Archive for the ‘church’ Category

Two New Watercolors for The Gallery

July 24, 2021
Sacred Heart Night, 11 x 14″ framed watercolor. $150
Shelton Hall, 11 x 14 framed watercolor. $425

Our human tendency is to concentrate the world upon a stage. We construct proscenium arches and frames in order to contain the thing that is larger than our comprehension, the plane of boundless possibility, that which reaches almost beyond wonder.

N. Scott Momaday, The Man Made of Words

The weekend in The Gallery at Redlands proved satisfying, again. I’ll be here a couple of more hours tonight before heading back home to Arlington. I managed to complete and frame a pair of watercolors as I stayed here Thursday through Saturday. They are now on display in the gallery, and I’m closing out my stay by reading the wonderful words of Momaday, truly a man made of words. I love his statement above, about how we carve out stages and display niches to present the images that arrest our attention. Palestine is a town filled with “paintable” structures, each containing its own rich history.

Thanks for reading.


Attempted Rescue of a Discarded Painting

July 23, 2021
In Progress–8 x 10″ watercolor destined for an 11 x 14″ frame (if it works out!)

The heat outside is oppressive and I suppose people are staying cool inside their homes. The hotel and gallery have been pretty quiet all day, but it has provided me thoughtful space to sift through some unfinished art to decide if any of it deserves finishing. Case in point: the watercolor posted above. A few weeks ago, I finished a framed 20 x 24″ watercolor of Sacred Heart, a magnificent Catholic Church which peeks inside my upper gallery windows from across Queen Street. At this moment I can look up from my computer and see it bathed in the afternoon sun.

Snowy Sacred Heart Night, 24h x 20w” framed. $800

Several weeks ago, I taught a watercolor class, using Sacred Heart as a subject. My demo started out OK, but as the lesson wore on, and I began focusing more on the students’ work than my own demo. I got in a hurry and rendered some crude lines on the building. At that point I stopped and spent the rest of the class helping the students. Today, looking at the demo that went south, I’ve decided to see if it looked good enough inside a mat and frame. The picture at the top shows the assembly stacked together, and I think it looks OK, at least good enough to try and finish the painting out with some quality. We’ll see if I can pull it off.

Since this blog began over an hour ago, I’ve had a number of visitors in the gallery. Maybe I won’t get the painting finished and framed tonight after all. We’ll see. If not, then Saturday might provide me with enough time to see it through.

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.

Friday Evening in The Gallery at Redlands

June 25, 2021
Beginning a new 8 x 10″ watercolor of Shelton Hall in old town Palestine
Completed the Watercolor of Sacred Heart Church

I’ve been trying in vain to launch a new blog all night, but the Friday night traffic from the Queen Street Grille and bar has been continuous. Nevertheless, I wanted my readers to see what’s been happening today/tonight. The church is finished, framed and in the gallery window. And I’ve barely begun this 8 x 10″ watercolor of Shelton Hall, a popular night spot in old town Palestine.

My intention is to paint as much as I can throughout tomorrow. Sometimes Saturdays are busy here, but not always. We’ll see what happens.

Thanks for reading.

Morning Salute from The Gallery at Redlands

June 25, 2021
Another Day with Opportunities for Creative Eros

What underlies our metaphysical questioning and hence metaphysics itself is not a foundation but an abyss. It is not solid ground, it is nothingness.

. . .

In this sense the ideological and philosophical structures that human beings construct for themselves to cling to as a guide . . . to equip themselves for this world, and make it as bearable as possible–distract from the essence of existence.

Wolfram Eilenberger, Time of the Magicians: Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the Decade that Reinvented Philosophy

Sunlight floods The Gallery at Redlands this morning and the horn of Charlie Parker punctuates this artistic space as I read while listening to The Savoy Recordings. The book cited above has provided excellent company for weeks now as I read this intriguing biography of four great thinkers who steered their intellectual careers through the turbulent waters of 1920’s Europe.

Years ago I was rocked when my worldview changed from the illusion of my standing on a solid stationary ground to the reality of being perched on a spinning orb wobbling through space. I likewise experienced the existential shock when my philosophical view of life changed much like that described in the text above. In my early years, I knew everything and the future was secure. And then one day I faced my own mortality and transience.

