Archive for the ‘art festival’ Category

The New Byzantium

March 16, 2023

The Gallery at Redlands (Lobby Window)

The Gallery at Redlands (Oak Street Window)

V.I.P. Artists Tent (Oak Street across from The Gallery at Redlands)

I think if I could be given a month of Antiquity and leave to spend it where I chose, I would spend it in Byzantium a little before Justinian opened St. Sophia and closed the Academy of Plato. . . . I think that in early Byzantium, maybe never before or since in recorded history, religious, aesthetic and practical life were one, that architect and artificers spoke to the multitude and the few alike. The painter, the mosaic worker, the worker in gold and silver, the illuminator of sacred books, were almost impersonal, almost perhaps without the consciousness of individual design, absorbed in their subject-matter and that the vision of a whole people.

William Butler Yeats, A Vision

In less than 24 hours, artists will arrive and begin setting up the 32 booths inside the V.I.P. tent. Today, with cold winds swirling and light rain sprinkling, I have walked all over this part of the city, feeling the spirit of William Butler Yeats and his vision of Byzantium. Already today I have visited with electricians, carpenters, work crews inside the tent, patrons inside the gallery, local artists dropping by to offer assistance, merchants, delivery truck drivers, city officials, police officers–everyone focused on the enormous task at hand. This tent experience already feels like a small village abuzz and under construction.

This will be the third year I’ve felt this “New Byzantium” vibe with all the warmth and unity of artists, musicians, writers and performers working alongside the craftsmen and technical people to put on this show. The stories I read of sixth-century Byzantium and mid-century Manhattan still fill me with enthusiasm. East Texas has spontaneously generated art communities in all the surrounding towns. Palestine has been enriched with the friendship of artists from Tyler, Crockett, Jacksonville, Winnsboro, Athens, Bullard, and Edom (and I’m probably leaving out other towns). Art galleries and performance venues are cropping up everywhere like wild mushrooms and the residents of the towns are aglow with this fresh spirit.

I hope to have time to write more later. 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.


If you Build It, They Will Come

March 16, 2023

View of the Big Tent across the Street From The Gallery at Redlands

It is actually a double tent combined into one cavernous whole

Artists toil in cells all over Manhattan. We have a monk’s devotion to our work–and, like monks, some of us will be visited by visions and others will toil out our days knowing glory only at a distance . . .

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

In less than 48 hours, thirty-two artists will descend upon Palestine to set up their creations beneath this gigantic tent. The crew finished erecting the structure today, and already we’ve been measuring out the booth spots inside the cavernous space. Excitement is building. All over town we have volunteers working on a myriad of tasks, and my head spins just thinking about it.

In the midst of this flurry of activity, The Gallery at Redlands stayed quite busy with patrons coming in throughout the day. I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve enjoyed such extended conversations as I have with this afternoon’s and evening’s visitations. I’m thrilled every time I find myself in the company of kindred spirits who love art, books, and the precious memories of our past experiences.

The weekend is going to be chilly but the art experience will be hot! Patrons attending the Friday night VIP event under the tent will receive in exchange for their $20 admission (available at the entrance) an evening of art splendor seasoned with live acoustical music, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and drinks from Stella Artois and Roadhouse Liquor. Patrons will have the first chance to make purchases from the artists’ booths.

Saturday from 9-4:00 will be the Festival proper, the streets lined with vendor booths, food trucks, children’s entertainment, live music on stage and a parade. Thousands of visitors will flood the streets downtown, and admission to the art tent throughout the day is free.

The Gallery at Redlands will be open, hosted by gallery artists Steve Miller, Kathy Lamb and Amanda Hukill. I will also tend the gallery as much as possible while also responding to needs under the tent. We want to make sure all the artists are tended. Gallery at Redlands artists under the tent include Deanna Pickett-Frye, Cecilia Bramhall and Orlando Guillen.

