Archive for the ‘art gallery’ Category

Sunday Night Life

July 31, 2022
Sequestered in Studio Eidolons with good Reading

I sat at the portable metal desk before my open notebook, straining to get something down. On the whole, I thought more than I wrote, wishing I could just transmit straightaway to the page.

Patti Smith, M Train

Sandi and I are reunited. She too now has COVID, so she decided to come back home rather than stay out of this infected house for another week or so. Of course, with today being Sunday, she found zero help from our family doctor’s offices. I hate that she has to wait till the morning to get even a virtual doctor’s visit. Completing my second day of Paxlovia, I feel better than I have since all this started, and I just wish for Sandi to receive this relief, sooner instead of later.

Sunday evening is growing quiet, and I’m finishing up my French-pressed coffee from Camp4Coffee in Crested Butte. The memories are abundant and soothing–it rained the entire evening we spent visiting that city a couple of weeks ago. When vacationing, I’m a sucker for purchasing products from a shop that offers great memories. So glad that I finally feel good enough to drink coffee again, I’ve been sipping this as it darkens outside my studio window, and re-living the Colorado odyssey. We relished strolling the sidewalks as the light raindrops fell, holding temperatures into the mid-50’s. Meanwhile, Arlington, Texas is bloody hot. I’m writing this at 8:23 p.m. and it is 99 degrees outside, and our AC cannot bring the inside temperatures down to a comfortable level.

Now that I feel good enough to scribble in my journal, I’m experiencing the Patti Smith syndrome quoted at the top of this post. When I’m on my game, I can scribble out half a dozen journal pages rather quickly. Thirty minutes into the attempt tonight has yielded a half-page, and its anemic (like me). No worries, though. I know it will come back. The New Testament records that the wind blows when it wills, and we cannot know its origin or timing. So also with journaling. It will come back.

I just received a query on Instagram about whether reproductions are available of the watercolor that sold last night at Baron’s Creek. The answer is Yes. I never had it set up for limited editions, but sold 8 x 10″ reproductions (quite a lot of them, actually). They look nice in a white mat and 11 x 14″ frame. I sell them matted for $25. I just sold one tonight. Unfortunately, with this COVID crap, I won’t be “out” for another week or so, but meanwhile I am processing more reproductions and matting them. I’m glad I have all the materials necessary right here in Studio Eidolons, and now have a job to do. I’ll post the photo again in case any of my readers are interested:

Six Subjects in Search of a Painter. 8 x 10″ reproduction, in white mat. $25

Thanks for reading.

Sweet Evening Solitude & Recovery

July 30, 2022
Working Lightly in Studio Eidolons Tonight

Current wisdom, especially that propagated by the various schools of psychoanalysis, assumes that man is a social being who needs the companionship and affection of other human beings from cradle to grave. It is widely believed that interpersonal relationships of an intimate kind are the chief, if not the only, source of human happiness. Yet the lives of creative individuals often seem to run counter to this assumption.

Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self

Storr’s book has been like a Bible in my collection for over thirty years now. This was the first book, read when I was in my thirties, that convinced me I was O.K. even though I didn’t have much of a social life. The ministry dripped with a sense of alienation. Graduate school meant long solitary days in a library carrell. Welding-well, how many people stand around to visit with you when you’re under the hood while the arc lights up the room? Public education for nearly three decades saw me scrambling for privacy at the end of each school day. So yes, I have regarded myself, despite having a family whom I love, as largely private.

I don’t recall the last time I was ill; it hadn’t occurred since 2017 when I retired from teaching. And I don’t recall the last time I missed school due to illness. I have lived a life for the most part without need for doctor’s visits or medication. I wasn’t prepared for what happened when I tested positive for COVID yesterday morning. The good news was that Sandi was already in Palestine to run the gallery in my stead, leaving me to attend tonight’s artists’ reception in Granbury. She has since tested negative, so she will be staying out of our house till I am past all this. To repeat–I wasn’t prepared for this enforced isolation. Yesterday and today were among the longest days in my life, here in my home and studio, alone with a pair of small dogs.

