Archive for the ‘Tavern’ Category

Rolling Out a New Series

May 30, 2019

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Turvey’s Corner 63050 (First in a New Series)

Leaning into the polar winds that snapped through the narrow valley of the sleeping Missouri town, Denzil Tucker emerged from the Terra Lounge bar with his snow shovel. Frigid overnight winds had hardened the drifts across the walkway. As he bent to his task, the piercing cacophonous whistle from the Frisco Railroad F9 diesel signaled its approach to the crossing, half a block from the tavern, and Denzil felt beneath his boots the vibrations of the thundering freight cars as they rolled by.

Turning his head, he looked back up the empty street to regather his thoughts. It was a sixteen-degree December morning in Turvey’s Corner, and his mind was numb to the possibilities of anything memorable happening on this particular day. The Korean Conflict was two years behind him, the 38th parallel over 7,000 miles away. But his first-born son, not yet a year old, was slumbering in a dark bedroom on the second story above, and these thoughts offered him a measure of serenity in the face of the frozen morning. 

*********

My blog has been silent for several weeks, not due to writer’s or painter’s block, but because of days spent in the studio painting and at the desk researching and writing. Since the early 1990’s, I have had this compulsion to paint a series of watercolors illustrating the quintessential American town.  My inspiration has been the literary contributions of Garrison Keillor, Thornton Wilder, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, Edgar Lee Masters, William Faulkner and others. In addition to the paintings, I have sought to develop a cast of characters with their own stories, hoping to come up with my own work combining painting and literature. This project has now spanned nearly three decades, with countless paintings done and just as many stories written. Now that I have begun chipping away at my memoir, I have decided to pull together these fragments from years gone by, and contribute new paintings and stories to the growing collection. Back in March, I held my first gallery talk on “Art in Small Town America” and announced to that audience my intentions for this project.

My town is named Turvey’s Corner, and the zip code falls between two Missouri towns that shaped my upbringing–High Ridge 63049 and House Springs 63051. The painting above is taken from a forgotten corner of lower House Springs, where Highway MM intersects with a recently altered old Highway 30. Over the years I have photographed this row of buildings in all seasons of the year and decided this time to focus on one of my winter compositions.

The narrative for this collection of paintings is loosely constructed from my personal life experience, the man shoveling snow above is my father (with a fake name). The Korean conflict is true, and I am the infant sleeping upstairs. The year is 1954. My father was never a tavern owner, but I thought that story would yield more character than his work as a mechanic for St. Louis car dealerships. I’m still fleshing out the details, and deeply enjoying the work as it unfolds.

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.

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Watercoloring Harleys from the Man Cave

October 11, 2011

Harleys in Blanco, Texas

I believe this is the first time I pushed a watercolor so far on the first day.  I didn’t really get after the work until after school today, but found myself chipping away at it all afternoon and into the evening.  I believe I’ll have it finished tomorrow.  It’s not like I have other things to worry about–administering a PSAT test, teaching four classes, and giving a private lesson after school, and then getting my gear ready for an art festival for which I’ll leave in 48 hours.  Oh well, I guess there is no rest for the weary.  But honestly, I enjoyed working on this piece, actually playing with this piece.  I don’t know where all the time went.

The Man Cave was a great environ this afternoon and evening.  I enjoyed Neil Young Unplugged on an old VHS I purchased years ago.  Then I listened to Prince’s Purple Rain twice.   So, the music was great company.

Time to climb into bed and face that monster tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

A Shout Out to the little town of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois!

March 10, 2011

Turvey's Corner

I am posting a watercolor that I completed in 1999, the first completed watercolor from my intensified quest to become a “professional” watercolorist, rather than a novice or Sunday Painter type.  The actual setting is a composite of three places I had visited throughout my life.  The Switzer building I always knew from downtown St. Louis, near where I grew up (sadly that building/landmark  has since been torn down).  The buildings on the left margin came from New Bern, North Carolina, a town I visited only one time in the mid-1990’s, and actually used the interior of a coffee shop there (the Trent River Coffee Company) to compose a mural at Arlington Martin High School (that mural can be viewed under the “Murals” tab of my website http://www.recollections54.com).

The building on the right, with the Budweiser and Busch ghost signs, I only knew as coming from a town in Illinois.  I scoured a number of those towns very early in the 1990’s with my father, but did not take good notes in my journal.  Since 1999, I have been unable to tell people specifically where I found that striking building to anchor the right side of this composition.

