Posts Tagged ‘recollections 54’

Pre-Dawn Stirrings

November 26, 2022

My work is like a diary.

Pablo Picasso

Waking in the darkness at 3:55 this morning with the sound of rain pounding on my second story bedroom hotel window, I was surprised to find that my mind would not go back to sleep. Over the past two-and-a-half hours I have enjoyed the luxury of showering, dressing, brewing coffee, and sitting at the dining room table over books and journal.

I am now four hundred pages into volume three of John Richardson’s projected five-volume biography on Pablo Picasso. Volume four lies at the ready before me as well. This reading odyssey began May 14, 1992 when my Humanities class at Arlington Lamar High School surprised me with the gift of volume one that had just come out a few months earlier. Before resuming my reading in volume three this morning, I read every autograph inside the opening pages of the first volume, and was once again warmed by the love and affection of that special Spring ’92 class as the school year was drawing to its end. Thanks to Facebook, I’m still in contact with some of those students. I cannot think of any profession outside of teaching that could have filled me with more warm memories than the ones created by students who genuinely respected each other and their instructor. If there is a heaven, I hope I could embrace all those souls again.

John Richardson has given us a priceless gift, and I only hope he would be allowed to live long enough to finish this magnificent task. I faithfully read the first two volumes as quickly as they came off the press. Volume three stalled at the halfway point, but now that I have purchased the fourth one, I’m committed to finishing both these works as well. And then I’ll hope the final one comes out. I’ve been immersed in the biographies of the Wyeths, Edward Hopper, Robert Motherwell and Andy Warhol. But I’ve never been afforded the luxury of ploughing through more than a thousand pages of one so complex as Picasso. Until now.

The rain is intensifying outside and the forecast calls for more of the same throughout the day. This could mean a long day of solitude in the gallery if the foul weather keeps people in their homes. And that is a good thing. Yesterday was a spectacular day of sales in the gallery, so if no one comes in throughout this day or night, it only means I could accomplish the many, many tasks that began surging through my waking mind hours ago. Creative eros makes me grateful to be alive, well, and filled with energy.

If I don’t write more later, then let me thank you now for giving me this part of your day.

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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New Work in The Gallery at Redlands

November 18, 2022

The art of Amanda Hukill, new cover artist for The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery magazine and new artist for The Gallery at Redlands is now displayed in our gallery’s lobby window.

Local artist Cecilia Bramhall has been busy with new oil paintings and has brought in those along with her new holiday themes.

The Gallery at Redlands welcomes new artist Steve Miller from Grand Prairie, Texas. His oils have been a favorite of mine for over a decade and I’m glad he’s finally in our family.

We have difficulty keeping Arlington potter Paula Cadle’s work in stock! Here are some of her latest editions to our gallery display.

Though traveling Europe, Elkhart artist Grace Hessman manages to remain prolific in her pastel output. These pieces have just arrived in the gallery.

Local artist Kathy Lamb demonstrates the perpetual artist by continually creating new oil paintings in her Nickel Manor studio down the street. We’re proud that she chooses to hang her work here as well.

The Polar Express season opened yesterday in Palestine, and I will be getting out my train themed work for the gallery as well. We have plenty of new art on display now and would love to see you when you have time to stop by.

Tribute to the Creatives

November 17, 2022

Good morning, friends of the blog. I’m releasing something I’ve been writing in my head for some days now. I still have plenty of editing to do, but have decided to go ahead and release the raw draft to let you know what I’ve been thinking and feeling of late. These memories are a comfort. I am aware that “nostalgia” comes from a Greek word that combines the sensations of pain and presence in memory. So maybe I could call this a nostalgic piece.

Tribute to the Creatives

Paint is not the only thing flowing out of the brush and onto the paper.

Every stroke releases years of tears, fatigue, anxieties and growing pains. Every stoke reveals the curiosity, study, questions and growth of time.

