Posts Tagged ‘cafe’

Warmth from the Parisian Cafe

January 24, 2015

Friday Night

Friday Night

“I was never interested in their pessimism, or editorializing.  You have to have time to feel sorry for yourself if you’re going to be a good abstract expressionist.  And I think I always considered that a waste.”

Robert Rauschenberg, Pop Artist, commenting on the Abstract Expressionist painters preceding him

Hello. It is Friday night, and the Texas temperatures outside this cold, wet night are hanging around thirty-five degrees. Finishing an arduous week of school, I now enjoy my payoff—a weekend without appointments. The coffee is poured, and as I think over the satisfaction of my Philosophy class today during their Socratic dialogue and subsequent Presocratics research, I am filled with a state of eudaimonia. Already I’ve enjoyed an evening of books and playing my guitars. Now I’m taking careful notes from a DVD, “Painters Painting.” I feel the company of these artists who flourished in New York City from the 1940s to the 1970s, and am enjoying what I’m hearing.

I posted the Rauschenberg quote above, because I’m laughing at the silly self-absorbed notion of an American artist brooding in his studio, alone, on a cold winter Friday night. I am personally annoyed when I read a blog, or hear an original song performed at an open mike that focuses on the depression and alienation experienced by its creator. Having said that, I have always tried to avoid publishing brooding, self-obsessed, navel-gazing, self-pitying blog posts. I think I am honest when I say that I appreciate life as a Gift, with its multitude of opportunities to explore, and its countless avenues for growth.

Per the title I’ve posted, I feel a genuine warmth over friends I’ve had the privilege of meeting in person and online the past couple of weeks, and feel (finally) that I am settling into a lifestyle comparable to what was experienced in the Parisian cafes from the 1920’s onward, where people from diverse walks of life met to discuss their creative observations, work on new art forms, and draw encouragement from one another. I had always wanted this to happen in schools where I have taught throughout the years, but it just hasn’t for reasons I don’t really care to explore tonight.  I’m just glad to be aware now of people all around and accessible who have that same thirst for conversation and exchange of perspectives. Though I have a weekend stretching before me that is virtually empty of appointments, it just feels good to know that I can reach out in a multitude of directions and draw energy from others. We truly live in a remarkable age where we can connect online and communicate without that annoying cost of long-distance telephone charges, or waiting on the postal service to deliver our stamped mail. One can be alone physically, but accompanied and enriched spiritually by the presence of conversation from kindred spirits through a multitude of avenues not available twenty years ago.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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Sometimes Wyeth; Sometimes Picasso

November 19, 2014
Looking for the Balance

Looking for the Balance

You can waste an awful lot of time farting around for great occasions.  Pete and Henriette carried on the social game . . .all the artists I’ve ever known did it, except maybe Edward Hopper.

Andrew Wyeth

Please don’t interpret tonight’s post as a complaint–it isn’t.  Over the past decades, I have sought this indefinable center between the public and private side of an artful life.  I love living after the examples of the Thoreaus, the Hoppers and the Wyeths of the art and literary world, one steeped in creative solitude and contemplation.  Winters are especially wonderful for that (especially now that my furnace is repaired, after six days of frigid living!).  But I also ache for that creative collaboration among kindred spirits.  I love the cafes, the salons, the gatherings of inquisitive minds who feed off one another’s inspirations.  Tonight I am headed for the latter, a monthly salon gathering that I enjoy to the depths.  What I wish is that I could return to my studio and work on some art pieces after the meeting, because a number of ideas have been percolating with me over the past several days and I just cannot seem to catch a break to pursue them in solitude.  Part of my teaching load this semester is an online college course and tonight I have promised myself that all assignments submitted over this past week will be graded before I retire to bed–the students deserve that.  And so, perhaps tomorrow I will get back into the studio.  Tonight I can only salute those artists that managed to balance their solitude with their society. I am just as much charmed by Thoreau’s Walden cabin as I am Picasso’s Parisian Cafe Gerbois.  The former looked into the face of nature and drew unlimited resources; the latter listened to the poets, artists and philosophers in the cafe around him and transformed their ideas into art.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never alone.