This afternoon, while the isolation had reached its bleakest moment, the phone calls started coming in. Three of my paintings sold, two of them major works.

Six Subjects in Search of a Painter. SOLD

The New Owners

I was elated to learn that a student of mine from fifteen years back purchased my large still life at Baron’s Creek Winery in Granbury. I was deeply saddened that I was unable to attend this event.

He Was Here Yesterday SOLD

And then . . . Sandi phoned from our Gallery at Redlands. She had just sold another large watercolor of mine to a local automobile restoration artist. She told me he was fascinated with my collection of gas station compositions and chose the large one from among the pack.

Evening Hole. SOLD

Sandi also sold this mid-size watercolor of me fly-fishing Troublesome Creek in Colorado.

Needless to say, news of the triple sales (and boy, Sandi sold quite a number of other artists’ works the past three days in the gallery!) created somewhat of a soothing balm for my tortured feelings the past pair of days. Though absent in body, I’m glad that my “spirit” somehow lingered in the events where my work was on display. The affirmation helps, believe me.

I believe I will sleep better tonight. I have completed the first day taking dosages of Paxlovid, and already am feeling some physical relief from this dreaded illness. And news of the art sales has certainly provided a strong measure of good will; I feel much less isolated now.

More tomorrow. 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.

Six Subjects in Search of a Painter

July 27, 2022
Six Subjects in Search of a Painter, 33 x 40″ framed, now at Baron’s Creek Tasting Room & Wine Lounge

I’m leaning forward with anticipation to the Artists’ Reception Saturday, 4-7:00, at Baron’s Creek Tasting Room & Wine Lounge in Granbury, Texas. Publisher Gloria Hood has organized an exhibition of larger works by artists featured in the latest issue of Eyes of Texas Fine Art Magazine. I have decided to hang the above work in the show, because I’ve always wanted to see it in a large venue (our Gallery at Redlands is smaller and more intimate).

Baron’s Creek Tasting Room & Wine Lounge, 115 E. Bridge St. (on the town square), Granbury, Texas

This will be my second exhibition in this location, and I’m always happy to enjoy a glass of wine and good conversation with artists and art lovers at this place, particularly on weekends.

I’m still working on a book of short stories I’ve written along with illustrations from my own watercolors. I’m attaching the story that goes with the painting above, because I spent a meaningful winter in my garage studio (man cave) working on this piece and composing the story:

Night descended and Hank was up late again, bedding down in the storeroom of Jerry’s Texaco.  He had closed the place at dark but was too engrossed in his college studies to pack up the books and head for his garage apartment in the next county.  So, with Jerry’s permission, he would spend another night in the back of the station amidst the smells of gasoline, oil, pit grease and the grime that had built up over two generations.  Interstate commerce had sharply diminished the vitality of this sleepy town, and as soon as Hank graduated from the community college, he would depart as well.  Local townspeople and patrons had no knowledge or regard for the things that stirred the soul of this young man.  His volumes of Thoreau, Frost, Whitman and Twain had opened to him worlds beyond this small, stale community. 

His few camping possessions stored in this room (Griswold frying pan, stove top percolator, kerosene lantern, Maxwell House tin) were the tether that kept him bound to the wild.  He would be packing up his gear soon and leaving without notice.  It was time to emerge from this cocoon and embrace the world calling out to him.

I hope you will be able to attend our opening Saturday. 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.

Expanded Horizons: the New Byzantium

July 26, 2022
Robert M. Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences, Tyler Junior College

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand;

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight . . .

William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming”

Rising at 5:30 this morning, Sandi and I made preparations for a life-changing Odyssey into East Texas. We had been invited to meet Neita Fran, a major mover and shaker of the Tyler, Texas area art scene, at Tyler Junior College where I’ve been invited to hang one of my watercolors as part of a six-month exhibition.