The sculptor at the forge pounds, bends and shapes the steel from the stress and the heat of his own arduous journey of maturing.

The finished work glows with the essence of his chiseled years and glistens under his sweat and tears.

With every stroke of the writer’s pen, a torrent of letters is released. Words. Paragraphs. Pages. Chapters. Narrated by self-doubts, rebellions, questions, studies.

You gaze upon the finished product in the gallery, the museum, the library, unaware of the wear and tear, the Sturm and Drang, the stretch, the crush, the impact that dented, chiseled and re-shaped the creator’s life.

You’re unaware of the wreckage strewn in its wake, the debris scattered from every uninvited collision. Heat searing from the series of frictions. The work of art stands mute as you gaze, glance, or merely pass by.

The work stands a stoic witness to the tragedies and depressions

Smells of rain-soaked alleys during nightly drunken walks. Paint-peeled, dingy apartment rooms with their frayed and stained carpets, streaked windows, and sounds of dripping faucets throughout the night, the running toilet that greets the morning.

The swish of traffic outside the window, splashing down rain-soaked city streets.

Stale cigarette smoke mingles with the scent of stale urine in the alley shortcut on the way to class.

Coughing and sniffing in the libraries.

A graduate student weeping softly over a graded term paper.

Another furiously scribbling with pencil on notecards. Books stacked around with three more opened and spread before him.

The giant wall clock ticks away time. Eliding time. Disappearing time. Time that always takes and never gives.

With monk-like devotion, artists, writers, scholars and musicians work away the hours in their cells, studies, studios, libraries, coffee shops and bars. In worshipful service they bow before the altars of their craft. They believe. They anticipate. But mostly, they work.

One stroke after another.

One crumpled page after another.

One hammer blow after another.

One plucked string after another.

One struck key after another.

And the words, the ideas, the visitations continue.

New Limited Edition Print Coming to Gallery at Redlands

November 17, 2022

Signing the new limited edition giclee prints

Palestine Blues, now available in limited editions. $100 unframed

Good morning. I’m proud to announce that I have signed my first seven copies of a limited edition series of Palestine Blues. The original hangs framed behind my desk in The Gallery at Redlands, but has already sold. The limited editions are a little smaller, but look great in color and sharpness. I’ll be placing them in the gallery later today (Thursday) after we arrive for another weekend of activity.

Thanks for reading.

Re-Living the Wonders of the Magazine Launch Party

November 11, 2022

Palestine Blues, 24 x 39″ framed. Sold

Snow Rhapsody. 20 x 24″ framed. $400

Beginnings of a new commission (using photo of my earlier watercolor for the model, as requested)

“Mitcha, why aren’t you home painting?”

Hans Hofmann chiding Joan Mitchell for walking her dog in Washington Square Park.

I could have been the target for such a barb this past week. It feels good on this chilly, darkened and frigid rainy morning to sit at the drafting table in The Gallery at Redlands and finally get down to the business of working on a promised commission. But as I work, the Wednesday night magazine launch party at The Redlands still floods my heart with joy and gratitude. Here are some photos that Dave Shultz took at the event:

Unveiling of Amanda Hukill’s, new cover art for volume 8. Photo by Dave Shultz

The proud moment came when publisher Gloria Hood lifted the veil to reveal the cover of the new edition of The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery magazine. Newly selected cover artist Amanda Hukill has just been added to the selection of artists at The Gallery at Redlands, and her work now adorns our lobby window display.

Magazine feature artist Amanda Hukill, now displaying at Gallery at Redlands

New look at the Gallery through the lobby window

A few changes in the street-side window as well

Artist and Publisher Gloria Hood addressing the party about the new edition. Photo by Dave Shultz

Diane Reis, President of the Tyler Palette of Roses art organization, speaks to the audience. Photo by Dave Shultz

Praise and encouragement from Neita Fran Ward, Executive Producer and Host of the Art Connection of East Texas. Photo by Dave Shultz

The event morphed into an autograph party as artists and sponsors autographed their ads by request. We had fun laughing and comparing the moment to high school seniors signing their yearbooks.