Watercoloring the Hot Summer Town of Hico, Texas en Plein Air

June 29, 2011

A Hot Summer Afternoon in Hico, Texas

After the morning plein air excursion into Granbury, I next turned my Jeep further south, and arrived in Hico, Texas as the sun waxed hotter.  What a fabulous town for painting!  Ghost signs were everywhere to be found on the sides of buildings of brick and rusticated stone.  I turned down a major street, and was delighted to find it divided, with a tree-shaded island featuring park benches and gazebos.  I found plenty of space to set up my easel on the island, without blocking sidewalk traffic (not that there was much, in that small town!).  As I painted, I found the residents of Hico to be exceedingly friendly.  A number of men and women approached me, looked at my work, said affirming things, and chatted with me about life in the small town, and also asked how things were in my large city, and I found it pleasing to cover a number of conversational subjects with them, all of the talk pleasant.  I even had the pleasure of meeting an acrylic studio painter who owned a business on the street where I painted.  A lady in a passing car rolled down her window, took a look at my work, and expressed admiration for my attempt at architecture.  She was a painter of animals and thought it would be difficult to paint buildings.  I guess I should have mentioned to her that I find it difficult, painting animals!

I loved this street intersection vista.  The light rusticated stone building contrasted nicely with the darker buildings across the street on the left, and I was fascinated with the tree on the right invading the compositional space.  I took a reference photo of this site and am seriously considering taking another shot at this in the studio.

The day was hot, the travel exhausting, but I’m glad I got out and did this.   Last night I looked at the website of the Weiler House Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#events) and saw that my Solo Show for this fall has been posted.  My first reaction was that it was time to “find another gear” in producing art work.  Showtime is in two months.

Thanks for reading.

Lazy Afternoon at Zula’s Coffee House. Last Day of Waxahachie Plein Air Competition

June 2, 2011

Lazy Afternoon at Zula's Coffee House, Waxahachie, Texas

Today marks the end of the plein air competition in Waxahachie (for me).  The deadline for entering work is tomorrow (Friday) at 2:00, and I will be stuck in school for the entire day.  The last week of public school is a total waste of time and resources, if I may offer my frank opinion.  Prime time every day this week has been spent in a high school where everyone–student and teacher alike–has already mailed it in.   I’m happy that I managed to crank out seven paintings since last Friday–six of them between Friday and Monday, and then the past three days on this one (again, prime time spent in school, and left-over, late-afternoon time, painting).

Zula’s Coffee House is my favorite place to land when I’m in Waxahachie, Texas.  Terra, the proprietor, has this way of making any patron comfortable and grateful for setting up in this coffee haven, any time day or night.  It has become a popular venue for folk singing, book discussions and various other small group activities.  Wi-Fi makes it a great place to work on the laptop when deadlines are pressing.  The coffee house is located on Business Highway 287, on the north side of downtown Waxahachie (Main Street).  It is far enough away from the town square to escape the traffic noises of midday, and has a life of its own (which the town square lacks after 5:00 p.m.).  The open meadow across the street provides plenty of space for anyone with an active eye and a dreamy imagination.  During the fall of last year, I painted the meadow in all the bright colors that the late afternoon sun yielded.  Again, this is a sweet spot to land for anyone who is a lover of art, books, music and of course, coffee!

Thanks Terra for a very rewarding three days.  I’m glad I finally got around to painting this splendid venue.

Thanks for reading.

Ghosts of Eureka Springs Past

March 13, 2011

Ghosts of Eureka Springs PastI just got my painting framed at the Weiler House Gallery (http://weilerhousefineart.com) and will soon deliver it to the Eureka Springs School of the Arts for their first faculty art show.  I haven’t seen the town since I left it last June, when I was privileged to teach a one-week plein air watercolor class to an outstanding group of painters.