The beautiful “garden area” of the Nursing and Health Sciences building.
My watercolor “Trinidad Coffee Morning” waiting to be hung in the show

Touring the lovely facility of the Robert M. Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences facility (where the new exhibition is hanging), we learned of other exhibitions Neita has been organizing for the future. The University of Texas Tyler College of Pharmacy will be hosting a new show in the near future, and The University of Texas Tyler will be building a new School of Medicine to be opened in 2025. This new venue is also requesting art to display on its campus. We’re excited to join Neita’s group of artists already planning for these future events.

Tyler Museum of Art

Our next stop was the Tyler Museum of Art where we were introduced to the Executive Director of the past ten years, Christopher M. Leahy. Chris has shown remarkable energy in networking with artist groups across east Texas, providing accommodations inside the museum for Neita and her circle of artists to hold their planning meetings. As the director showed us about the facility, we learned of his connection with the City of Palestine, most notably with the legacy of Palestine’s celebrated artist, the late Ancel Nunn. I nearly fainted when Chris mentioned his visit long ago to Ancel Nunn’s studio where he viewed the large advertisement on his interior wall.

Apparently noticing my expression of recognition, he asked incredulously, “So, you’ve seen it yourself?” My answer had to be “No.”

The roof has long since been destroyed, and in the years following, the mural has disappeared from the wall. Chris was heartbroken on having learned this, and, taking me to his library, showed me from one of his volumes the mural advertisement as it had looked in better days. Our ensuing discussion of ghost signs and billboards made me think of the theme I’ve been pursuing for quite some time now: ideas and dreams buried in history only later to be re-born. “Nostalgia” is from a Greek word signifying the pain of remembering.

So now I finally come to the point of this blog post: I’ve been working on this idea of East Texas as a New Byzantium, following the inspiring work of the Irish poet William Butler Yeats. He believed that 5th/6th-century Byzantium was one of the most remarkable eras in history as art, religion and civic life combined as a single force that drove a creative society. In the poem cited above, “The Second Coming”, Yeats addressed the “Spiritus Mundi” (the Great Memory):

Before the mind’s eye, whether in sleep or waking, came images that one was to discover presently in some book one had never read, and after looking in vain for explanation to the current theory of forgotten personal memory, I came to believe in a great memory passing on from generation to generation . . . Our daily thought was certainly but the line of foam at the shallow edge of a vast voluminous sea.”

For over a year now, I have been working on this vision of East Texas as a “New Byzantium” as small communities from town to town are experiencing a renewed interest in art, music, literature and the performing arts. Now, they seem to be finding ways to “network” thanks largely to social media, and our ability also to travel from community to community to form new friendships and alliances. Sandi and I have in the past year experienced the joy of gallery ownership, participation in a new magazine publishing venture, new exhibitions opening in wineries and university facilities, and even more exciting news on the horizon.

So why am I now intrigued by this notion of “Spiritus Mundi”? Simply because I realize that we are an extension of a great, creative tradition that spans millennia–revivals (renaissance) of creative expression that return to us often in fragmented ghost signs. We have read of the Golden Age of Athens, of Byzantium, of Renaissance, of The New York School. What all of these movements have in common is the sense of incompleteness–there was always something left on the field, something that never managed to come to fruition, a dropped vision, a neglected dream. All of these movements had more ideas than they could bring to light. And now here we are, ready to pick up new visions, new ideas, and perhaps also recover some of the inspirations dropped in the past. We are ready for a fresh exploration of creativity, and invite others to join us in catching this fever.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Continued Thoughts on the New Byzantium

July 21, 2022
Newly-Opened Winery: Stone Trough in Cleburne, Texas

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 to 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

New York itself was incredible, “really like a Byzantine city,” according to de Kooning, who was thinking of a city of contrasts and contradictions, a city where people from all over the world came together. The thought was seconded by Robert Motherwell, a young painter who had begun to exhibit in the 1940s and who explained to the poet Frank O’Hara that “New York City is a Constantinople, a great Bazaar.”

Jed Perl, New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century

Artists Beginning to Gather at Stone Trough

As I have written before, there is something creative in the air over East Texas. Artists, musicians, playwrights and poets are finding ways to network, to pour fresh ideas like cascades of spring water over the stagnant, tired diatribes often found on social media. My retired professor friends from Denton, Bob Stevens and Jim Linebarger, have been offering me encouragement as I seek to translate the recent East Texas art flourishing as having parallels with the culture of ancient Byzantium.