Such thoughts paralyze some with anxiety. But once they are faced, a dizzying freedom has the potential to show itself. Not wanting to oversimplify, I just want to express my gratitude for waking this morning to a new day, offering new opportunities, new adventures, hopefully some quality art. I love my Studio Eidolons at home, but am grateful for quality light and this gift of a drafting table in The Gallery at Redlands. Wherever I am from day to day, I have this gifted space to pursue creative dreams. Personally, I cannot envision a better morning than one that includes coffee, journaling time, quality reading and then walking over to the drafting table to lean over my latest attempt at art.

I wish all of you the best of days, and invite you to check out new images I’ve posted on my website If you are in the Palestine area, I’ll be in the gallery all day today and Saturday till closing at 9 p.m.

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.

New Additions to the Gallery at Redlands

June 24, 2021
We have added a new plaque to our gallery display
Lovely Plaque displaying recent article from County Line Magazine

Greetings from Palestine, Texas at The Gallery at Redlands! As is the custom, I arrived here around noon Thursday and will remain till 9 p.m. closing time Saturday night. We just proudly hung the plaque that arrived a few days ago, containing the entire article from County Line Magazine published April 28 to celebrate the gallery re-opening under our ownership and featuring The Twelve. I also spent the bulk of this Thursday afternoon hanging new work and rearranging the display of earlier pieces.

Cecilia Bramhall has brought out a large collection of new work!

If you have not been by the gallery recently, you will want to check out Cecilia Bramhall’s new body of work. Some of this was on display last weekend for our city’s first “Art Walk”, but I myself did not see it as it was displayed on the other end of town in one of our area businesses. Now we proudly make a provisional home for it as patrons begin the adoption process.

Grace Hessman pastel

We have also just received word that Grace Hessman, one of our pastelists, has new work coming into the gallery soon. It is currently being framed for presentation.

Grace Hessman work
Nearing the finish of this watercolor of Sacred Heart across the street from the gallery

I am hoping to finish this “Sacred Heart” watercolor by the end of the weekend. Recently I’ve had more time to work on it while in the gallery during the quieter hours.

If you are in the vicinity of Palestine, Texas, I’ll be here at 400 N. Queen Street, Suite 109. The Gallery at Redlands has brought in a considerable amount of new work waiting for buyers to come in and claim it. On behalf of The Twelve, let me thank you for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Randy Seeks Out the Reverend

May 17, 2020
Our Savior Lutheran Church

Life moves on its course in its vast uncertainty and we move with it, even though we do not see the great question-mark that is set against us. Men are lost, even though they know nothing of salvation. Then the barrier remains a barrier and does not become a place of exit. The prisoner remains a prisoner and does not become the watchman.

Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans

It was Sunday morning when Randy got off the Greyhound bus in downtown Dallas. He did this for a reason: Hank had written him a two-page letter nearly a year ago, a week after sending the postcard. He was thrilled over the conversation he had had with a Lutheran minister, so thrilled that he wrote the man as soon as he landed in Lubbock, thanking him for what he had said, and telling him he had a friend he hoped would one day get to meet him, a fellow Lutheran minister.

Though Randy had dropped out of the seminary and abandoned the “call” to ministry, he retrieved the letter that he’d saved and recalled that that minister had also attended Concordia Lutheran Seminary. Feeling somewhat lonely as a stranger in a strange land, Randy decided he would get off the bus while in Dallas and look up the minister.

Hank’s letter said the Reverend was at Our Savior Lutheran Church on the corner of West Clarendon & Gilpin. Thankfully, the city bus station was next door to Greyhound, so Randy strolled over to look up the route that would take him to this section of Dallas, a suburb called Oak Cliff.

As the city bus droned along the residential streets, Randy re-read his year-old letter from Hank.

The minister’s name is Elton Bauerkemper and he prefers to be called Elton. I really hope you get to meet him one day. He introduced to me this idea of living “a life of the Mind.” I had never heard that expression before. And what impressed me about him was his broad scope of reading, talking to me about Emerson, Thoreau, Wordsworth, Kerouac and Ginsberg. But I’ll be he’ll talk theology with you, since both of you attended the same Lutheran seminary. Who knows–maybe you had some of the same professors.