We’re also excited to host local artist William E. Young under the tent as well. He will be selling signed & numbered editions of his latest acrylic painting celebrating this annual festival. The painting will be unveiled at a special Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event tomorrow. More on that later.

Neita Fran Ward, a premier art agent from neighboring Tyler, will also welcome patrons to her booth under the tent Friday and Saturday. Sandi and I only became acquainted with Neita over this past year, and deeply appreciate her enduring friendship. The work she devotes to promoting the arts in East Texas has been extremely fruitful these recent years, and we’re looking forward to her perennial exhibits that enrich the University of Texas Tyler Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacology. Her Saturday morning show, “The Art Connection of East Texas, on KTBB 97.5 FM, has been a delight to local listeners, and last weekend I had the privilege of taking part in her show with William E. Young and Greg Gunnels, president of our Dogwood Arts Council.

If you are in our area, you won’t want to miss this weekend’s celebration. For the past couple of years, I’ve been captivated by this artistic fervor that has spread across East Texas. In my personal studies, I’ve been looking seriously at parallels between our East Texas experiences and those shared in sixth-century Byzantium and mid-twentieth-century New York City. I want to close this blog by sharing a comment received on this blog two years ago when we were celebrating this event under the tent and drawing our parallels with the New York City experience. I had devoted several blogs building up to the event and then discussing the festival itself. My life-long friend Wayne White from Missouri had made the trip and exhibited his photography with us. Following the festival, he and I had plans to return to Missouri by way of Oklahoma so we could fly-fish the stream at Beaver’s Bend State Park. Here is the communication we received:

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.

That sculptor probably has no idea how much her message lifted me that day, and has remained with me. When I received it on my phone, I gathered The Twelve around me, read the message aloud, and they all broke out in spontaneous applause. No doubt this remains one of my most memorable experiences in this wonderful life of the arts.

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.

Kicking off a Busy Art Week

March 13, 2023

Quality “Executive Time” this morning

Hello art friends. The weekend was end-to-end action in Palestine, Texas, so I found no time to stop and blog. We have the 85th annual Dogwood Art & Music Festival arriving this Friday and Saturday, March 17-18. In a couple of days, an enormous tent will be erected by two crews that will cover the entire parking lot across the street from The Redland Hotel. Friday morning, thirty-two artists will arrive to set up for the VIP event that will run from 5-9:00. Tickets for the Friday night VIP event are $20 that provide the patron access to heavy hors d’oeuvres and an open bar hosted by Stella Artois and Roundhouse Liquor. There will also be live acoustic music, and patrons will have the first opportunity to purchase art from the artists who were carefully juried into this show, a host of paintings, photography, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, glass-making, fibers, and graphic design. Tickets may be purchased at the tent’s entrance. We’re expecting a blockbuster night with nearly twice the number of artists featured than last year.

Saturday’s festival will run 9-4:00. A parade will open the morning’s festivities, and the entire Palestine downtown will witness thousands filling the streets lined with merchandise booths, food vendors, live music, children’s entertainment, and of course, the Art Tent which will have free admission, as well as adding several booths of work created by local high school students.

This will be the fifth year of the massive Art Tent addition to this long-running festival. Local artist William E. Young, son of the famous Ancel E. Nunn, will be in our celebrity booth under the tent, offering for sale signed and numbered editions of his fifth and final installment of art commemorating this festival. Every year, William has created acrylic paintings of whimsical animal musicians busking in the streets in front of historic Palestine landmarks. I can’t wait to show you his latest contribution; it will be unveiled Thursday at a special event and must be kept under wraps until then. But below you can see the artist from last year under the tent, standing among his previous four editions:

Artist William E. Young

This year I have chosen not to occupy a booth under the Big Tent, but let my work remain in our Gallery at Redlands across the street, and instead be on hand to assist the artists with the loading in, registration and setting up. During the times I’ll be helping under the Tent, we have been fortunate to enlist the help of several of our gallery artists in keeping the Gallery at Redlands open and operational. They will be bringing in new work of their own to add to the already existing work in our gallery exhibit, and offering their pieces for sale. These artists include Steve Miller, Kathy Lamb and Amanda Hukill. You will truly enjoy visiting with them in the Gallery as well as meeting the VIP artists under the tent. Three other gallery artists from our group will have their work under the tent: Deanna Pickett-Frye, Cecilia Bramhall and Orlando Guillen. Sandi and I are proud that The Gallery at Redlands will be well-represented in this Festival.

