Posts Tagged ‘Route 66’

Final Preparations for a Watercolor Class

August 23, 2020
Finishing Touches for Tomorrow’s Class

Tomorrow (Monday August 24) I’ll be teaching a watercolor class from 2-5:00. We’ll paint a Route 66 motel that was torn down years ago. A few seats are still available if any of you in the area would like to participate. For $55 I’ll supply all materials to paint an 8 x 10″ watercolor on stretched paper. The reference photo we’ll use is a painting I’ve done recently:

Ozark Court Motel, Stanton, Missouri

For anyone interested in attending, you will need to phone Gracie Lane boutique at (817) 468-5263 to reserve your seat. The class will be taught in the boutique building which also houses our Show Me the Monet art gallery, at 4720 S Cooper St, Arlington, TX 76017.

I have rewritten my story from the Turvey’s Corner manuscript that I hope will one day be a book. I’ll post the re-write below:

Sunday morning rays of sunshine lanced through the slits in the closed blinds of Room 18 at the Ozark Court Motel. Randy lay with his eyes closed. It took a few moments before he realized where he was and what day it was. Hitchhiking had not fared well the day before. Driving rains soaked him to the skin and no one was pulling over on Route 66 to offer him a ride. Why would they? No doubt he carried all the charm of a drowned city sewer rat as he trudged along the muddy shoulder, his knapsack beginning to let in water as well. But this morning he was OK. A soothing shower the night before and a Jack Daniels nightcap ushered in a quality night’s sleep. But now it was Sunday. What to do?

His Greek New Testament lay on the bedside table; he had removed it the night before, intending for it to be the first thing his eyes would see the morning after. Now he sat up in bed, stretched his limbs, and reached for the small volume he once thought he was going to discard when he dropped out of seminary. He couldn’t. Though he no longer congregated, he still woke on Sunday mornings feeling the need to reach for a text that had been his companion for two-and-a-half years, only now he no longer felt shackled by deadlines of term papers and Sunday morning sermon manuscripts. He could read what he chose.

But what to read? The Gospels crossed his mind. Always a good choice. But what did he want this morning from the Gospels? Did he want to see or hear? Seeing would include mental images of Jesus walking along a shore or down a dusty Palestinian street. Would he be solitary, seated in the wilderness, or thronged by a clinging crowd? Or did Randy just wish to hear as he translated the texts this morning? What would he hear? The voice of Jesus resonating in a synagogue, or speaking softly inside living quarters? Would he be strolling country lanes with disciples listening, or seated on a boulder discoursing? Or would he be sitting in a boat, his calm voice going out over the water while disciples pulled at the oars?

Why was Randy reaching for the New Testament, anyway? Because it was Sunday? He wasn’t congregating. He wasn’t called upon to address any hearers. So what exactly did he want this morning?

Outside the motel, traffic was heard murmuring along Route 66 below the bluff. Randy was aware that he was seated in bed, alone, in the heartland of America. Today is Sunday, the Fourth of July, 1976. The country had been surging with anticipation for weeks as she edged closer and closer to this day—the nation’s bicentennial. No doubt Randy’s former seminary friends—preacher friends—had been wrenching themselves into a frenzy over what to preach on this Special Sunday. Randy breathed serenely, no longer trapped in that vise of psychological pressure. Still he wondered. What exactly would he have said today, standing before a congregation?

Opening his small volume, he read at leisure, allowing his mind to drift down pleasant corridors of memory as naturally as a canoe in a gentle stream. To this day he was thankful to have learned Koinē Greek. He recalled that first semester of structured recitation, vocabulary, and functional grammar. It was forbidden to purchase and attempt to read a Greek New Testament; the objective for the first semester was functional literacy. As children learn to speak their language before learning to read and understand the technical architecture of grammar, so the Professor endeavored to train his students to recognize Greek early and dissect the grammar later. And so, Randy studied his lessons and performed the daily recitations for a semester.

On the first day of the second semester, the Professor entered the lecture hall without a word, set his books on his desk, turned to the blackboard, picked up the chalk, and scrawled the following:

Sitting at his desk in the third row, Randy leaned forward earnestly and stared at the words. As if scales had fallen from his eyes, he recognized and read the words instantly: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.” The Professor turned to the class fixing his eyes on their faces, and solemnly declared: “You are now reading the New Testament. In Greek.” Sitting up in bed, Randy felt waves of warmth surging through his being as he recalled that historic morning. He was certain that he was re-living the spirit of the eighteenth-century Age of Enlightenment, Die Aufklärung. Life for him had been marked by so few quality moments. Opening his New Testament to Mark 1:15, he read the words afresh.