Last night Sandi and I traveled to Cleburne to attend the opening of a new winery where The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery is opening a new show of work. I have a pair of watercolors in the show, and a number of our Gallery at Redlands artists are displaying there as well. Next week we will open our next show at Baron’s Creek Winery in Granbury, Texas. And Palestine will hold its next Art Walk the first Saturday of August. We are hearing murmurs of new art events and organizations forming in nearby Tyler as well. I promise to report on all of these things as they come to fruition in the weeks ahead. As I wrote earlier, there is something creative in the air, and we’re enthused to hear about these things.

Justin Bryant and editor Gloria Hood planning and strategizing . . .

The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery magazine welcomes photographer/journalist Justin Bryant from the Palestine Herald Press. He was recently assigned to the art beat of our local newspaper, and immediately went far beyond publishing the events of our monthly art walk, news from the Dogwood Arts Council and general information from The Gallery at Redlands. With fresh vision, he is pouring new ideas into the next issue of our fine arts magazine, having caught the fever of the art interest recently flowing through East Texas. As I stood nearby and listened to the the enthusiasm coming from him as well as Gloria, Sandi, and the artists at the table nearby, I felt confirmed in my sentiments that a New Byzantium is underway and that we can expect remarkable things as we inch closer to the fall season.

Finally framed the aspens in an 11 x 14″ frame. $200
Another Colorado watercolor. 11 x 14″ frame. $150

We’re happy to be back in The Gallery at Redlands, and are enjoying the reunion with our Palestine friends we haven’t seen in over two weeks. I managed to frame two of the watercolors I experimented with while on the cabin deck in South Fork, Colorado. I have many more planned, so stay tuned . . .

S O L D !!!!!

We also returned from Colorado to the great news that my watercolor recently featured on the cover of our magazine had found a new home. I’m thrilled that the buyers live in Fort Worth and have just visited the Scat Jazz Lounge. Sandi and I have plans to visit the lounge some night soon with our editor along with Sabrina Franklin (also featured on the cover of the magazine) and whomever else wishes to join us for an evening of live jazz and good times.

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.

Sacred Space (or “Executive Time”?)

July 1, 2022
In The Gallery at Redlands

A man should keep for himself a little back shop, all his own, quite unadulterated, in which he establishes his true freedom and chief place of seclusion and solitude.

Michel de Montaigne

I am laughing at my gallery desk this morning as I write this. Having just spent a week at the old country store I was afforded the time and space for quiet reflection and writing, a habit ingrained in me since the mid 1980s. Recently, much has been published about “executive time,” a practice of some famous CEOs who find ways to carve out space during the work day to be alone, allowing them to engage in creative efforts important to them, and to reflect over life and what they genuinely want to make of it.

Over the years, I have watched and re-watched “Mad Men” on TV, starring Jon Hamm. Recently, I got a kick out of the episode involving Ida Blankenship (played by Randee Heller), an aging executive secretary who had been with the advertising firm for decades. She passed away at her desk, and one of the senior partners, Bert Cooper (played by Robert Morse) was tied in knots, trying to write an obituary for this loved one who had been so close to the team for so many years. In a moment of frustration, unable to organize his thoughts, he complained loudly:

“And I have no office in which to ruminate!”

I still laugh when I recall those words. How many times have I shouted these words in my mind when caught in a situation where I needed time, quiet and space–and none of it was available to me. My friends laugh with me over this notion of “executive time.” I recall from my college days, when affiliated with the Baptist Student Union, we called it “Quiet Time”, dedicating a portion of our daily schedule to Bible study and meditation and prayer. Sometime in the midst of my graduate education, I began keeping a journal–not a diary of personal, emotional stories, but more of a daily digest of what I was reading and thinking. That journal now occupies about 200 volumes in my personal library, and I love dipping back into many of those tomes and read hastily scribbled thoughts I don’t recall thinking!

