Archive for the ‘Turvey’s Corner’ Category

Waiting out the Rain at Edom Art Festival

October 11, 2019

The Shed Cafe

Watercolor of my “Second Office”

Outisde it is 45 degrees and raining. Fortunately for me, The Shed Cafe is adjacent to the festival grounds, so I have a warm, dry place to wait for the rain to subside before I set up the tent for this weekend’s Edom Art Festival. Forecast calls for 0% precipitation tomorrow, so my heart is gladdened. Today’s rain is expected to stop in the next hour or so and I can get back to work. Meanwhile I am enjoying this coffee on a cold morning.

I am adding an artist’s chapter to my cycle of paintings and stories for this new series Turvey’s Corner 63050. Following is my true story to accompany the painting above:

At sixty, the artist came to realize that life comes heavier and wearier. The Edom Art Festival offered to him his first crack at a juried, high-end art venue. Setting up his booth on a chilly October Friday, he thought over all the ways he could trim expenses for the weekend. By nightfall, he decided to postpone hotel rental until the final night, thus guaranteeing a good night’s rest before breaking down at festival’s end. So, tonight he would sleep in the back of his Jeep Grand Cherokee parked on the perimeter of the festival grounds, at the edge of the deep forest. The Jeep did not offer the most comfortable sleeping accommodations, and most of the night was given to tossing and turning before the sleep of exhaustion finally conquered his constitution.

Waking at dawn, he stumbled out of his vehicle and trudged up the hill through the darkened festival grounds. The morning was chilly and foggy as he walked past row after row of shuttered booths. Rounding the privacy fence at the end of the pasture, he entered the parking lot of the Shed Café and his heart leapt with joy at the sight of the eatery silhouetted against the dawn sky, smoke billowing from the chimney, and the crisp October winds bringing to him the aroma of coffee and frying bacon. What a splendid morning to encounter! With breakfast finished, he found a comfortable seat on the Shed porch, opened his journal and poured out his gratitude on the pages while watching the sun rise over the distant tree line. The festival was going to be a sublime experience.

photo of early morning Shed

The Shed, Photographed years ago when I Rounded the Privacy Fence

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Lunch at The Shed today, waiting out the Rain

All my years spent at the Edom Art Festival and The Shed are warm memories indeed, and I am grateful to be invited back this year for another round. The rain outside appears to have stopped, so I have a house to build!

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 Addition to Turvey’s Corner Series

September 21, 2019

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Every now and then one spies Turner’s vulnerability to depression, or pressure, and his need to escape.

Franny Moyle, Turner: The Extraordinary Life & Momentous Times of J. M. W. Turner

I wanted to take a moment and share with my readers a new watercolor begun last evening while working in The Gallery at Redlands. When I came downstairs this morning, I disliked the work I started last night–the pigments appeared heavy to my eye. Throughout this morning I have tried to work more in lighter, transparent washes, and focus on some details. I believe it is starting to shape up now. I may possibly finish this during tomorrow’s brunch in the Queen St Grille across the lobby. I’ll be painting there from 11-2.

I’ll post again later today (unless this painting takes an ugly turn!). It is a quiet Saturday in Palestine and my combination of reading and painting has been soothing to the soul. I’ve enjoyed the quiet space to read in this biography of J. M. W. Turner. The times of withdrawal I know with great familiarity as they have punctuated my years in the best ways possible. I brought my Greek New Testament to Palestine with me over the weekend and have been translating the passages from the Gospels that describe the withdrawals of Jesus from his public ministry. Though I myself left the pastoral ministry long ago, I have nevertheless maintained a rhythm of public and private activity throughout my teaching career, and now retired, find it much easier to find space for solitude. These quiet times are invaluable in the way they recharge my battery and impel me to move forward again. Last Monday, after giving a public presentation for which I had prepared for a number of months, I lapsed into this delicious quiet, enjoying a week of only two appointments, and then retreating once again to Palestine. I could not have ordered up a more perfect day than this.

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.

Creative Weekend in the Gallery at Redlands

September 21, 2019

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If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?