The time is fulfilled. On that historic day, years ago, Randy felt he had fulfilled his apprenticeship to elementary Greek vocabulary and grammar. He read a Greek New Testament passage with no assistance from a teacher or book. It was a new day. A new world dawned and beckoned. He had no idea then that a ministerial life, just underway, would collapse and burn in less than two years.

Now it is Sunday, July 4, 1976. The nation celebrates its 200th birthday. Randy wondered what exactly he was celebrating, if anything. What was life offering now? Was he about to pass through another portal? Again, why was he reading the New Testament? Because it was Sunday? Because it was the Fourth of July? Because the country was now two hundred years old? What was in the air for Randy? He wanted to know.

Was he reading from the life of Jesus because he needed a mentor? Someone to guide him? Thinking back over his life, Randy realized he had always sought direction from a strong leader. His father, his pastor, his professors, and a few years ago that conference with Reverend Elton in Dallas. Did Randy need a mentor now? Or was it time to think for himself? Maybe his apprenticeship to life was ended and it was time to stand up, to strike forth and find new ground under his own direction. The time is fulfilled.

Rising from bed, Randy stretched and strolled across the small room to the writing table in the corner where he had placed his journal from the night before. Opening it to the pages he wrote the day he quit the seminary, he found a passage he had copied from James Smart’s The Divided Mind of Modern Theology:

There are remarkable parallels between the European mood of the twenties and the English and American mood of the sixties: God seemed to have gone into hiding; religious and theological language out of the past had become wooden and unconvincing; men felt themselves suspended between a world that had died and a new world that was waiting to be born; a church indifferent to the plight of the masses was recognized as unworthy of the name Christian; the identification of Christianity with Western civilization, and of divinity with the higher elements in man, had become highly suspect; in various forms the hunger for a new world now was felt, and some understood it as hunger for a living God. In that kind of world Barth and Bultmann became theologians whose one endeavor was to find the word that would unlock the future, the word that would bring wholeness of faith and creative power by being the very truth of the living God.

It is Sunday, Randy thought. Today, churches would perhaps fill to capacity to celebrate a 200th birthday. Yet, Randy sensed that the ministers would still crank out those same tired sermons, their singsong voices rasping like rusty squeeze boxes, sounding out the same two-note refrain of the deadly forces that continually threaten the vitality of our church and nation—abortion and communism.

Randy replayed from memory a line he had memorized from his reading of one of Nietzsche’s early essays:

He who has but two strings on his instrument . . . does not understand those who can play on more strings. It is of the essence of the higher, multi-stringed culture that it is always misinterpreted by the lower culture . . .

Randy’s recent sojourn had undoubtedly added more strings to his life’s instrument. No doubt this was the reason he was not attending church this auspicious morning or any morning for that matter. Virtually everything delivered from pulpits he had heard before. Indeed, he was beginning to write out such tired words in his own sermons before he quit.

Randy recalled with a smile a quote he had read from his readings in the religions of India, how the Upanishad movement was sprung partly because the general population had grown weary of listening to the traditional chants of the Vedic priests “who sounded like croaking frogs in the swamps.” America in 1976 was sounding restless. Perhaps a new world was beginning to dawn. The time is fulfilled. Randy wondered if his own odyssey was corresponding with the quest of this American nation in 1976, poised to enter a new Age of Enlightenment. Where was Hank? It had been months since that night they sat at the fire, camping in west Texas. It was time to get together and talk some more. No doubt Hank had just as much weighing on his mind as Randy.

Turvey’s Corner was only thirty-five miles away. Randy had hoped to reach home yesterday, but the nasty rains hindered his ability to hitchhike with any consistency. The sight of the Ozark Court Motel and thought of a hot shower convinced him to stay at least one night here. Feeling refreshed and rejuvenated this morning, he decided he would step into the sunshine on this Independence Day and head back to his hometown. Perhaps Hank was already there.

_________________________________________

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.

Evening Ponderings over Motherwell Art

July 2, 2020
Time spent reading Motherwell biographies

As always, the studio was the space of revelation. For all his sociability and engagement with the public world, he admitted on several occasions that he felt essentially awkward outside the studio and only comfortable inside its solitude, that his real discoveries were made in direct contact with his materials.

Bernard Jacobson, Robert Motherwell: The Making of an American Giant

Having wrapped up another commission, it felt good today to relax, stretch and spend some time poring over a pair of Robert Motherwell biographies I purchased on the centennial year of his birth. I read both of them within weeks of their publication, but then put them on the shelf for five years. Those who know me are aware that I spend much of my leisure reading biographies on artists I’ve admired throughout my life–Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, Paul Cezanne, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Henri Matisse, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol et al.

Motherwell and Hopper are especially dear to my heart because they were profound thinkers, always adjusting their compasses to pursue the direction they felt compelled to follow. Both were needled by friends and associates that they spent too much time in books. Motherwell especially was criticized for devoting too much time to writing, publishing and lecturing. I am grateful that they left behind a considerable sum of pages of their ideas; I am just as immersed in their words as I am their images. As an artist, I have always aspired to be a thinker as well as craftsman.