The bus came to a stop at the intersection of West Clarendon and Gilpin. It was 12:10. Church was dismissed and he could see a man in a black clerical robe standing on the front steps of the church shaking hands and talking to parishioners as they exited the building.


Thank you for reading, and I hope you are enjoying this story as it unfolds. If you haven’t read the background for this Dallas Lutheran encounter, the titles of previous blogs are “Church and Introspction in Dallas” (April 8) and “In the Minister’s Study” (April 9).

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

In the Minister’s Study (continued)

April 9, 2020

Hank was intrigued. Conversion? Where exactly was this conversation with the Reverend going?

The minister continued: “Jesus said, ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that all my life. But I never got what it means about becoming as little children. And no one ever explained it, I guess assuming we all knew what that meant. But I never did.”

“I’m not sure your preacher or Sunday School teachers knew or even thought about it either. I’m suspicious that folks are more comfortable memorizing and quoting scripture than studying its message. I never really gave this scripture much critical thought myself until my Professor of Theology told us one day: ‘You future clergymen are so obsessed with converting souls when you should be converting minds.’”

“O.K., there you go again. I’m not following you when you talk of conversion, implying that I’m experiencing such a thing right now.”

“You said you’ve read Thoreau. You should consider also reading Emerson, who was Thoreau’s mentor, along with Wordsworth, a major influence on Emerson. All three of these divines argued for the primacy of the child’s innocence and sense of wonder. It seems that adulthood as well as formal education succeed in driving the innocence and imagination clean out of a child as he matures. That is unfortunate, the loss of wonder, of curiosity, the brimming of the imagination. Wordsworth wrote that the child is father to the man. I believe that. And I concur with Einstein when he argued that imagination is more important than knowledge.”

“Well, you’ve given me quite a load to think about, and I appreciate it. Pardon me for saying it, but you don’t strike me as the typical man of the cloth.”

“That’s probably because of the climate of my generation. In the fifties and sixties, we were generally suspicious of authority and enforced conformity. It seems to me that your generation is more comfortable with rule-following. Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs—I think I learned more genuine theology from them than I did from Concordia Seminary.”

“You went to Concordia? I’m from St. Louis!”

“I was aware of that, but not sure that you—a Baptist—knew of my seminary and its theological persuasion. My Germanic heritage has made Lutheranism an easy fit for me generally, though I’ve been more sympathetic to the critical historical methodology the Germans have been infamous for applying since the eighteenth century. I sense that the general trend many refer to as ‘modernism’ is going to split the seminary pretty soon. I’m only glad I’m no longer there to take sides.”

“As a Baptist, I never heard mention of what you call modernism.”

“That’s not my label. Those who are suspicious of it, wishing to cling to traditional, conventional church standards use that word. If you haven’t gotten into it, you probably will if you stay inside the church life. I will go on record to say that, though I still consider myself a legitimate Lutheran in faith and practice, I owe a great debt to the outspoken minds of the fifties and sixties. My position is this—if you don’t understand the issues of existentialism, then you don’t really understand the twentieth century. But I guess that’s for another time, if you and I continue these chats.”

“Well, I do plan to leave in the next day or so. But I really believe I’ll be back, after I’ve had some time to digest what we’ve talked about today.”

“I hope you do come back. And if you do, please visit our church. I think you’d get a kick out of our organist, Linda Sterner. She’s probably got hurt feelings because I came down hard on her last Sunday for playing out of a Baptist Hymnal. I just feel that their chosen hymns lack the foundational depth than the ones Luther composed. But Linda is a free thinker and reminds me much of myself when I was clawing my way through the sixties. I did notice her carrying a volume of Ginsberg poems with her Bible a couple of weeks ago.”

“Well, thank you again, Elton. I believe I best be on my way.”

