Archive for the ‘church’ Category

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 www.davidtrippart.com

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 http://www.davidtrippart.com

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

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Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Palestine, Texas

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

Sacred Heart

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

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

 

Morning Coffee with Proust

September 5, 2018

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. . . 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.

Resting in Tintern Abbey

March 27, 2018

tintern abbey

And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting sun,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. 

William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798”

I feel this impulse to publish yesterday’s “journal”, Monday March 26, 2018. I awoke at seven a.m. in the basement of The Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas, one of my favorite spaces in the world. It is an apartment beneath The Gallery at Redlands where we have just celebrated our one-year anniversary of the gallery opening. After reading and scribbling in my journal while enjoying a glass of orange juice, I then went out to the cool breezy morning and commenced a two-mile walk about the historic downtown, filling my eyes and imagination with the multitude of shop facades that had more activity fifty years ago than they did this morning.

After showering and dressing, I set out for my two-hour journey to Fort Worth. I had a Humanities class at noon. While gassing up at a filling station out in the country north of Palestine, I was shocked to see that the Harley behind which I had parked at the pumps belonged to Dave Shultz, the photographer and webmaster for The Redlands Hotel who has become such a legend about that place and with whom I became friends only a few months ago. We stood and chatted far too long, because I had a class I needed to make. But I couldn’t help myself–talking with him is always an exhilarating experience and we never run out of subjects to explore. He was just beginning a two-day road odyssey on his Harley, as is his lifestyle, taking pictures and ruminating on the surrounding countryside. I envied him, for I had a job to do, and was in danger of being late.

To my surprise, after two hours of driving across the country, I walked into my first class at exactly 12:00 noon. Of course the students wondered, because I am always the first one there, long before time to start. Some of them arrive as early as fifteen minutes before start time, and we always enjoy chatting while waiting to begin. Our topic of discussion was Henry David Thoreau’s second chapter of Walden, and nobody let me down–the discussions of the two back-to-back classes were lively and engaged. I was floating on a cloud when it came time to leave.

Ten minutes away, my friends, Ron and Dian Darr, were waiting at an outside table for me in Fort Worth’s downtown Sundance Square. The weather was picture perfect, and we enjoyed the breezes moving through the downtown corridors as we sat and visited from 3:00 till after 5:00. As we returned to our vehicles and said our goodbyes, I saw down the street this relic of a church that was discovered in 1988, enclosed inside a large warehouse that had been targeted for demolition. When the city discovered what had been hidden for decades, they decided to preserve it and put this historical marker in place:

plaque

Numerous times over the past decade, I have sat inside this relic, either alone with a book or with a companion for conversation. I love the dual feelings of Loss and Presence that accompany me when I spend time in this kind of environment, musing over the myriads of souls that once congregated here. I was a minister long ago, and I often enjoy the memories of events that unfolded in those days. Those memories often stir me when I sit in this place.

Tintern Abbey is the remains of a Gothic church in England, rebuilt in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. After Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s, the church fell into ruins. Below is a pencil and watercolor sketch of the site, created by the seventeen-year-old Joseph Mallord William Turner during his hike to the region, six years before Wordsworth wrote his immortal poem of the site.

tintern abbey book

Someday I hope to do a serious pencil and watercolor rendering of Fort Worth’s historic remains of the Fourth Street Church, my own Tintern Abbey.

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.

 

 

Painting into the Quiet Night

March 25, 2018

terlingua

A soft liquid joy like the noise of many waters flowed over his memory and he felt in his heart the soft peace of silent spaces of fading tenuous sky above the waters, of oceanic silence, of swallows flying through the seadusk over the flowing waters.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

This most exquisite, quiet evening in the basement of the Redlands Hotel has been divided between working on this small 8 x 10″ watercolor of an abandoned church in the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas and taking breaks to read the soothing words of James Joyce. I cannot get out of my mind’s eye the image of this church I photographed while the sun was setting in west Texas. Waking this morning and recalling these words I had recorded earlier from my reading of Joyce made me determined to get this painting started.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday Morning Splendor

March 4, 2018

Hopper church

11×14″ framed Sacred Heart Catholic Church. $200

Waking at 4:18 this morning was not part of the plan, but nevertheless I got up, feeling rested. Enjoying the dark and quiet of the basement studio of The Redlands Hotel, I managed to finish all my grading, so I can now return the writing portfolios to my Humanities classes tomorrow afternoon. I did not anticipate the elevated mood that grading these works would generate. The subjects ranged from art in the Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods, along with poetry from Wordsworth and Whitman. Many of the students indeed poured out their hearts onto the typed pages, and the more I read and graded, the happier I grew. By the time I was finished at 6:30, I was ready to go out and try to do something creative.

The painting posted above I managed to frame and hang yesterday in The Gallery at Redlands. Last night, I completed work on a piece I had begun en plein air during a Mississippi stay over in February when I drove to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama to deliver two watercolors (the auction was March 1 and I’m still waiting to find out what happened).  The Mississippi piece I matted and put up in the gallery last night as well.