I chose to share a piece of writing I composed for this special occasion. The text is below:

Byzantium Emerging[1]

Sixth-century Byzantium emerged a center for the

arts.

Mid-twentieth century Manhattan caught the same

fever.

Critics called New York City the New Byzantium.

Twenty-first-century East Texas feels the creative

muse.

Artists, musicians, and writers adjust their sails to  

catch the winds

As together, we sail toward the New Byzantium.

Palestine emerged with the railroad.

Railroads connected communities yesterday.

Art connects our communities today.

Brace yourself.

The creative winds are bringing us together.


[1] William Butler Yeats said the following about his poem “Sailing to Byzantium”—“I think if I could be given a month of Antiquity and leave to spend it where I chose, I would spend it in Byzantium a little before Justinian opened St. Sophia and closed the Academy of Plato. . . . I think that in early Byzantium, maybe never before or since in recorded history, religious, aesthetic and practical life were one, that architect and artificers spoke to the multitude and the few alike. The painter, the mosaic worker, the worker in gold and silver, the illuminator of sacred books, were almost impersonal, almost perhaps without the consciousness of individual design, absorbed in their subject-matter and that the vision of a whole people.”

We have been saying it around here for some time now–something special is in the air, and the creatives of East Texas are enjoying this resurgence in the arts. Tomorrow morning, Sandi and I travel to Tyler, Texas to participate in their first ever art festival. We’ll be with Neita Fran Ward in the Art Connection of East Texas booth.

And then, tomorrow night we will travel to Cleburne, Texas to attend the artist’s reception at the Stone Trough Winery. I have work hanging in that show as well, and look forward to bonding with some artists I haven’t seen in awhile. Publisher Gloria will be bringing out the new edition of the magazine to share with attendees there as well.

Dave Shultz has also created a new feature video to play on the Gallery TV

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.

Another Late One in Studio Eidolons

November 2, 2022

It is closing time in the gardens of the West and from now on an artist will be judged only by the resonance of his solitude or the quality of his despair.

Cyril Connolly, Horizon, Dec. ’49-Jan ’50

One week before our magazine launch party at The Gallery at Redlands, Sandi and I find ourselves in the midst of yet another late night, working on promoting the event. We’re proud that we’ve been chosen a second time to launch The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery magazine. Volume 8 will be brought out next Wednesday. Our party will last 4-8:00 and we’re excited at the growing number of interested participants that have notified us.

Our new cover artist is Amanda Hukill of Palestine. We’re happy that she is joining our assembly of artists in the gallery, and we’re currently working on a display of her work in our lobby window. We also welcome oil painter Steve Miller of Grand Prairie, Texas. We will be hanging three of his pieces in our collection this weekend, and party goers will have the pleasure of meeting him at the event.

We’re extremely proud that Art Connection of East Texas, under the capable guidance of Executive Producer Neita Fran Ward, has joined in on this publication effort. Their spread of pages in the magazine are exquisitely produced. A contingent of their artists will be setting up an exhibit in the lobby of our Redlands Hotel, serving as an extension of what The Gallery at Redlands has on display. The city of Tyler, Texas and its Palette of Roses possesses a body of over a hundred visual artists. Palestine is enriched to make the acquaintance of these creatives, and looks forward to working together with them as we continue this New Byzantium theme promoting East Texas as a burgeoning art community.

We just now received the digital link so we could view online the entire magazine. I’m sorry I cannot post this, since the issue won’t come out till next week’s launch. But our excitement knew no bounds as we perused every page of this beautiful publication.

Cowboy coffee has been brewed and poured into my bison mug as we continue into the early morning hours, trying to finish up details for next week’s event.

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.

Making Headway on the Palestine Blues Watercolor

October 22, 2022

The ghost of Lightnin’ Hopkins moving through Palestine

People have learned how to strum a guitar, but they don’t have the soul. They don’t feel it from the heart. It hurts me. I’m killin’ myself to tell them how it is.