“It’s been my pleasure. Let me say one more thing, if I may: You say you are going on the road because you have not yet had a life. You complain that you haven’t traveled more than forty miles from home. I’d like to point out to you that the philosopher Immanuel Kant never traveled more than forty miles from his hometown either, yet his powerful ideas shifted the course of Western thought. Though not a traveler, he was fond of geography and read books on travel. Lecturing as Professor of Philosophy, he held his students spellbound, blending natural history, literature, physics and astronomy into his philosophical discourses. He truly lived a life of the mind. And I’m convinced that you are ready to convert now to that kind of a life. No doubt your travels will enrich you, filling you with new stories and insights, but Emerson reminded us that ‘though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.’ Whatever you do, just don’t stop reading, don’t narrow your interests, and please never stop questioning. Your greatest resource in your life’s odyssey is the imagination and curiosity you carry in your own mind. Never sell that short. And I wish you good fortune.”

I hope you enjoy this latest installment of the Hank cycle. My watercolor supplies were delivered today, and I’m excited about beginning the next painting and promise to keep you updated.

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website at

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Church and Introspection in Dallas

April 8, 2020
Our Savior Lutheran Church, est. 1947

Uncle Leo invited Hank to attend church with him every Sunday he was there for his three-week stay. On the final Sunday, Hank decided it would be polite to comply. Since Aunt Hattie died three years ago, Leo continued attending church alone, and Hank finally decided that refusing his invitations was insensitive.

Having been soaked in the Southern Baptist ethos of Turvey’s Corner, Hank remembered with the least affection the compulsory ecclesiastical attendance and participation enforced by his parents. Three weeks ago, lying under the stars on the Oklahoma plains, Hank suddenly realized it was Sunday, and felt more stirred in that moment than he had ever known in fifteen years of church attendance, including revival services.

Our Savior Lutheran Church sat on the corner of West Clarendon & Gilpin, a comfortable walk from Uncle Leo’s house. Hank was not accustomed to the liturgical nature of Lutheran worship, having known a comparatively folksy environment in the church of his own upbringing. But he did take notice of the organist Linda, thinking for a moment that perhaps he shouldn’t be so quick to leave town. He had anticipated going on the road in the morning.

Reverend Elton Bauerkemper was an overweight, bespectacled minister who fired a rather sustained fusillade of verbal fire and brimstone across the seated congregation, something they seemed to enjoy. Hank himself had had more than his share of that in his own past. But there was something else about this minister’s demeanor that attracted Hank, and he wasn’t sure exactly what it was. Perhaps it was a glimmer of intellectual authenticity within his words, or maybe it was something in his eye, something that telegraphed a man sensitive to the needs of individuals. Whatever it was, Hank decided before the sermon concluded that he desired an audience with the Reverend.

Hank didn’t leave in the morning. Instead, Tuesday afternoon found him seated in the minister’s study, surrounded by an imposing library of volumes comprised of theology, biblical studies, philosophy, literature, art history and natural science. Hank was also impressed that the study featured a pair of wingback chairs, and Reverend Bauerkemper (please, call me Elton) settled into one of the chairs instead of sitting behind his desk like a judge or attorney.

“So, Hank, what’s your story?”

“I don’t really have one, that’s why I’m on the road.”

“Leonard told me you were ‘passing through.’ You worked awhile, stuck some money in your pocket, and now you’re ready to roll again?”

“That’s right.”

“So, you don’t have a story, is that your point? Are you out looking for the ‘Meaning of Life?’”

“Well, I’m twenty-five and never traveled more than forty miles from my hometown. I never amounted to anything in school and only got into junior college because I showed promise as an artist. A few weeks back, an old man I always referred to as The Philosopher died. He was ninety. Old Bob remains the most remarkable man I’ve ever known because he was full of stories, having traveled broadly before returning to his hometown to live out his final twenty years. You could write a book from the stories he shared, and now that he’s gone, there doesn’t seem to be anybody else for me to look up to, and frankly, I’m afraid of living out a boring life in Turvey’s Corner and dying with nothing to remember or repeat.”

“Hank, I’m going to be straight with you. I talk to members of my congregation in confidence three-to-five times a week. They all have the same concerns—marital issues, adolescent rebellion, financial indiscretions—nobody seems to express any kind of awareness of a life of the mind.”

“Life of the mind? Explain.”

“Have you ever read Thoreau or Emerson?”