Albert Einstein

The Einstein quote arrived at a perfect moment this morning, as I was beginning to feel concern over the pile of tools cluttering my gallery desk top.  I felt serene, entering the sacred space early this morning after a good night’s rest. I had worked the night before until quite late, beginning a new watercolor to add to my series “Turvey’s Corner 63050”.

The throbbing of Union Pacific diesels two blocks away can be felt this morning through the floor of the Redlands Hotel as a slow-moving freight lumbers past the railyard. Palestine slumbers beneath overcast skies, while gray covers this old downtown section like a comfortable old quilt. Music wafts into the gallery from the lobby area, and I have enjoyed the past few hours, moving back and forth between this new painting and reading a biography I acquired recently on Joseph Mallord William Turner.

The weekend is a lovely gift as I find myself with no pressing deadlines or appointments. Sunday I will be painting in the new Queen St Grille again during brunch hours (11-2). I was invited to do that last Sunday and the restaurant had its largest Sunday crowd to date. I’ve been invited again, and gratefully accept. I love the Redlands Hotel and its soothing atmosphere. Friday morning, I enjoyed the radio guys again, Kevin and Alan in the Morning at Smooth Rock 93.5 broadcasting out of this Gallery at Redlands. I miss the fellows over the weekend, but appreciate the quiet studio space. I am managing to pursue creative eros with this new painting in progress. Hopefully there will be enough of it to show on the next blog . . .

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.

 

Creative Eros

September 11, 2019

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The Romantic Part of the Morning

I am in a high fever of working, and so absorbed, so tired at day’s end, I don’t have the strength to write . . . I know it’s bad, but work above all. I am overjoyed to be back at it.

Claude Monet, quoted at the Kimbell Art Museum exhibit

Smooth jazz plays in the background, and the softness of the morning buoys my spirits while I continue thinking over a presentation for Monday evening before the Society of Watercolor Artists. I have been scheduled for this event for about a year now, so it has not crept up on me. Back in March, I began compiling materials for the demonstration and have now spent recent weeks editing them into a formal presentation.

My plan is to open with a brief talk concerning the source that drives artistic expression. Following that, I will demonstrate some techniques I discovered two summers ago while painting en plein air in Colorado. And finally, I will introduce the major series I have worked on the past couple of decades, titled “Turvey’s Corner 63050.” This final segment has taken the lion’s share of my time in recent weeks. I cannot share all the paintings and stories that comprise the series, and am trying now to figure just which ones to present. I’ll use Powerpoint to project the paintings before the audience, and will need to decide which stories to share. Naturally, I’m concerned about cramming too much into the time period.

Most of my recent days have been divided between studio time, experimenting with my recent watercolor techniques, and desk time, writing and revising the cycles of stories that have emerged from the paintings I wish to share in this series. This is nothing new to me; for as long as I can remember, my quality time has been divided between painting, reading, journaling and composing stories. To some, this sounds like multi-tasking at its best, or attention-deficit-disorder at its worst. There are days when I feel I lack focus; yet other times when I am delighted by the variety embracing my creative eros.

Surprisingly, I have not felt the anxieties that used to torment me when preparing for a public event. I am not sure if this is due to aging, maturing, or the mere repetition of public speaking. Having retired from full time teaching over two years now, I speak much less frequently in public, and actually enjoy it much more now–there seems to be much more time to prepare for each event, and the general eudaimonia I sense from the audiences has melted away my former performance anxieties. Maybe it’s because I am no longer posturing for some kind of career advancement. At any rate, I welcome with open arms this sense of calm. Reading Hemingway’s testimony concerning his early writing has also given me a sense of equilibrium.

I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You  have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”  So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that you knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written. Up in that room I decided that I would write one story about each thing that I knew about. I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and severe discipline.

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

I certainly know about the cutting away of “scrollwork or ornament” that Hemingway mentioned. Countless times in recent weeks I have deleted content from my powerpoint presentation or lecture manuscript, pruning my tree to a stump, then returned to my fundamental base, and began the rebuilding of the presentation. After all, this is my own artwork I have been asked to share, and I need not embellish it by artificial ornamentation.