I’m glad the painting is finally framed, and that I am at the beginning of a one-week Spring Break from school.  Already I’m in the garage planing out my next composition, and hopefully will have it posted soon.

Thank you 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.

A Route 66 Christmas Odyssey Requires a 1940’s Diner

March 5, 2011

Spencer’s Grill, Kirkwood Missouri, est. 1947

The good news today was that the aunts are going to be just fine.  After only 4 1/2 hours sleep last night, I decided I needed to nap this afternoon if I had any hopes of finishing this painting today.  I’m glad I did.  Sleeping from 2:00 until 4:00, I rose and resumed work on this in the garage (my Man-Cave!) with a beautiful afternoon Texas sun shining in the open door.  The light was exquisite for working on this painting.  Once it got dark, the winter temperatures plummeted, and I was forced to lower the door and continue work under house lights (I hate that!).   But . . . I did not want to tinker with this another day.  So . . . here it is . . . signed and out of my hands!

Tomorrow I plan to take it to the Weiler House Fine Arts Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I already have my next watercolor composition lined up, and I just may get after it tonight–I’m in the mood.

I’m grateful for the companionship I felt from the Voices and Visions video documentaries of Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams.  What fabulous poets!  What vision!  I felt a particular connection to them as they painted the American scene in penetrating words, as I hope to do some day with watercolor.  Both men were driven by wanderlust as they traversed the American landscape, both urban and rural.  And though I don’t look at the TV while painting, I could certainly see these poets’ images in my mind’s eye as I continually sought to refine my own.  I still hear Williams’ voice in my conscience: “No ideas but in things!”

Thanks for reading.  Hope you enjoy this one.

Route 66–Odyssey of the American Mind

March 4, 2011

Spencer's Grill on Route 66

At last, the weekend!  Immediately after school, I had a nice visit with my gallery director, Bill Ryan, at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery (http://www.weilerhousefineart.com/#home).  I dropped off my large Eureka Springs cafe painting for framing.  Then, I dashed over to Texas Wesleyan University (my night job!) to retrieve some materials from the library.  In my garage studio, I’ve enjoyed immensely the Voices and Visions series of video documentaries on American poets.  Over the past week, I’ve listened to T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and today am listening to Walt Whitman.  I also picked up the Autobiography of William Carlos Williams, two volumes of his poetry, and the Cantos of Ezra Pound.  I have before me a weekend of books and painting!

If you’ve been following my blog, you will see that I have sketched in the pavement along the bottom of the composition, using a series of washes along with plenty of salt and water-soluble graphite pencil work.  I’m now waiting for all of that to dry so I can get back to work on the cars and the newspaper vending machines along the front side of this diner.  I fully intend to finish this piece over the weekend.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll get back to you soon.

Christmas Cheer and Nostalgia at Spencer’s Grill in Kirkwood, Missouri

March 1, 2011

Christmas at Spencers Grill

Though it’s been two months since I left St. Louis, my heart still stirs at the memory of a bright winter morning at Spencer’s Grill in Kirkwood, Missouri along historic Route 66.  My wife and I had just ducked inside this historic cafe from the late 1940’s for breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, scrapple and coffee.  This historic sign at Spencer’s Grill I had seen since my pre-literate childhood, and will always remember, Proust-like, as a monument from my remote past.

Recently I’ve been reading plenty of Ezra Pound, and studying his tragic life.  From his poem “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” I found these lines:

All things are aflowing,

Sage Heracleitus says;

But a tawdry cheapness

Shall outlast our days.

For over a decade, I’ve been fascinated with the Presocratic fragments, particularly the pieces from Heraclitus.   I mused over this phenomena of traffic perennially rushing north-south on Kirkwood Road, while the ageless, changeless Spencer’s Grill remains.  With my company Recollections 54 (www.recollections54.com) I try to capture in watercolor the images of an America from the 1950’s that remains in spite of the changes that nearly sweep the ground out from under us as we live out our fast-paced, deadline-driven lives.

Thanks for reading.