The hour is getting late, the laundry is nearly done, and we have a multitude of chores bearing down on us before we return to Palestine. As chairperson of Hospitality, Sandi has been working overtime for several weeks now, and there appears to be no letting up in the remaining days before the celebration. I will be doing a demonstration and leading a watercolor workshop in Granbury Tuesday before heading to Palestine, anticipating that Sandi will get there ahead of me.

Maybe tomorrow I can share some of my current ideas about journaling. I’ve chosen to snap a few pictures of recent journal doodlings from my “executive time” bliss. When I go back to read old journals, I’ve found it easier to flip to the start of each day by having some kind of collage assembly embellish the page before I scribble out the stuff that’s on my mind.

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.

Back to Work

March 3, 2023

16 x 20″ watercolor underway

The sketch hunter has delightful days of drifting about among people, in and out of the city, going anywhere, everywhere, stopping as long as he likes–no need to reach any point, moving in any direction following the call of interests. He moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves, but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketchbook, a box of oils with a few small panels, the fit of his pocket, or on his drawing pad. Like any hunter he hits or misses. He is looking for what he loves, he tries to capture it. It’s found anywhere, everywhere. Those who are not hunters do not see these things. The hunter is leaning to see and to understand–to enjoy.

There are memories of days of this sort, of wonderful driftings in and out of the crowd, of seeing and thinking. Where are the sketches that were made? Some of them are in dusty piles, some turned out to be so good they got frames, some became motives for big pictures, which were either better or worse than the sketches, but they, or rather the states of being and understandings we had at the time of doing them all, are sifting through and leaving their impress on our whole work and life.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I open this blog, after a lengthy hiatus, with this soulful selection from Robert Henri, one of my heroes of art history. The man was truly a prophet, a visionary, capable of inspiring a circle of illustrators to become great artists, including one of my favorites, Edward Hopper. Throughout my life I have sought out role models, and what Henri has provided me as a template for life is this: the artist has value as teacher as well as creator. Throughout my decades of teaching in public schools and universities I often fretted that I lacked quality time for making art because of the teaching responsibilities. Now retired, I am discovering that teaching remains as important to life’s enrichment as creating. Now that Sandi and I own The Gallery at Redlands, I am surprised at the demand for art classes here in the gallery, and am loving every minute of these opportunities. I just finished a class yesterday in perspective drawing, and have a watercolor class filling up for tomorrow afternoon.

On top of all of this, I am still finding time to fulfill my dream as Henri’s “sketch hunter”–I have five new watercolors now in progress that have been cooking in my visual consciousness for weeks now as I’ve traveled about and spotted locations I wished to capture in sketchbooks and watercolor pads. Several completed watercolors are in storage, awaiting frames. Less successful ones are also in storage for future evaluation. Limited editions have also been processed, including my recent Clydesdale piece:

I’m proud that the first edition went out the door before I had a chance to make labels. These are now available in The Gallery at Redlands, measuring 11″(h) x 15″(w) and priced at $100 unframed.

The only reason for my recent blog hiatus has been demands in other areas preventing my sitting down to the computer. Our 85th annual Dogwood Art and Music Festival will descend upon Palestine March 17-18. Sandi has done ten times the amount of work I have in preparing for this. So have other members of the Dogwood Arts Council. We have reason to believe this will be our best festival yet, as we have a large tent covering the parking lot across the street from The Redlands Hotel that will feature 32 artists in their booths. This will be the first time I’ve opted out of being under the tent, keeping my art work in The Gallery at Redlands which will remain open for business throughout the festival. Thanks to artists and volunteers, I will be able to move back and forth from gallery to festival throughout the weekend and enjoy the company of all the artists coming into town.