Lightnin’ Hopkins

The Hot Pepper Festival has drawn to a close. Vendors are packing up their tents and merchandise. The streets are clearing. And I’m getting weary of painting, having bent over the drafting table and picked at this watercolor for the most part of nine hours. I’m happy with the amount of work that got accomplished today, and believe I’ll now spend the rest of the evening reading. The Gallery at Redlands will stay open another three hours.

Dear friends of mine who looked at the painting in progress this afternoon noticed the transparency of my blues man walking along the tracks. I inserted him after I had drafted the store behind him, and the lines of masonry are still visible through his clothing. Lisa liked the idea of the ghost sign being in the same frame as the ghost blues man. I had not thought of that! Lightnin’ Hopkins played in a juke joint in Crockett, Texas, thirty miles down the highway from here. A life-size bronze statue has been installed in the park across the street from the Camp Street Care & Store that used to be the joint. So I’m naming this solitary traveling musician Lightnin’ Hopkins.

Thanks for reading.

Hot Pepper Festival in Palestine Today

October 22, 2022
Resuming a Recent Watercolor

I have found it difficult to stop and blog today. My day began at 7:00, and as I walked the streets of Palestine, I felt that I was making my way through a Medieval village. Vendors were everywhere, setting up booths for the day. The annual Hot Pepper Festival is in full swing. The parade has already passed through, and people are everywhere. I’m enjoying the Gallery traffic. Talking to patrons and visitors is always enjoyable, especially if I’m up to my elbows in a watercolor

While passing through the booths during my morning walk, I enjoyed the scattered chatterings I overheard, reminding me of my days of setting up for an outdoor art festival. A good memory. In fact, I experienced this three weeks ago in Edom, Texas. I used to do about ten of these a year. Now I’ve cut back to two or three. I’m glad to be settled into the gallery, and plan to work on watercolors till we close tonight at 9:00

A close up of the details I’m tending on the Palestine watercolor

While working on a large piece, I enjoy moving all over the composition, sometimes detailing, sometimes laying down large washes of color, sometimes drawing and adjusting something that doesn’t seem quite right. Currently I’m working on small perimeter leaves and branches separating the bulk of the tree crowns from the sky. I call these little touches “salt and peppering” as I feel I am seasoning the work instead of basting or cooking.

I need to get back to painting. Thanks for reading.

Carnegie Library and Billowing Thoughts

October 21, 2022
View out my Redlands Hotel window. Carnegie Library undergoing ADA compliance construction

I lived the whole week in strictest seclusion in my study and under the apple tree and now have the exegesis of Romans 5 finished.

Karl Barth, letter to friend Eduard Thurneysen, Septembper 27, 1917

Friday morning finds me on the second floor of The Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas. While reading and breakfasting, I’ve been looking out the window at the Carnegie Library as a work crew labors to make it ADA compliant so it can once again become a public library. Once it re-opens, I’ll be in trouble. I can already envision patrons approaching a locked Gallery at Redlands door with a sign:

Gallery Closed. If you need me, I’m across the street in the Carnegie Library, reading.

I’ve said this before. As an artist, I am still conflicted for reading and thinking time. I’m afraid graduate school shaped me for that till the day I die. I cannot think of an appropriate epithet for myself; “Thinking Artist” carries an arrogance I find offensive. “Intellectual” isn’t much better. Listening to a YouTube lecture this morning delivered by writer Thomas Wolfe in memory of Marshall McLuhan the remark was made: “An intellectual is an expert in one field who makes a comment in another.” Good one.

O.K. Cards on the table. My doctorate is in New Testament, and I still read it in Greek. But I also love reading the Greek texts of Homer and the Presocratics. And I love literature, And philosophy. And art history. I love to write. All of this feeds my art, even if these strands are not seen in my subject matter. Ideas are the prime mover of my life, and they drive my imagination, my art and my business. Downstairs in the gallery, two watercolors in progress are waiting for me, and I’ll get down to them. But now I’ve stopped my reading long enough to send up a blog like a smoke signal. I’ll get downstairs to the watercolors in due time.