After months away, I anticipate with gratitude a return to Palestine, Texas this weekend. I have missed the Gallery at Redlands, Smooth Rock 93.5, and the hospitable atmosphere of the historic Redlands Hotel. Since I have been away, the Red Fire Grille has changed hands, now known as the Queen St Grille. Jean and Mike have asked me to work on my watercolors in the restaurant Sunday from 11:00-2:00. They have already selected some of my paintings from the gallery to display in the restaurant, invoking a railroad theme. This will be my first time to provide an artist’s “prensence” in a restaurant environment, and I look forward to the new experience. You can check out their link here:  https://www.facebook.com/RedFireGrille/

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I have missed my radio friends during this long absence, but still enjoy Kevin and Alan in the Morning, streaming Smooth Rock 93.5 on my laptop while working at my desk during mornings such as this. Their music format remains my favorite.

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Kevin and Alan outside the Station and Gallery

There is still plenty to do on this presentation, so I guess I’ll return to it.

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.

Requiem for the Fourth

June 24, 2019

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Requiem for the Fourth (Still in Progress)

He tasted the dry dust as he walked along the Historic Route 66 thoroughfare, the hot August winds bending the roadside weeds. After twenty years away, he had resolved to return to Turvey’s Corner to see what remained. What he hadn’t anticipated was his truck breaking down more than ten miles from the town he longed to see. Rounding yet another bend in the road and looking up at the weed-choked hill on his left, he felt his heart sink as he gazed upon what remained of the combination fireworks and souvenir shop. In the 1950’s, this established was one of the major draws for tourists crossing America via Route 66. Interstate 44 had managed to strangle and kill the few remaining businesses on old 66. 

Pausing in silence, he felt a sense of loss as he gazed upon this relic barely peeking over the heads of the dancing weeds. But as he lingered, he slowly sensed a presence as he recalled the sounds that used to reverberate from this site. Station wagons would pull into the parking lot and children squealing with ecstasy would leap out of the car to rush inside and explore. Later they would re-emerge, their arms laden with moccasins, beaded necklaces and tomahawks.

During the Fourth of July season, he recalled the scenes of fathers pulling up in their cars on their way home from work. Though tired from their labors, they seemed to reignite with fresh energy as they went inside to fill grocery sacks with Roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers and sparklers to take home to anticipating children.

The conflicting emotions of loss and presence flooded the man’s soul as he trudged past this scene on his way to the town he once knew.

.  .  .  .  .

I am nearing completion of my fourth painting in the new series Turvey’s Corner 63050.  For years I have looked for a vintage roadside fruit stand to include in my new project, but all I seem to find are new structures. Meanwhile I decided to go ahead and paint this derelict structure that I have passed by for years in southwest Missouri along Interstate 44 en route to St. Louis to visit my folks.

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.

Constructing my own Narrative

June 21, 2019

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“Early Sunday Stroll” No. 3 of the Turvey’s Corner 63050 Series

There was no culture, you know, in Spoon River,

And I burned with shame and held my peace.

                                . . . and pray for another

Birth in the world, with all of Spoon River

Rooted out of my soul.

Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

For the past week, I have spent every day chipping away at this watercolor of the view along Palestine’s N. Queen Street that passes between the Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Redlands Hotel (the Gallery at Redlands is on the first floor of the historic hotel).  Along with my painting has come a surge of reading and writing.

Earlier this year I purchased Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. This book encourages the recently retired to compose their memoirs. While working on mine, I decided to re-shape the narratives of my memories into fiction stories to accompany the paintings I am working on for my new project Turvey’s Corner 63050. This series is my own autobiography in paintings and reworked fiction narratives. The painting above is the third of this new series.

While working on my stories, and reading for inspiration, I struck gold this week, mostly from Rich Karlgaard’s Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement , Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology and Larry McMurtry, Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections on Sixty and Beyond. 

Karlgaard wrote that late bloomers are natural storytellers. He added: “In our personal lives, we think in stories, talk in stories, communicate in stories, and dream in stories.”

It’s safe to say that the default mode of human cognition is narrative. We instinctively make reason out of chaos and assign causality to all the random events that make up our lives. Stories help us do that. . . . We impose a narrative structure on otherwise random sequences of events until they cohere in a way that makes sense to us and that we can manage.