Gallery at Redlands. My work area is always untidy

The watercolor started above will feature the Sacred Heart Church across the street. As I’ve blogged several times before, I enjoy waking up in our apartment upstairs to the sound of the 7:00 church bells, tolling nine times. I’ll never stop chuckling at that. I’m posting one of my earlier paintings of the church below. We’ll be painting this composition in tomorrow’s watercolor class.

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.

Preparation for Palestine’s Art in the Alley

December 10, 2022

Still chipping away at my Clydesdales

We’re approaching the evening in Palestine, and Art in the Alley is about to begin. There will be more than 500 people coming through the city for Wine & Whiskey-Swirl. Deanna Pickett Frye, one of our Gallery artists, will be joining me in The Gallery at Redlands. I’m looking forward to sharing studio space with another artist. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to enjoy such camaraderie.

Deanna Frye’s work place

Deanna has arrived and we’re ready to go to work. Thanks for reading.

Working Late on a Rainy Night

November 11, 2022

I’m not sure this book is for people who want to create, but don’t. It seems to me in the end, as far as expressing yourself is concerned, you just have to plunge in, fears and all. There is something courageous about it. If a person is too timid even to start, I’m not sure what it would take to get that person started. I’m not a big believer in the books and courses that advocate creativity rituals, altar making and mask making to get unstuck and get started. Maybe that stuff works. I don’t know. they just seem like more strategies to avoid getting on with it. This, then, is a book for people who are in the thick of the creative struggle.

Ian Roberts, Cteative Authenticity

The hour is drawing late at The Gallery at Redlands. Outside, the temperatures continue dropping, and the rain continues falling. I like that. I know it will keep people home and that I’m guaranteed some long overdue quiet time and space to work. Tomorrow is already used up, and I won’t be making art then. Yesterday was used up, and I couldn’t make art then. Today was exactly what I needed and wanted. After a few hours without interruption, I took a break from working on the commission, brewed a cup of coffee and sat down to enjoy some communion with Ian Roberts and this engaging book. I don’t have enough conversations with other artists about the artist’s enterprise, and I regret that. But there is that line from the movie Shadowlands that I love: “We read to know we are not alone.” During my quiet moments, I love to read from Ian Roberts, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Eugene Delacroix, Robert Henri and other artists and visionaries from the past who cared enough to write out their observations about the artist’s task.

And lo and behold, into the gallery strolled Orlando Guillen, our youngest artist/sculptor who took out a full-page ad in our latest magazine The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery. He came to pick up his bundle of magazines, but with the cold, wet weather outdoors, he chose to stay for a cup of coffee and an hour-long conversation where we covered the entire artist’s territory–inspiration, depression, successes, failures, lessons learned, personal philosophies . . . we could have been French Impressionist painters in the Cafe Gerbois. So I’ve been double-blessed; an hour’s communion with another writer followed by an hour with a live artist in my gallery. Now I can return to work further on the commission

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.

Hot Pepper Festival in Palestine Today

October 22, 2022
Resuming a Recent Watercolor

I have found it difficult to stop and blog today. My day began at 7:00, and as I walked the streets of Palestine, I felt that I was making my way through a Medieval village. Vendors were everywhere, setting up booths for the day. The annual Hot Pepper Festival is in full swing. The parade has already passed through, and people are everywhere. I’m enjoying the Gallery traffic. Talking to patrons and visitors is always enjoyable, especially if I’m up to my elbows in a watercolor

While passing through the booths during my morning walk, I enjoyed the scattered chatterings I overheard, reminding me of my days of setting up for an outdoor art festival. A good memory. In fact, I experienced this three weeks ago in Edom, Texas. I used to do about ten of these a year. Now I’ve cut back to two or three. I’m glad to be settled into the gallery, and plan to work on watercolors till we close tonight at 9:00

A close up of the details I’m tending on the Palestine watercolor

While working on a large piece, I enjoy moving all over the composition, sometimes detailing, sometimes laying down large washes of color, sometimes drawing and adjusting something that doesn’t seem quite right. Currently I’m working on small perimeter leaves and branches separating the bulk of the tree crowns from the sky. I call these little touches “salt and peppering” as I feel I am seasoning the work instead of basting or cooking.

