Archive for the ‘St. Louis’ Category

A Soothing Christmas Respite

December 27, 2017

christmas painting

Watercolor Sketch along the Meramec River

Christmas 2017 in St. Louis was blessed with fresh-fallen snow, and I could not stop staring at it out of windows, and even spent time walking in it and taking pictures with my phone. Over the past few days I have been looking at the pictures uploaded to my laptop and finally dashed out this 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of what I saw during a stroll along the Meramec River in Fenton, Missouri.

Thanks for looking.

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Another Limited Edition for the Weekend Show

March 30, 2017

Christmas at Spencer's Grill horizontal

Christmas at Spencer’s Grill

And finally, I’m bringing this limited edition back out for the weekend show at The Gallery at Redlands, 400 N. Queen St., Palestine, Texas.  It is priced at $80.

Spencer’s Grill is located on Kirkwood Road (old Route 66) in St. Louis, Missouri. The business has been there since 1947, and the colorful billboard that advertised the place caught my eye since the days I was too young yet to read. Nearly every time I visit my family in St. Louis, I go to this establishment for an old-fashioned breakfast, seated at a counter stool, feeling that I have entered Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks. I guess I will always be a painter of memories.

Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Day Tripp in St. Louis

March 16, 2017

falstaff

A brilliant sun punctuated the 27-degree morning as my family piled into a passenger van and motored into south St. Louis.  The interior of the van was flooded with conversation punctuated by AM talk radio. Surrounded by my father, sister, brother and niece, I nestled into a “Day Tripp” dedicated to exploring St.Louis landmarks we always knew existed but never really “saw”. I also wanted to re-visit some areas where I lived but was too young to remember with full detail. The AM talk radio was eventually replaced with Son House as we entered the neighbohoods of south St. Louis, and the bottleneck blues served as a perfect soundtrack for what we viewed.

stl home

Watson Road @ Hampton Avenue

The first stop was the apartment building where I lived from the age of 16 months to three years.  The two windows at the top right were kitchen windows, and the two left were bedroom ones, where Mom and I would sit on the bed and look down across the street at school children changing buses.

stl home 2

Eventually, we moved downstairs to the back of the same building. The porch and driveway have since been removed.  I was nearly three by this time, and I remember looking down at my father pulling out of the driveway in his white-over-powder blue 1955 Pontiac 2-door hardtop.  To the right of this picture was a car dealership–Hale Motors. He sold Willy’s Jeeps. Behind the dealership was their body shop, and mechanics worked in the garage with the windows open during the summer.  I would walk down to the shop with a story book tucked uinder my arm, sit on top of a dirt pile where they could see me, and wait for them to come out to eat their lunches. They would then read my book to me. In those days, three-year-olds could wander around their yards and neighbors in the city without danger.

fitzs

University City, adjacent to Washington University, is one of my favorite places to haunt. Fitz Rootbeer was a St. Louis tradition when I grew up, and this sign continues to stir memories.

berry statueChuck Berry monument

Lunch today was at Blueberry Hill where Chuck Berry used to perform one Wednesday night a month until 2014. The place boasts the best burger in St. Louis, and we decided to enjoy lunch there and peruse all the memorabilia, including Chuck Berry’s Gibson hollow body guitar.

Iberry hands

Berry used to own and operate The Southern Air restaurant in Wentzville, Missouri.  Back in the 1980’s, I visited the establishment for lunch and saw him in the dining area, smoking a cigarette. I was taken at the sight of his magnificent hands, and am glad to see they’ve since been casted and installed at Blueberry Hill.

fenton home

Fenton, Missouri

Once we returned home, we found Mom feeling better (she didn’t feel healthy enough for the day-long excursion). As we talked of our past and its memories, she expressed a willingness to jump back into my vehicle with me and visit the places I lived from ages three to five. They moved to Fenton, Missouri, west of St. Louis (and only seven miles from where they live now) when I was three, and settled on this street. Their apartment has long since been razed and replaced by the Fieser Nursing Home on the right side of this street.  All the buildings across the street are the same as they were back then. On the nursing home site where our apartment stood was also the Fieser Funeral Home. They had a basement where they allowed Mom to hang laundry during the cold winter months. She was spooked by the old clothes of the deceased that hung all about the walls, and I was spooked by a large red furnace that made an incredibly loud noise when it kicked on. I thought it was something living that was going to eat me.