“Thoreau, yes. Walden. Emerson, no.”

“Those men lived a life of the mind—they didn’t have to travel and raise trouble to live a meaningful life. They drew their inspiration from books, but believed that they had their own unique and personal insights just as potent as the ones written by great authors who had gone before. The life of the mind occurs when one takes reading seriously and engrafts personal insights onto the ideas read. And the more they read, the more they weave these disparate threads of thoughts, inserting their own observations as well.”

“I guess I’ve never considered that. In school, I was always among the quiet, dumb crowd, sitting in the back of the room, letting the smart ones in class answer all the questions.”

“Yes, and I’ll lay you a week’s salary that the ‘smart ones’ only knew the answers to questions raised by the teacher. Did you ever think that anyone among your class elite ever had an original thought, or even bounced the ideas of two different authors off of each other?”

“No, I didn’t. And of course I myself never even thought of any of that, until this moment.”

“Hank, I truly believe you are experiencing a conversion, right now.”

“Oh, I’ve been baptized. Twice, actually. The first time as a ten-year-old. I didn’t know what I was doing, so I did it again when I was seventeen.”

“And still didn’t know what you were doing.”

“Uh, yeah, I guess you have a point. But what is this conversion you’re talking about now?”

(to be continued . . .)

I’m getting a kick out of this chapter of the Hank saga. I promise more as it comes to light. Thanks for reading and please check out my website

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Return to Painting as Festival Season Nears

March 2, 2019


Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Palestine, Texas

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

Sacred Heart

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

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


Morning Coffee with Proust

September 5, 2018


. . . all this made of the church for me something entirely different from the rest of the town: an edifice occupying, so to speak, a four-dimensional space–the name of the fourth being Time–extending through the centuries its ancient nave, which, bay after bay, chapel after chapel, seemed to stretch across and conquer not merely a few yards of soil, but each successive epoch from which it emerged triumphant . . . 

Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past

I would not have traded this morning’s sentiments while lingering over the precious words of Proust for anything. I knew I was going to have to dash out of the house before editing and posting today’s blog–I have the rare privilege this week of returning to the high school where I taught for over two decades–Arlington Martin High School–to prep the Academic Decathlon team for their competition that is drawing near. They have asked me to return a couple of times after retirement to coach the team up in art history. This year is America’s Pop Art of the Sixties, and I have had the time of my life researching, re-writing, and preparing Powerpoint lectures on the artists highlighted for this year’s study.

Study times are sacred times for me, and have been so since the 1970’s when I found myself preparing for the pastoral ministry. In the shadow of the church, and later the theological seminary, I cultivated a life-long love for scholarship, and have truly relished the quiet solitary hours spent in study. But I will never be able to write of these experiences as beautifully as Marcel Proust did in his monumental work. The fragment I posted above is part of a ten-page rhapsody describing his boyhood memories of the church where he was nurtured. I would always hope that one day I could record in words as powerful as Proust the layers of feeling I experience when immersed in quiet, contemplative study, in environments such as he described.

Sacred Heart

One of my Church Watercolors

Since the year 2000, I have enjoyed teaching part-time at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, and right before that, I was on staff at the Polytechnic United Methodist Church on the corner of that campus. I used to have an office there, and still on occasion teach a college course in one of their classrooms.

poly church

Polytechnic United Methodist Church

The past eighteen years I have enjoyed on this campus have been a quality extension of my lifestyle of seeking quiet places for study and contemplation.

texas wesleyan

Texas Wesleyan University

On the third floor of their library, I will often ensconce myself, an hour or two before class, and sit beside a window overlooking the sprawling campus, all the way to the Polytechnic Church. I often refer to that third floor as Luther’s Tower, and used to study there late at night when I taught evening courses (being a full-time high school teacher by day had its fringe benefits).

After nearly a year’s hiatus, I got out my guitar and went to an Open Mic last night at Dr. Jeckyll’s Beer Lab in Pantego, Texas. I’m glad I responded to the invitation that came late in the afternoon. The Open Mic only occurs there once a month, but it used to be a nice piece of my routine, and I’m thinking seriously about letting that chapter re-open.

open mike edited

Thanks for reading.