My daily habits remain largely unchanged–I collage the opening of each new day, like a new chapter, then take off, scribbling out ideas either popping up spontaneously in my imagination or spawned by something I’m reading at the moment. Today I’ve been writing about “sacred spaces”, recalling all those years I stopped in special places to think, to reflect, to write, to plan. I recall with warmth the 100-year-old house where I lived in rural Whitesboro, Texas where I wrote out most of my doctoral dissertation by the light of kerosene lamps at night (those journal pages resonate with me much more than my dissertation ever has). I still recall the sanctity of my doctoral carrell in the seminary library, of the study carrels on the third floor of the Texas Wesleyan University library during twenty-two years of my adjunct work there. My current Studio Eidolons in my own home in Arlington, Texas, of park benches, coffee shops, hotel lobbies. Next week I’ll savor the sanctity of the porch deck of Brookie Cabin in South Fork, Colorado, where I have filled many watercolor journals and writing journals with my thoughts while gazing out at the mountain stream whispering down below.

Sometimes while engaged in “executive time” I appreciate the quiet or the white noise of my surroundings; other times I pull up YouTube on my laptop and play something similar to the New York City ambience (pictured at the top of this blog), and listen to the sounds of traffic far below. I also appreciate the many, many YouTube videos of cafes either with jazz music playing or the white noise of espresso machines and customers in conversations. These kinds of sounds aid my concentration during such times.

Perhaps executive time isn’t for everyone. But it has been my life’s blood for four decades now, and I see no reason to reject this gift.

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.

Leaning Forward to the Next Adventure

June 30, 2022

Signed, Sealed & Delivered
Downtown Crockett, Texas. Goliad & 5th.

There was heat in us, a core and a drive that was gathering headway upon the theme of a rediscovery of a primary impetus, the elementary principle of all art, in the local conditions.

The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams

Return to the Gallery

The evening finds me back inside The Gallery at Redlands, thinking fondly over the events of this past week. My friends Wade and Gail Thomas, who opened this gallery in 2017, invited me to paint a life-size Davy Crockett image to welcome tourists to the town of Crockett, thirty minutes from here. Designing the figure and scaling him from a sheet of paper to a life-size format proved quite the challenge, but the good news was that the sun would not find me till noontime. Tuesday-through-Thursday proved sufficient time in the mornings to get this one done. My friends are still musing over possibilities for a background; thoughts now include a foggy bank of east Texas pine trees along an old road fading into the distance. Perhaps an old sign announcing the number of miles to San Antonio. Legend has it that Davy Crockett, en route to the Alamo, stayed the night in a pine forest here in Crockett.

As I painted this week, my mind frequently drifted toward the darkness of our frontier hero’s final week in the Alamo. In those horrible closing nights, he could not have possibly envisioned a city one day taking his name, citizens requesting an iconic image of him welcoming visitors. People wishing to stand before him and be photographed with him. I’m deeply thankful for being invited to be a part of this.

Heidegger’s Hut

Among the rich rewards of making art in Crockett was the accommodations. Since 2016, I have relished my stays at an old store in east Texas. The dirt road, the absence of cell phone service, the abundance of deer–a perfect environment where one could sit for hours and just watch the thoughts drift by. I call this place Heidegger’s Hut because of Martin Heidegger’s cabin in the Black Forest where he would retreat to escape the frenzy of city university life in Freiburg. He wrote all of his great published works from that cabin, drinking deeply from the solitude. I have found such a respite at this old country store, where I have done some of my best work, writing and painting, in this tranquil environment.

The idyllic country store
A visiting dog is always a comfortable companion
. . . and the occasional curious fawn

I’ve managed to read over 200 pages of WCW’s Autobiography. The text posted above resonated with me deeply. I have known time and again that “heat” and that “core” that has driven me to discover new paths of expression. The more I read the recorded memories of William Carlos Williams, the more I am stirred by his passion and invited to jump back into that refreshing stream to see where I can be carried next. As I expressed in the title, I lean forward with enthusiasm to what lies just around the next bend.