hr home

High Ridge

Mom and Dad now reside in High Ridge, in the home where I lived since it was brand new in 1961. But before we moved into that home, we would live in four other locations from my ages of three to six. This apartment was our home for a short time, and Mom’s only memory of me was my running all around the back yard pulling a red wagon with a toad loaded in it. Somehow I instinctively knew when the toad would leap out and I would immediately stop, retrieve it, and reload it to continue the fun ride. She also shared that when I got as far away from the apartment as possible I would stand with feet far apart, refusing to move until she would come all the way out there and carry me back to the house for a clean up.  It had something to do with #2.  It took me awhile to outgrow that. I’ll stop the story there.

hs home

We moved to another location in High Ridge shortly afterward. I have chosen not to visit or photograph it this time.  All I will say now is that a mentally deranged woman owned the property and our time there was not good.  My brother was born during our time there, and I was four years old.  We then moved four miles west along Highway 30 to House Springs. The house where we lived is no longer there.  Above, I photographed the rough terrain alongside Byrnes Mill Road where the house stood. I have dozens and dozens of stories to tell of my time there, because I was old enough to retain those memories and sensations. But that will have to come at another time. I feel I have rambled long enough on this one.

Thanks for reading. I’m still absorbing the memories of today’s visit, and more than two typed pages of material Mom and Dad shared with me as I questioned them this evening about those sketchy memories of my life between the time of 16 months and three years.

Relaxing into Christmas

December 24, 2016

christmas

Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:–

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,

As the swift seasons roll!

Leave thy low-vaulted past!

Let each new temple, nobler than the last,

Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,

Till thou at length are free,

Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The Chambered Nautilus”

Happy Holidays to all my treasured blog readers!  I haven’t posted for over a week, as Christmas obligations and errands, along with the responsibilities of closing out the fall semester, left me with little time for communication.  I did however begin work on my first new series that I am titling “Portals.”  I dragged an antique door from my man cave into my living room studio so I could enjoy painting near the fireplace while listening to Christmas music this past week.  As with every Chrstmas season, I leave a fresh painting-in-progress behind in my studio as I flee to St. Louis and visit with family and friends.  But I always am able to return to my home free of post-holiday depression because of a painting still waiting for me that I’m excited to engage.

I am re-reading an Andrew Wyeth biography that I enjoyed years ago, Richard Meryman’s Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life.  My soul stirs deeply as I read of his life and legacy, and the life and ideas of his father N. C. have taken such a hold on me that I just ordered and received (thanks Amazon!) The Wyeths, by N. C. Wyeth.  That incredibly large man was so charged with literary ideas and philosophical sentiments that I cannot wait to read from the 1200 letters that he left behind, exposing his most intimate thoughts and dreams about art. So, in addition to enjoying my circle of family and friends, I’m enjoying some quality reading and times for reflection.  The holidays are such a warm and intimate time for these kinds of pursuits.

I wish all of you the very best of life as we sail through this season.  Christmas and the New Year always fill me with the most meaningful ponderings.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself tha I am not alone.

Finished the St. Louis Painting

September 22, 2012

My Town Finished (Switzer’s Licorice, St. Louis)

I finally finished this small 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch and am ready to put it in a matte and plastic sleeve.  I’ll bring it out at the Taste of St. Louis art festival next weekend.  Now it is time to get in the Andy Warhol “Factory” mode, as I have plenty of greeting cards and prints to process, gear to pack and a Jeep to load for next week’s sojourn.

Thanks for reading.

Working Toward the St. Louis Art Festival

September 21, 2012

My Town 63050

Friday night has finally arrived.  I’ve been able to give plenty of attention to the watercolor I began last evening.  I hope to finish this tomorrow.  This is an 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of the Switzer Licorice building that stood in downtown St. Louis during my youth.  Unfortunately it was demolished a number of years ago.  It has been my attention for several years to do a few studies of the building and see if I can execute a full-scale watercolor of it on a large sheet of paper.

Thanks for reading.

My Town 63050 (Switzer’s Licorice St. Louis)

September 21, 2012

Switzer’s Licorice, St. Louis

If you read yesterday’s blog, you’ll know that I have toyed with reviving a project I abandoned about a year ago–a series of watercolors titled “My Town 63050.”  My inspiration came from Thornton Wilder, Sherwood Anderson, Garrison Keillor and any other brilliant mind who created their own fictitious town and grew wonderful stories about them.  I once thought I would do the same with watercolor.  Yesterday evening, I began a small watercolor sketch of the old Switzer’s Licorice building on the St. Louis riverfront that has since been demolished.  I grew up looking at that lone sentinel of a building sitting north of the gateway arch, above the Mississippi River.  I figured it was time to re-do a painting of it.  Formerly it had stood in the background of a 1999 watercolor I had titled “Turvey’s Corner.”  I look forward to finishing this and matting it to put in my booth next week when I attend Taste of St. Louis art festival.