All of that changed at Open House last Monday night.  Parents of one of my A. P. Art History students were visiting with me, and as we shared our backgrounds, it was established that the father had grown up in Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, near  Fort de Chartes.  I recognized those names immediately as two of the places I had scouted with my father during that summer excursion in the early ’90s.  I told this gentleman about my painting titled “Turvey’s Corner,”  explaining that one of the buildings came from a small Illinois town in his general area.  Today I received the surprise email from him, informing me that he had looked up my painting on the website and immediately recognized this “phantom” building as Lisa’s Market Street Grille in downtown Prairie du Rocher!

How thrilling to meet someone who connected with one of these small towns far, far away that connected with me in my travels!  Having an identity now for that building means everything to me, as I now can tell people more about the painting and what generated the idea for it.  I am adding the Facebook link to Lisa’s Market Street Grille, encouraging any of you interested to check out this business.  I was a patron there when I took my photographs of the establishment with my 35mm camera long ago, and still have fond memories of the place.  How happy I am to re-discover the business, and I cannot wait to return some day.   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisas-Market-Street-Grille/274360247861

Thank you, Mike and Karen, for providing this information for me.

And thanks to all of you for reading.

 

Kerouac Jazz Moods for Late Night

March 8, 2011

jazz at the bistro

Trying to unwind and get to sleep.  Earlier today I posted the Red Goose Shoes sign from a low angle, reflected in a store front window, and just now recalled this low-angle Jazz sign I painted last year with a reflection off the window.  This marks the first time I ever tried to paint a window reflection.

This original watercolor, unfortunately, was either lost or stolen last summer.  The organization that had possession of it made good and paid me the listed price of the painting, and fortunately I had images of it to make limited edition giclee prints.  But it always sickens me to have an original piece come up missing like this.

It’s very likely that I could finish the Red Goose Shoes painting tomorrow.  I’m ready to move on to another composition.  Red Goose gave me headaches, with all the detail called forth.  I’m ready for something looser and more atmospheric.  We’ll see what transpires.

Thanks for reading.

The Passing of a Local Blues Guitar Legend

February 9, 2011

Zeb Cash-Lane, holding his Fender Jazzmaster

My Watercolor Tribute to Zeb

Zeb Cash-Lane passed away yesterday, February 8, 2011.  He had taken me under his wing back in 2006 when I was trying to find my way as a blues guitarist.  I played side guitar for him at the Peppermill Lounge in east Fort Worth, Texas for a few months spanning 2006-2007.  Zeb’s health was failing then, and when news came this morning that he had died, I could only hope he hadn’t suffered.  I had seen him on many days when it was a struggle just to draw a breath.  I’ll always remember with gratitude what he taught me about guitar, music, performance and a host of other matters relative to the music environment.  And I will always recall the sensations of his Fender Stratocaster shrieking in the night as he belted out his original blues compositions.

I close by posting recollections recorded in my personal journal the morning after I met him:

Friday morning, October 13, 2006, 7:50 a.m., Martin High School Philosophy Class:

Last night, I had a life-altering encounter at a recording studio in east Arlington.  I met for the first time Zeb Cash-Lane, an aged blues musician, specializing in harp and searing electric guitar (Fender Jazzman played through a Fender tube amp).  It was a night to remember always and I now attempt to record the visions . . .

7:00 p.m. Thursday found me pushing my Jeep westward on Abram, with temperatures dropping, a chilly October evening and a sun sinking large, flooding the western sky with color.  Looming silhouettes of tire shops and tattoo parlors paraded down the corridors of my peripheral glances.  Finally, the cinder block building came into sight.  Jim Farmer waited outside on the parking lot with a slender, rangy man sporting a Rasputin-like full white beard, faded jeans, suspenders and a gray-blue “Charley Guitar Shop” T-shirt.  I was introduced and shook hands with Zeb Cash-Lane.

Inside the dim studio room that doubled as Zeb’s dorm room, we heard the searing electric blues that Zeb ripped.  It was an authentic Blues environ: whiskey bottles, ashtrays, Zeb rolling his own cigarettes, scattered amps, guitars, a cello and even an upright piano.  The room had the clutter of a maintenance shed or electrician’s shop, but it was a music room.  A Blues room, a three-dimensional photo gallery of where Zeb was and where Zeb had been.  Jim Farmer played his new electric bass, Zeb played his Fender Jazzman and I played my Martin D-35.  The Blues seared, screamed and moaned late into that cold October night.  Inside, the guitars cried while outside, the winds answered with a chorus of mournful, yet affirming howls. Stormy Monday set the tone for the Blues night in the studio.

