reconstruct’ his or her experiences into an understanding that enlightens others.”

And so it begins – my quest to learn more about David, his art, his creative ideology, his deep and grounded thoughts about life, at least partially coming from his scholarly education in not only art, but philosophy and religion.

But that is for another exploration, in which I have apparently been joined by brother Del.  Hold on, David Tripp – inquisitive minds want to know more about you. 

— Jonnie Martin

A Quiet, Restful Sunday

May 27, 2018

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Relaxing in The Gallery at Redlands after Saturday’s Depot Exhibit

I sensed a direct line from the eminent figures of ancient Greece–Aeschylus, Sophocles, Phidias–down to [Paul Tillich] himself. Each seemed to me intensely vital; each lived with a seriousness that was not sober; each knew that death would come sooner or later and that there was therefore no time for prevarication or dishonesty with oneself. Each burned with the gemlike flame that comes from the knowledge that we are on this crust of earth for our little moment to build our machines or think and speak our thoughts or sing our poems. 

Rollo May, Paulus: Reminscences of a Friendship

I am deeply grateful for this Sunday of restoration. Over the past forty-eight hours, I’ve driven long distances, set up and broken down a booth for my art exhibit, and sat for an entire day in a hot and extremely humid environment. The labor paid off wonderfully, but today I feel spent, and am happy to regather my strength. It’s been awhile since I read Paul Tillich’s work, and I thought I would begin the morning with some re-reading of the testimony of his most famous student, psychologist Rollo May. A good friend has given me a copy of Tillich’s Dynamics of Faith, and I’ve enjoyed reading sections of it during my quiet moments this weekend.

I was invited to display my railroad art at the opening of the Texas State Railroad’s new season that features excursion train rides from Palestine to Rusk. My day at the Palestine Depot was very rewarding, as the depot sold 280 tickets for the day’s train ride, and many rail enthusiasts visited my tent, made purchases, and engaged me in intriguing conversations concerning their connections to our rich railroad history.

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My Booth outside the Palestine Depot

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Afternoon train returning to Palestine from Rusk, finishing the Inaugural run of the New Season

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A Pair of Vintage Locomotives towed out from the Palestine Train Shed

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Gorgeous Evening Vista following my All-Day Depot Exhibition

I could not resist pulling my Jeep over last night to try and capture the scintillating colors emanating from the clouds that hovered over this church in Palestine. I’m thinking seriously of getting out the watercolors to see if I can capture some of that billowy dynamic of the amazing clouds I saw.

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Sunday Morning view from Second-Floor Balcony of the Redlands Hotel

Rising early this Sunday morning, I took my coffee out to my favorite balcony of this historic hotel. The winds were cool, and the train yard seemed to be working overtime, as I watched eleven diesels move through the yards in fifteen minutes. Of course, I could not stop staring at the Chamber of Commerce Building on the right which used to be the headquarters for the railroad during the earlier parts of this century. I have done four watercolors of the structure from this angle.

The day has been restful, and I close with the repeated note of gratitude for quality rest following an arduous schedule.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

My Toolbox

May 24, 2018

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Two Days of Delicious Down-Time

The mind races around like a foraging squirrel in a park, grabbing in turn at a flashing phone screen, a distant mark on the wall, a clink of cups, a cloud that resembles a whale, a memory of something a friend said yesterday, a twinge in a knee, a pressing deadline, a vague expectation of nice weather later, a tick of the clock. Some Eastern meditation techniques aim to still this scurrying creature, but the extreme difficulty of this shows how unnatural it is to be mentally inert. Left to itself, the mind reaches out in all directions as long as it is awake–and even carries on doing it in the dreaming phase of its sleep.

Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Cafe

During my 48-hour respite between appointments, I have enjoyed sleeping longer hours and devouring this book (over one hundred pages into it on this second day) by Sarah Bakewell. In the past week, I have enjoyed three days of primitive camping with a friend and an all-day road trip across Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Now, I stop before heading to Palestine to set up my booth for an all-day display and sale of my railroad art to coincide with the opening day of the new season of the Palestine-to-Rusk excursion train rides. On Saturday, they will tow their historic steam locomotives out of their sheds to sit in the open air all day to the delight of photographers, videographers and adventurers buying tickets to board the train that makes its first run at 10 a.m.

In an earlier post, I mentioned the frenzied schedule that has driven my life the past couple of weeks. Once this weekend finishes, the spastic race will be completed. Approaching the one-year anniversary of my retirement, I grin in acknowledgment of the many who said I would be busier in retirement than when I worked full-time. They were right. But there remains a major distinction–as a student said to me a couple of months ago: “If you like what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” How true. I have not worked in nearly a year; what I do now provides me pure pleasure, even if it tires me out from time to time.

What I want to talk about now is my toolbox, my central aid to coping with life. I’m speaking of my education. I have been aware of what I am about to write for a number of years now, but never tried to put it on the printed page. I came from a family that did not pursue the university. Mom and Dad were reared in farm country after the Depression, and were sent to the one-room school till they were sturdy enough to work in the fields, she for four years, he for three. They learned to read, write and do simple math. My brother entered the Marine Corps, my sister a two-year secretarial school. All of my family members received the education needed to pursue their respective occupations. As for me, I was always the least practical of the brood. I was the artist, the dreamer, with no clue of a profession.

I entered the university because my art skills landed me a scholarship, not because of academic prowess. During my years of Bachelor’s study, I awoke, late, to the world of ideas, and entered the ministry. That led me on to seminary where I earned the M.Div. and Ph.D. The life of the mind was what grew in me, and once my education was completed, I entered the teaching profession, twenty-eight years of full-time high school, along with thirty years of adjunct university.

Throughout those nearly forty years of post-high school odyssey, the river that carried me was a torrent of ideas gleaned from books, from art, from music, from travels, and from thoughts scribbled into journals (over 130 volumes now). That collection of ideas has become my toolbox, my coping mechanism for understanding and navigating life. This magnificent book that has so held me the past couple of days describes existentialism through the lens of biography. Because of my past dealings with Sartre, Heidegger, Jaspers and Merleau-Ponty, I’m reading the volume with elation, thankful for the tools given me in past educational settings.

I have felt the sentiments of those who view reading and thinking as a waste of time. I learned long ago that those practices matter very much to me, and they have been my sustenance. Maurice Merleau-Ponty put it this way: “Life becomes ideas, and the ideas return to life.”

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.