Thanks for reading.

Preparing for Taste of St. Louis Art Festival

September 20, 2012

Turvey’s Corner

I am having to find another gear as I resume my daily school responsibilities, unpack my gear from Grapefest and replenish my inventory for next week’s Taste of St. Louis.  I am posting a watercolor I created in 1999, because I am printing the next series of limited edition giclee prints from it, just in time for the St. Louis show.

This marks a turning point in my watercolor odyssey.  It is my first successful composite landscape, with the distant building bearing the Switzer’s Licorice ghost sign coming from the St. Louis waterfront (now sadly demolished), the traction train car from a magazine photo, the right building with ghost signage bearing Busch Bavarian and Budweiser logos came from a small town in Illinois (I believe Prairie du Rocher). The buildings on the left (I think) came from New Bern, North Carolina.  All of the images came from 35mm slides I took years ago while traveling about the country.  I titled this watercolor Turvey’s Corner, because one of my favorite night spots in St. Louis was Turvey’s on the Green on 255 Union Blvd. (now sadly closed) that featured seafood, steak, cigars and St. Louis Blues post-game broadcasts.  I would love to go there and hang out and see Blues hockey players relaxing after a game.

This painting was to be the first of a series that I would call “My Town 63050”.  It was my dream then to create a fictitious town, Anwywhere USA, in the midwest, in the same way that Garrison Keillor created his Lake Wobegon, Sherwood Anderson his Winesburg, Ohio and Thornton Wilder his Grover’s Corners.  I did complete four or five paintings of specific buildings and streets, and had planned to design a town map illustrating where these structures were placed, complete with street addresses.  At some point, I abandoned the project, and only one of the paintings remains in my possession, all the rest of them sold and none of them were editioned.   The zip code is fictitious–I grew up in High Ridge, 63049, and attended high school in the neighboring town House Springs, 63051.

I still think of this abandoned project now and then, wondering if I might take it up again.  I did enjoy the creative juices and imagination I experienced as I worked out the various compositions.

Thanks for reading.

ART STILL HAS TRVTH. SEEK REFVGE THERE.

April 18, 2012

Leading Workshop at Star Harbor

ART STILL HAS TRVTH

SEEK REFVGE THERE

These are the immortal words carved over a side entrance to the Saint Louis Art Museum.  That message has remained with me for three decades, and most especially the past five years, as I’ve sought to carve out a space for myself in the sphere of art.

I feel dry as dust today.  I’m posting a photo of my last sublime art endeavor–associating with the eighteen eager watercolorists of Star Harbor.  I cannot describe how sorely I miss them this day, and have indeed for the past week.  Since those two days we spent, exploring the dynamics of watercolor, I have been submerged in number-crunching in preparation for filing my Income Tax (made the deadline) and then the six-week grading period ended at my high school, and of course, I was behind in that task.  I made that deadline also, shortly before midnight last night.  Today has been that sick, 4-classes in 4-classrooms schedule at my day job, with no planning period in which to stop and breathe.  I have endured this sick schedule for almost an entire school year now–one that I am more than ready to forget.

I had an art business engagement in Plano, Texas this evening, but have decided now to let that one go.  I’m exhausted to the bone, and need to give my body the rest it needs this afternoon, and (hopefully) return to my neglected studio later tonight.  My need to paint has not been adequately served for much too long.  It is time for me to “cultivate my garden,” as Voltaire would have it.  Hopefully, in the sanctity of the studio, I can get my groove back (Stella?).  I could very well  be posting to this blog later tonight, if I manage to do what I intend.

Thanks, all of you, who read me faithfully.  I’m sorry I’ve had nothing to say for days, but taxes and grading are not interesting enough to write about, as far as I’m concerned–hardly worthy of blog space.  I am confident that I’ll be posting quality stuff soon.

St. Louis Christmas around the Corner

December 21, 2011

Trautweins Red Goose Shoes, St. Louis, Missouri

I look forward to seeing my family again during the Christmas holidays.   There is a slight chance of a white Christmas this year.  I photographed this storefront on the south side of St. Louis last Christmas.  It is located on Gravois Road (which turns into Highway 30 eventually), lying on the historic Route 66 stretch through the city.  Unfortunately the store is abandoned, but I spent several minutes peering in through the display windows, remembering the Red Goose Shoe commercials from my childhood.  I hope to get a second look at this south side neighborhood this weekend when I’m in St. Louis.  I wish I could see more of these sites, there seems to be so little time to re-visit my home town.

Thanks for reading.