This Saturday is Palestine’s monthly Art Walk. This time I will be making art inside the Gallery at Redlands rather than in one of our downtown businesses. I prefer this actually, though I’ve always wanted to be a presence anywhere the organization found the city short-handed. My thanks continues to go out to all the local businesses that requested my being on the premises to demonstrate. This time, I’m glad to be “home” during this important event.

Thanks for reading. If you’re in the vicinity, stop by and say “Hello” on Saturday. We’ll have the gallery open from 9 till 9.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Finding Ground after the Travels

June 10, 2022
Awash in Patti Smith and Martin Heidegger ideas

Like Sartre, Heidegger is prepared to see the human situation in terms of ontological homelessness, meaning that on this earth we have no abiding home since we are not embedded in the world as a part of nature.

George Pattison, The Later Heidegger

Finally rested from my ten-day St. Louis odyssey, I’m feeling genuine serenity, seated once again in Studio Eidolons, looking out my windows across Mister Rogers’s Neighborhood while reading, journal scribbling and collaging. While in St. Louis, I purchased a pair of Patti Smith books. I finished her Just Kids during my return drive home, stopping at rest areas and truck stops along the way. I am currently about halfway through her M Train, drawing just as much inspiration and sustenance from it as from the first volume. I’ve also enjoyed reading The Later Heidegger as I find the author writing with great lucidity about this philosopher’s “turn” following his Being and Time magnum opus. After repeated attempts over the decades, I’ve drawn very little from Being in Time, but the writings of the later Heidegger I cannot lay aside. Whether he translates the Presocratics, writes poetry, addresses language, lectures on Nietzsche or discusses the nature of creating art, I find Heidegger most engaging.

Morning Journal Musings

Reading from Homer’s Odyssey during my St. Louis travels has also been profoundly enlightening. I often mused over the Greek texts rhapsodizing about Odysseus sailing over the “broad back” of the open seas, and found myself driving over the broad back of our U. S. highways, gleaning parallels with the wanderer as he sought his way back to Ithaca. With my sentiments passing to and fro from my current home in Arlington, my second home in Palestine and my childhood home west of St. Louis, I have been writing extensively in my journals about where home actually is for me. I’ve not yet been able to draw a satisfactory conclusion; that is why the quote opening this blog arrested my attention over morning coffee today.

During my decade of pastoral ministry, I grew familiar with the New Testament texts addressing the Christian as not having a real home in this “present age.” I’ve also studied the Jewish Bible, gleaning their longings for their homeland. Yet in my preaching I never could really address these themes, because I didn’t really identify with them. It’s only been in recent years, while attempting my own memoirs and writing this book I started twenty years ago that I have come to understand the restless feeling of not having a home, but driven to perpetual wandering.

Journal Collage

I feel blessed finally to reach this stage in my personal life where I actually have a home, a family, and can wander safely, knowing I always have a place to land. I haven’t been in Palestine for several weeks and am glad to have this extended weekend to spend in The Redlands Hotel and The Gallery at Redlands. This morning is quiet and I’m getting plenty of things done that needed tended. And I still have time to read and reflect. My plan is to make art during the evening hours, keeping the gallery open till 9:00.

Thanks for reading. It’s wonderful to be back . . .

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Saturday Morning Musings in the Gallery

May 21, 2022

Good morning from The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas. By the time you read this, we will most likely have already departed this place. The reception for The 2022 Summer Exhibit for The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery will be held from 4-7:00 today at Barons Creek Vineyards, 115 Bridge Street, Granbury, Texas. Many of our artists featured in Volume 7 of this magazine will be in the show and Sandi and I are looking forward to a reunion with them. Some of the Palestine artists are already in Granbury for the event; others will be caravanning there soon. I’m happy to have my cover feature hanging in the show as well as the ghost sign painting I created last year from Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Jazz on a Saturday Night. Framed watercolor featured in the show (also on the magazine cover)
Palimpsest. Framed watercolor featured in the show