I need to get back to painting. Thanks for reading.

Carnegie Library and Billowing Thoughts

October 21, 2022
View out my Redlands Hotel window. Carnegie Library undergoing ADA compliance construction

I lived the whole week in strictest seclusion in my study and under the apple tree and now have the exegesis of Romans 5 finished.

Karl Barth, letter to friend Eduard Thurneysen, Septembper 27, 1917

Friday morning finds me on the second floor of The Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas. While reading and breakfasting, I’ve been looking out the window at the Carnegie Library as a work crew labors to make it ADA compliant so it can once again become a public library. Once it re-opens, I’ll be in trouble. I can already envision patrons approaching a locked Gallery at Redlands door with a sign:

Gallery Closed. If you need me, I’m across the street in the Carnegie Library, reading.

I’ve said this before. As an artist, I am still conflicted for reading and thinking time. I’m afraid graduate school shaped me for that till the day I die. I cannot think of an appropriate epithet for myself; “Thinking Artist” carries an arrogance I find offensive. “Intellectual” isn’t much better. Listening to a YouTube lecture this morning delivered by writer Thomas Wolfe in memory of Marshall McLuhan the remark was made: “An intellectual is an expert in one field who makes a comment in another.” Good one.

O.K. Cards on the table. My doctorate is in New Testament, and I still read it in Greek. But I also love reading the Greek texts of Homer and the Presocratics. And I love literature, And philosophy. And art history. I love to write. All of this feeds my art, even if these strands are not seen in my subject matter. Ideas are the prime mover of my life, and they drive my imagination, my art and my business. Downstairs in the gallery, two watercolors in progress are waiting for me, and I’ll get down to them. But now I’ve stopped my reading long enough to send up a blog like a smoke signal. I’ll get downstairs to the watercolors in due time.

The retired life is luxurious; I had no idea how miserable I was the final five years of my full-time employment when I was chained to a Monday-through-Friday teaching post that never went away. At the end of each weekday, I carried my school work home like a mule, and I carried the load into every weekend. The fact of the matter is this–when Friday ended school for the week, I was already thinking of Monday morning. For twenty-eight years in high school, and a concurrent schedule of college adjunct responsibilities running from 1985-2022 I was never away from work, mentally. Now as a happily and fully retired man, I know what it means to be busy, but the busy happens by my choice, not an institutional schedule. And I love it.

Thirty years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson grounded my life of the mind, and though I studied scores of other thinkers throughout those years, Emerson remained my pole star. I often wondered if anyone else would ever come along and make the same claim upon my mind.

For a week now, Marshall McLuhan has held my attention like no other since Emerson. I am now reading his Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, and I am totally absorbed. I purchased the 30th anniversary edition, and the Introduction by Harper’s editor Lewis H. Lapham is brilliantly written. If McLuhan continues to hold my attention, I’ll be writing more about him once I have digested it. But for now, I feel the sensations the theologian Karl Barth described in his letter to his friend about his absorption in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. I’m currently seeking an apple tree under which I can sit and contemplate all this new wonder.

Finally moved downstairs to The Gallery at Redlands

Meanwhile, there is work to pursue in the Gallery. A pair of watercolors are whispering in my other ear. Tomorrow (Saturday), Palestine will host its annual Hot Pepper Festival. The streets downtown will be lined with booths. A parade will open the event, and thousands of people will overrun the city. We hope they’ll overrun our Gallery as well.

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.