Reading these words set off a firestorm of creative eros within me and I found myself pouring out my memories on the pages of my journal and then reshaping them into fiction narratives. Opening the Spoon River Anthology, I  began reading the lengthy Introduction by John E. Hallwas and found with delight the following testimony of the editor who discovered Masters and published his work in his own magazine:

But it was left to Edgar Lee Masters to take all this, or as much of it as suited his purposes, and fuse it and shape it into an artistic creation. . . . He saw and knew his Spoon River so well that when he came to write it out of himself, with his personality added to what he saw and knew, he wrote the life of man everywhere, or at least everywhere in America.

William Marion Reedy, Reedy’s Mirror, November 20, 1914

For the past twenty-four hours, I have found it difficult deciding between painting and reading Spoon River Anthology. So much of the testimony matches up with experiences I have known growing up in my part of the midwest. In the weeks ahead, I hope to continue adding stories and paintings to the blog as I probe this new venture. While working on this, I feel the presence of others looking over my shoulder and affirming my efforts, namely the great writers Thornton Wilder, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, William Faulkner and Garrison Keillor. Hazel also watches . . .

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Hazel, my favorite Jack Russell Terrier, overseeing the blog

Number 1

No. 1 in the Series

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No. 2 in the Series

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Thoughts on a Rainy Sunday Morning

June 16, 2019

palestine beginnings

Early Sunday Morning (still in progress)

The sight of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church tightened the heart of the young divinity student when he turned the corner onto Queen Street. The early Sunday morning stroll had been the first relaxing moment he felt since his return to Turvey’s Corner for a semester break visit. The looming façade brought into his memory a passage he had recently translated from his Greek New Testament:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

During his teenage years, the fellow had “surrendered to the ministry” (the congregation’s description of his decision). Under the close watch of the Divinity School, he pursued with delight the serious exposition of the scriptures, and when he came across this passage, he felt his entire life turning smoothly as if on a hinge. The first eighteen years of his life had been given to pursuit of the arts, because it was discovered that he had a talent for drawing as soon as he was old enough to hold a pencil. But at age eighteen, he departed from the arts and pursued theology, believing that he should live a life of service to others rather than the pursuit of beauty.

When he translated the Ephesians passage, he discovered that the word rendered “workmanship” was poiēma, from which we take our word “poem.” We are God’s poem, he mused. Pursuing the Greek construction, he discovered to his amazement that “poem” is better translated “work of art.” We are God’s work of art. The text urges that we are God’s work of art, and we have been created for the purpose of quality work, and God determined beforehand that we should pursue that work.

The goals of pastoral ministry evaporated like the fresh dew on a summer morning as the young man suddenly determined that his natural, inborn talent lay in making art. During this Sunday morning walk, his mind was flooded with ideas and questions revolving around how he could merge his inborn artistic gift with the recent years of theological scholarship.

Mass would be starting in about ten minutes. He decided he would continue to pursue his own worship as he sauntered around the sleepy town. A rich Sunday morning was dawning.

. . . . .

I have begun work on the next installment of my Turvey’s Corner 63050 series. The actual setting above is a view of The Redlands Hotel (The Gallery at Redlands is on the first floor just inside the entrance shown). Across the street is the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church that I have already painted four times. I have decided to include this city block in my fictional Turvey’s Corner series, and with it I am introducing a new character. The above story is a first draft that I hope to polish considerably over time.

Thunderstorms are pounding east Texas as I write this, and the Palestine skies are extremely dark and heavy. I stepped out once to run an errand and regretted it as I got soaked to the skin. This is a perfect day for staying inside to paint and read.

I am also very proud to announce that a dear friend and artist/colleague I have known for over twenty years, Cindy Thomas, has decided to make a video documentary of my work. The Turvey’s Corner 63050 series will be included in the presentation, and we will be filming from my home studio, our Gallery at Redlands, and the remote country store location in east Texas where I escape from time to time to work on my art. This will be a long-term project, and we shall keep you posted as it progresses.

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One Happy Cluster of Athletes!