The retired life is luxurious; I had no idea how miserable I was the final five years of my full-time employment when I was chained to a Monday-through-Friday teaching post that never went away. At the end of each weekday, I carried my school work home like a mule, and I carried the load into every weekend. The fact of the matter is this–when Friday ended school for the week, I was already thinking of Monday morning. For twenty-eight years in high school, and a concurrent schedule of college adjunct responsibilities running from 1985-2022 I was never away from work, mentally. Now as a happily and fully retired man, I know what it means to be busy, but the busy happens by my choice, not an institutional schedule. And I love it.

Thirty years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson grounded my life of the mind, and though I studied scores of other thinkers throughout those years, Emerson remained my pole star. I often wondered if anyone else would ever come along and make the same claim upon my mind.

For a week now, Marshall McLuhan has held my attention like no other since Emerson. I am now reading his Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, and I am totally absorbed. I purchased the 30th anniversary edition, and the Introduction by Harper’s editor Lewis H. Lapham is brilliantly written. If McLuhan continues to hold my attention, I’ll be writing more about him once I have digested it. But for now, I feel the sensations the theologian Karl Barth described in his letter to his friend about his absorption in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. I’m currently seeking an apple tree under which I can sit and contemplate all this new wonder.

Finally moved downstairs to The Gallery at Redlands

Meanwhile, there is work to pursue in the Gallery. A pair of watercolors are whispering in my other ear. Tomorrow (Saturday), Palestine will host its annual Hot Pepper Festival. The streets downtown will be lined with booths. A parade will open the event, and thousands of people will overrun the city. We hope they’ll overrun our Gallery as well.

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.

Musings in Studio Eidolons

October 18, 2022

Instead of celebrity philosophers we have celebrity chefs, dozens of them. But they never talk about how delicious life itself could be if we followed a different recipe. That’s what McLuhan was all about, really, recognizing that the kitchen of the mind is stocked with all the best ingredients. Each of us could be in there every day, cooking up a masterpiece. Why aren’t we?

William Powers, Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

There is magic in waking to a 43 degree morning. Without an alarm I was up before daylight, made coffee, and thought I was going straight to the drafting table to pursue work on my latest project. But I opened a book and journal, and alas, ideas began savaging me. Hours later, I sit down to this blog to record some of it, then get back to work . . .

One idea leads to the next, one book to the next, etc.

I have this obsession with re-reading quality books that have fed my imagination in times past. My recent dip back into Hamlet’s Blackberry found me doing the breast stroke through the chapter featuring Marshall McLuhan. I’ve never read his books, but have decided now to take a look into The Gutenberg Galaxay and Understanding Media. The man was truly prophetic, seeing well in advance the digital age and how it would transform society. Though I hadn’t read him, his name crept into my consciousness recently during scattered chats with friends at Edom Art Festival, Hideaway Lake Art League, and creative spirits from Palestine and Greenville, Texas.

Beginnings of mapping out New Byzantium

Purchasing recently a Rand McNally road map of Texas, I spread it out on the table and began marking the towns that have recently gotten my attention with their current activities in the arts–visual, musical, performing, and literary. There is a genuine Renaissance blossoming. I have been referring to it as The New Byzantium, and intend to write more about it as these matters unfold. I am thrilled at this new vibe that is in the air, just as invigorating as the recent plunge in temperature, signaling autumn and all the excitement that comes with the approaching holiday seasons.

I’m glad to have a couple of days in my suburban home before descending back into the Palestine mix. Their annual Hot Pepper Festival is coming up this weekend, and there will be thousands of people in the downtown area. It’s time once again to roll up the sleeves and get to work on the matters at hand.

Thanks for reading.