Mississippi snow

Snowfall in Clarksdale, Mississippi, 11×14″ matted. $100

Shelton Hall

Shelton Hall, 11×14″ matted.  $100

I finally completed work on a plein air attempt of Shelton Hall, located in Old Town Palestine, several blocks from the gallery.

small church

Sacred Heart Catholic Church. 8×10″ framed.  $50

Once the grading was completed this morning, I left the dark basement and emerged into the early light, finding the environment overcast and ready to rain. I sketched out the Sacred Heart Catholic Church while seated on a bench outside the Carnegie Library building. Once I began painting, the cold winds began to stir and knocked over my container of water. The brushes were also blowing off the bench, so I decided to take a reference photo and descend once again into the basement where I have set up one of my drafting tables. I worked quickly on this 5×7″ composition, then inserted it into an 8×10″ frame and installed it into the gallery as well.

Chamber of Commerce

Currently I am working on the Chamber of Commerce building, for the fourth time, somewhat disappointed that there is no sunlight on it today. But it is still refreshing to look out the gallery window and see it directly, instead of relying on photos of it.

The day is shaping up to be another productive one, and it feels good. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Driven

March 2, 2018

Fri2

I must say something certainly got into me today, a surge of energy to paint. I awoke around 6 this morning, feeling confident and ready to face a new day, which turned out to be sunny for the first time in a couple of weeks, and very pleasant and cool outdoors.

Fri

After working on my large Catholic church painting for awhile, I decided to take a book outside and read in the cool shade. Finding a bench beneath a tree in front of what used to be a Carnegie Library next to this Redlands Hotel, I sat and enjoyed about thirty minutes of thoughtful reading from Hannah Arendt’s The Life of the Mind. I became aware of her work through my studies in Heidegger, but had never read her directly. I am finding this book to be very thought-provoking, after the first seventy pages.

Walking back to the gallery, I looked up at the top of the church as the bells tolled the twelve o’clock hour. I was attracted to the strong sun and shadow, and dashed into the gallery for a sketchbook. I am the world’s worst when it comes to keeping a sketchbook; I believe in it, but don’t practice it, and always feel shamed by this fact. Today was a rare moment–I sat on a bench and rapidly blocked out this sketch, then went inside and began on a 9 x 12″ watercolor block. Later this evening, I finished it.

Fri4

Before completing the small watercolor, I returned to the larger one I’ve worked on for a few days and finished it.

Fri3

My body is tired, but I need to complete my grading of this stack of writing portfolios for my Humanities class so I can return them Monday. I’m deeply satisfied with the day’s output. I began another painting of the Chamber of Commerce building, visible through the window of this gallery. I’ve already painted the subject three times, and sold all three quite quickly. Still, I cannot stop gazing at the sun lighting up the side of the ancient brick structure which used to be the headquarters for the railroad here in Palestine. I plan to post the progress of that painting tomorrow. Currently there is not much to see.

Thanks always for reading and for sharing this day.

I paint in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

 

 

Quality Time and Space

March 2, 2018

basement

Early Morning Sanctuary

. . . the loss of common sense is neither the vice nor the virtue of Kant’s “professional thinkers”; it happens to everybody who ever reflects on something; it only happens more often to professional thinkers. These we call philosophers, and their way of life will always be “the life of a stranger” (bios senikos), As Aristotle called it in his PoliticsAnd the reason that strangeness and absent-mindedness are not more dangerous, that all “thinkers,” professionals and laymen alike, survive so easily the loss of the feeling of realness, is just that the thinking ego asserts itself only temporarily: every thinker no matter how eminent remains “a man like you and me” (Plato), an appearance among appearances equipped with common sense and knowing enough common-sense reasoning to survive.

Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind

The last time I knew this level of serenity and heartfelt satisfaction was when I awoke mornings on the island at the Laguna Madre during my stays in 2015 and 2016. As artist-in-residence for Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, I was given two six-day stays alone at their field station on the spoil island. The quiet that enveloped me throughout each day as I divided my time between painting, reading and writing was much like what I know in the basement of the Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas. During these quiet mornings, punctuated by the hourly tolling bells of Sacred Heart Catholic Church above me, and directly across the street, I feel my soul slowly waking after a good night’s sleep, and reading Hannah Arendt over a cup of coffee is deeply satisfying. Time to read, reflect and write at this study table has been luxurious, and I feel a genuine surge of energy rising to meet the tasks of the day. Later in the morning, I’ll walk across the studio to the drafting table and contemplate the next steps on this new watercolor. Then, around 10 o’clock, I plan to open the gallery upstairs.

draft

I cannot say enough about the value of space and quiet for serious thinking. Throughout my years of full-time teaching, it was a struggle to escape the rat race of daily routines, so much valuable time was wasted on tasks required by the job, yet so useless and devoid of quality when it came to the main task of educating young minds. How refreshing now to meet classes only twice a week and have an abundance of quality time to research and write new presentations. Last week I had the privilege of presenting Impressionist art in a way I never could before, because there was so much more time to focus on the subject and develop new angles of approach. As Hannah Arendt wrote above, we don’t expect to spend entire days contemplating our navels; we just wish for some space to pull back from the agenda and think seriously over things that matter.

Likewise with my painting–at this point in my life I’m enraptured at the increased opportunities to study theory and art history. In addition, I have more time to spend with other artists in dialogue, and hence gain new insights into this enterprise of making art that matters. Without time set aside for serious consideration about the kind of art I’m trying to make, I could easily find my brush drifting into automatic pilot and merely cranking out a product that has been swept clean of inspiration.  I have always wanted my paintings to matter, to myself as well as to the viewers.

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.