For days I have debated over whether or not to include this in my blog. I try to present myself as artist, thinker, writer, etc., but I feel compelled now to reveal that I am a St. Louis native, and that the St. Louis Blues became a franchise fifty-two years ago, when I was a high school freshman. I watched them enter the Stanley Cup Finals their first three seasons in existence and not win a single game–swept all three times, Then, for forty-nine more seasons they seemed to be a team built for the playoffs but not a championship. They made the playoffs twenty-five consecutive seasons, only to be eliminated in the first or second round. But every year I continued to watch, and believe.

On January 3 this year, midway through the season, the Blues were dead last in the NHL–anchored solidly in thirty-first place. Their coach had been fired and an assistant coach promoted as interim head coach. After January 3, they began to win. They made the playoffs as the third seed in their division. And then they began the four rounds of playoffs, each one a best-of-seven series. Sixteen wins were required to bring a Stanley Cup to their city for the first time in their fifty-two year history.

What I watched this time was the most amazing playoff series in my entire life. From my perspective, the Blues were less skilled than all four opponents they faced–Winnepeg, Dallas, San Jose and Boston. In every matchup, the Blues were slower and possessed fewer quality goal scorers. Some of their losses were the most humiliating lop-sided blow-outs on the scoreboard. Yet they proved resilient, almost never losing two consecutive games. After every loss, they regrouped and returned, eliminating Winnipeg in six games, Dallas in seven, San Jose in six, and ultimately Boston in seven. In every best-of-seven series, the Blues played hard-nosed, blue-collar style hockey, their MVP and leading scorer revealing after it was all over that he was playing with fractured ribs from the very first series.

I have enjoyed every St. Louis Cardinals World Series championship. And I felt something special when the St. Louis Rams won the Super Bowl (but that team, especially its owner, can rot in hell now, as far as I am concerned). What I am feeling this morning with this St. Louis Blues championship I will never be able to describe. Fifty-two years the city languished as the team pushed for that accomplishment. And now they raise the Cup. And though several days have passed since that historic night, I am still vibrating from the memories.

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.

. . . and the Blues are the Stanley Cup Champions!!!!!

 

Jerry’s Texaco

June 9, 2019

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Jerry’s Texaco

Over-worked and under-rested, the aging men of Turvey’s Corner began their early-morning drive to St. Louis, twenty-seven miles east on Highway 30. Around the first bend of the highway out of town, they found a welcoming stop at Jerry’s Texaco. The bell cables clanged as the sedans rolled up to the gas pumps, and Steve, the young attendant, pushed aside his college books to hustle out and service the vehicles. The aroma of coffee brewing inside usually lured the men out of their cars and inside for caffeine stimulation and the exchange of local news stories. Visits here always seemed to make the workday go a little better.

Six Subjects in Search of a Painter

Six Subjects in Search of a Painter

Steve was up late again, bedding down in the storeroom of the old filling station.  He had closed the place at dusk after the last of the Turvey’s Corner work force drifted in and out, their work in the city done for another day. Steve himself could have called it a day but was too engrossed in his college studies to pack up the books and head for his garage apartment in the next county. So, with the owner’s permission, he would spend another night in the back storeroom where he kept his cot, amidst the smells of gasoline, oil, pit grease and the grime that had built up over two generations. The Texaco station was anchored on the first bend of the highway out of Turvey’s Corner. Interstate commerce had all but obliterated this sleepy town, and as soon as this young man graduated from the community college, he would depart as well. The local townspeople and patrons had no knowledge or regard for the things that stirred the soul of Steve. In their eyes, his purpose in life was to pump the gas, check the oil and keep the coffee pouring. But beyond the daily work of the station, Steve’s volumes of Thoreau, Frost, Whitman and Twain had opened to him worlds beyond this community. And his few camping possessions stored in this back room (Griswold frying pan, stove top percolator, kerosene lantern, Maxwell House tin) were the tether that kept him bound to the wild. He would be packing up his gear in a week and leaving without notice. It was time to emerge from this cocoon and embrace the world that was calling out to him.

. . . . .

Unable to sleep tonight, I decided to write a piece to go with my recent gas station painting, then revise the earlier segment I had written to accompany the still life painting. I’m in the mood tonight to put some more pieces in place for my Turvey’s Corner series.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog, reminding myself I am never alone.