After hours of playing, we sat outside on the concrete steps, weary but full of hope about our musical collaboration, and shared stories over cold beers.  I drove home, late in the night, numbed by the experience.

Kerouac Country, November 15, 2010

November 15, 2010

Kerouac Country

I have posted similar information in another entry today, so I will try not to duplicate (much).  I began this painting Saturday morning during the first of a 2-day art festival, where very few patrons were coming around the booth.  Too much time on my hands, so I figured I needed to do something constructive rather than stand around.

I have painted this site before.  I wish I took better notes on my travels.  All I know is that this structure is in New Mexico and I spent plenty of time on historic Route 66 on the day that I photographed this site.  I just don’t know for sure if it was on Route 66, or on a connecting highway.  I believe it is northwest of Santa Rosa.  If any of you readers recognize it, perhaps you could help me.

The weekend art festival was a one-hour drive for me, and I listened to CDs of Kerouac’s On the Road as I drove through the country.  Thus I was prompted to paint some of those “open-country” themes.

I miss the independent cafes and diners that were such an important part of our road trips in the fifties.  I was saddened years ago to find that the “Owl Shanty” along Route 61 in southeast Missouri was only a concrete slab barely visible among the weeds.  Most of our American roadside past is buried beneath the weeds and concrete.

This particular diner looks like the kind I enjoyed in the days of my youth.  When I drove past it on that particular day, and saw the gathering thunder clouds in the distance, I felt a Proust-like “recollection” of childhood moments that were profoundly important to me then, and still are.

Thank you for reading.

Return to the Silver Dollar Tavern, November 7, 2010

November 7, 2010

Silver Dollar Tavern

With a gallery opening this coming weekend, and another art festival running at the same time, I’m in a pinch to finish some paintings.  This one I abandoned a few months back.  Earlier photos of it have already been posted on the blog.  I am the guitar player–a friend photographed me playing at an art festival several years back.  The GMC pickup is from an abandoned site somewhere in New Mexico (I remember the summer but not the town).  The abandoned tavern is in Old Appleton, Missouri, alongside old Highway 61, north of Cape Girardeau.  My father frequented this joint when he was a young adult.  He recalls that the bar was on the ground floor, and the dance floor on the second story.  I haven’t visited the site since about the year 2000, and it was in bad shape.  I fear that I will return one day to find it gone, like so many other derelict character-laden structures I have painted over the years.

Thanks for reading.

Zeb Plays the Blues, November 5, 2010

November 5, 2010

Zeb Plays the Blues

I’ve been engaged with this piece for about 3 days now.  This is Zeb Cash-Lane of Arlington, Texas.  A few years back, I played in a blues band with him that did regular gigs at the Peppermill Lounge in east Fort Worth.  Zeb is an outstanding electric bluesman, with a host of original songs to his credit and plenty of experience in the recording studio.  Hopefully I can finish this over the weekend.  I have another festival approaching in eight days, and the school schedule is becoming less flexible.  It’s getting harder to find quality time for plein air or studio work.

Thanks for reading.

Finding My Way Back, September 26, 2010

September 26, 2010

Route 66 Road House

It’s been along time since I’ve posted.  I have managed to do some painting, but mostly I’ve been teaching on two campuses and participating in art festivals.  The one posted above was done during the Jazz by the Boulevard festival in Fort Worth the weekend of September 11.  The sales were a little slow, and the crowd thin at times (and the heat and humidity absolutely despicable!).  So I worked on this throughout the Saturday portion of the event, and finished it early Sunday morning just after the gates re-opened for day two of the festival.  For anyone looking at my website (www.recollections54.com), you will notice that I’ve tried this composition before, only the website version has railroad tracks cutting off the bottom of the composition.  That was due to cold feet–I couldn’t make up my mind how to lay in the foreground highway.  The website version sold, and I decided I would give this composition another shot, only this time put in the highway as it appears in the photograph I took several years ago while cruising about in New Mexico.  I think this one is much improved.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll try to post more frequently, as I have other works now in progress.  However, I do have four festivals approaching over the next four consecutive weekends.

Nearing Finish to Road House, July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

I’m closing in on the finish of this one.  I need to finish out the pressed tin siding, and continue to work on the shadow at the top of the building, and finally finish out the foreground.  Almost there.  It’s been a long day in the studio and I feel it.

Thanks for reading.