Musings in Studio Eidolons

October 18, 2022

Instead of celebrity philosophers we have celebrity chefs, dozens of them. But they never talk about how delicious life itself could be if we followed a different recipe. That’s what McLuhan was all about, really, recognizing that the kitchen of the mind is stocked with all the best ingredients. Each of us could be in there every day, cooking up a masterpiece. Why aren’t we?

William Powers, Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

There is magic in waking to a 43 degree morning. Without an alarm I was up before daylight, made coffee, and thought I was going straight to the drafting table to pursue work on my latest project. But I opened a book and journal, and alas, ideas began savaging me. Hours later, I sit down to this blog to record some of it, then get back to work . . .

One idea leads to the next, one book to the next, etc.

I have this obsession with re-reading quality books that have fed my imagination in times past. My recent dip back into Hamlet’s Blackberry found me doing the breast stroke through the chapter featuring Marshall McLuhan. I’ve never read his books, but have decided now to take a look into The Gutenberg Galaxay and Understanding Media. The man was truly prophetic, seeing well in advance the digital age and how it would transform society. Though I hadn’t read him, his name crept into my consciousness recently during scattered chats with friends at Edom Art Festival, Hideaway Lake Art League, and creative spirits from Palestine and Greenville, Texas.

Beginnings of mapping out New Byzantium

Purchasing recently a Rand McNally road map of Texas, I spread it out on the table and began marking the towns that have recently gotten my attention with their current activities in the arts–visual, musical, performing, and literary. There is a genuine Renaissance blossoming. I have been referring to it as The New Byzantium, and intend to write more about it as these matters unfold. I am thrilled at this new vibe that is in the air, just as invigorating as the recent plunge in temperature, signaling autumn and all the excitement that comes with the approaching holiday seasons.

I’m glad to have a couple of days in my suburban home before descending back into the Palestine mix. Their annual Hot Pepper Festival is coming up this weekend, and there will be thousands of people in the downtown area. It’s time once again to roll up the sleeves and get to work on the matters at hand.

Thanks for reading.

Singing Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road”

October 12, 2022

Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,

Strong and content I travel the open road.

Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road”

Looking out the window of Studio Eidolons this morning, my heart stirred as I saw the first signs of leaves dropping from the oak tree. The cool mornings have brought a soothing balm after this blistering summer we just endured. It seemed to make my Cowboy Coffee taste better and Whitman read better.

I have had 48 hours to rest, re-center, unpack and reload since the weekend Edom Art Festival. The memories and sensations of the event have not diminished over the days. My placement beneath a large tree next to the entrance not only gave me nonstop shade throughout the day, but also provided large crowds that never diminished.

The first “crowd” photo is one I took, but this better one was taken by friend and photographer Dave Shultz. He posted comments on facebook that talking art to a crowd of people left me thirsty (hence the “bottoms up” shot of me at the far left). Thanks for coming, Dave! And thanks for this funny memory. I’m overwhelmed with all the new friends I made during the weekend and look forward to blending future art events with these new acquaintances.

Near my tent, a Beat poet set up shop and began composing poetry on his portable typewriter while his faithful dog lay comfortably beside him. It has been years since I’ve attended a poetry reading and now have decided I’ll look for them on the calendar. Hearing his voice and feeling his passion fueled a new sense of artistic drive within me. As I’ve written before, East Texas is experiencing a spontaneous explosion in the arts–visual, musical, literary and performance. And I’m thrilled to be positioned in the eye of this hurricane.

I am en route to Hideaway Lake Art League near Lindale in east Texas for a watercolor demonstration. Then I am traveling south for some quality fly-fishing in some ponds on my dear friends’ property. Thursday will find me back in Palestine to occupy The Gallery at Redlands. I will stay until Sunday this time so I can attend a matinee of Palestine Community Theater’s production of “The Play that Goes Wrong.” It is getting rave reviews and I’m delighted that I can attend a daytime performance since I occupy the Gallery at night. This play is one more example of the amazing flourish we’ve witnessed recently in the arts across East Texas.

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.