Early this morning while quietly reading from Harvey Cox’s When Jesus Came to Harvard, I found my mind fixed on this notion “gap periods” in the lives of people who have made history. Much has been wondered over what happened to Jesus of Nazareth between the ages of twelve and thirty of John the Baptist from his infancy till he emerged in the trans-Jordanian wilderness, of Saint Paul during the three years immediately following his conversion. In my general studies I have been interested in what happened to Ralph Waldo Emerson when he quit the ministry and traveled to Europe for two years, what exactly occurred in the life of Henry David Thoreau during his two-plus years dwelling at Walden Pond, and what happened to Robert Johnson when he left the juke joint in derision and returned much later as the most accomplished Blues guitarist in the south.

The gap years. I believe most of us have them in our personal histories. I believe many of them mark defining moments in our life development. I know that my own odyssey is peppered with gap periods and I still treasure many of them. As I write, I’m anticipating my next gap as I pack and load for my trip back home to St. Louis. I still haven’t decided how long I’ll stay away. But I’m looking forward to the change in routine, and anticipate good things resulting. I’ll be dropping words like bread crumbs along the way; I don’t intend to disappear. Thanks always for reading me.

Dawn Over Palestine

May 20, 2022
Looking out the kitchen window from our second-floor The Redlands Hotel suite.

Gazing through the fire escape at the graying of the Dawn across sleeping Palestine, Odysseus leans forward in anticipation of setting sail for Ithaca over the broad back of the U.S. highway.

entry from this morning’s journal over coffee

Friday morning finds us in a more restful state after several days of frenetic deadlines and appointments. My grades have been turned in to the registrar; I am officially out of the classroom, for good this time. I informed the dean in February that I was finished after this term. The reality of my new chapter is still not fully realized, but it will happen.

My dear friend Bob Stevens gave me a book to read after our second visit and discussion earlier this week. Both of us seminary graduates, we still have an interest in many of the issues that bubbled up in our earlier days and still hold our attention. The Harvey Cox book is proving a most engaging read, and several of its passages read recently, accompanied by things brought up by Bob in conversation, have spurred me back to writing my book (I really, really wish to finish and self-publish it in 2022).

If you haven’t read earlier chapters from my draft, the book, titled Turvey’s Corner 63050, is about two fellows coming of age by leaving their Midwestern town in their earlier twenties to explore the world and find themselves. I’ve written twenty-three stories to date, and this morning decided to draft my twenty-fourth. This one is still sketchy but it was inspired by the Harvey Cox book . . .

The Weary Blues

Preacher at the Peppermill

Randy was numb with fatigue. Saturday night at The Peppermill Lounge proved to be a grinder. Setting up at 7:00. Soundcheck. 9:00 start. Now it was the second set break, nearing midnight. The bar was nearly empty, only eight patrons still hanging on, all of them with their backs to the stage, no one apparently listening any longer.

Randy sat at his table with stale coffee steaming in the ivory mug. Before him the typed manuscript he had completed at 5:00 this afternoon. With a dull pencil, he continued to scratch out words and phrases and scrawl between the double-space lines fragments of thoughts. Beginnings of thoughts, ends of thoughts. Anything that would say it better, quicker and cleaner.

Jack, the lead guitarist, pulled up a stool alongside. “Whatcha workin’ on?”

“Sermon for the morning.”

“You’re still a preacher?”

“Not really. I still speak twice a month from a Unitarian pulpit. I’m just going over my talk for the morning.”

Jack solemnly extended his hand for a warm, firm handshake.

“What was that?”

“This is where you’re supposed to be.”

“What do you mean?”

Jack looked long and quietly across the space of empty tables. After a long drag from his hand-rolled cigarette crammed with Bugle Boy tobacco, he exhaled wearily. Then his steely eyes sharpened into focus as he turned and looked intently into Randy’s face.

“You’ll never find a preacher in these places. And this is where all the real people are with real problems who need real help. They won’t go to church. And the church will certainly not come to them. But you’re here, because you’re a real preacher. And you’ll talk about real things. And give real help.”

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It’s only a beginning, but it feels good to be writing again.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.