Completed Commission

My main purpose in posting this blog is to show the commission I just completed today. This Ozark Court Motel no longer stands. Since 1977, I saw this motel ruin on the north side of Interstate 44 (historic Route 66) in Stanton, Missouri as I traveled back and forth from Missouri to Texas. All I know so far is that the business dated back to the 1930’s. Hopefully in the days ahead I will be able to uncover more history of the site and attempt to spin out some stories. Hank and Randy need some new adventures.

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.

Nostalgic New Mexico Road House Watercolor

May 15, 2011

New Mexico Road House

The Weiler House just framed this watercolor for me, in preparation for the One-Man Show this fall.  See http://www.weilerhousefineart.com for the gallery’s website.  I saw this abandoned road house several years ago while traveling New Mexico during the late summer.  I painted it once before, putting railroad tracks in the foreground.  This time I thought I would let the “Mother Road” roll past the front.  I seem to recall that this collection of buildings was near historic route 66.

Thanks for reading.

Memory Lane: Trautwein’s Red Goose Shoes on Gravois, St. Louis, Missouri

March 29, 2011

Trautweins Red Goose Shoes, 5227 Gravois, St. Louis

After two consecutive mornings of rising at 4:30 in order to devote one hour to watercoloring, I’m finally getting some projects finished, though my eyes are burning intolerably right now.  Today I finished my diptych of the 8 x 10″ Eureka Springs paintings.  After school, I returned to the above piece and believe it is now finished.

As a child, I was inundated with Red Goose Shoes commercials, though I never bought a pair.  This sign on 5227 Gravois, southwest of downtown St. Louis, I recall seeing time and time again.  Last Christmas, while visiting St. Louis, I poked around the remnants of Route 66 that wound in strange fashion through the city of St. Louis, and fortunately had bright sunlight and plenty of snow to provide a great shot of the defunct storefront. As I took my photos, I felt that warm “Proustian” remembrance of special things past.

Throughout my elementary school years, I raced home daily after school so I could watch The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, and other assorted programs  my parents deemed “inappropriate.”  Nevertheless, they were aired on local children’s programming, such as Captain 11 Showboat.  As I watched daily, lucky children sitting in the “peanut gallery” (I believe that designation actually came from Howdy Doody) would win a box of shoes from Red Goose Shoes, along with the Golden Egg filled with prizes.

As stated in an earlier blog, I’m delighted to find a Red Goose Shoes vintage sign in Sundance Square, downtown Fort Worth, about twenty minutes from where I live.  My intention is to capture that in watercolor soon.

Thank you for reading.

So Much Depends Upon a Red Goose–Tribute to William Carlos Williams

March 8, 2011

Trautwein's Red Goose Shoes, St. Louis

I’m working in my garage/studio after school on a Tuesday afternoon.  Texas storms are brewing, but right now, the light is good and the breezes are pleasant.  My Voices and Visions documentary video of William Carlos Williams is playing as I post this, and has been playing over the past hour as I’ve painted on this piece.  Williams was a pediatrician, and his son was a podiatrist.  Hence I got this notion to paint this Red Goose Shoes sign, reminiscing with a grin about a WCW poem that I suppose will never erase from my consciousness:

so much depends

upon

a red wheel

barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens.

Every time I see something that is strikingly red and fading in time, this poem comes to the surface of my consciousness.  Hence the Red Goose Shoes sign.  There is one languishing in downtown Fort Worth near where I live.  Soon I’ll probably go and try to paint that one as well.

This is the defunct Trautwein’s Shoes at 5227 Gravois in Southwest St. Louis.  Last Christmas, as my wife and I poked around historic route 66 that threaded through St. Louis (I recently finished the Spencer’s Grill painting and posted it on this blog), I was struck by this vintage sign, shining brightly in the winter sun, and took a number of photos from several angles.  I have found some sensitive blogged comments about this store and would like to post the link for you if you’re interested in learning the background of this sad store:  http://www.beltstl.com/2005/07/independent-shoes/

So, as I listen to the lifestyle of William Carlos Williams, who always gathered ideas for visual poems as he traveled about his small town, I too wish to make a contribution remembering the sights I encounter as I make my daily rounds.

Thanks for reading.

Red Goose Shoes and Memories of Neighborhoods Past

March 6, 2011

Red Goose Shoes at Trautwein's

This winter evening in my garage/studio is beyond belief.  I’m bent over this painting I’ve begun of an abandoned shoe store in southwest St. Louis, near where I grew up.  I photographed the store and derelict sign during the Christmas holidays on a cold snowy afternoon while I was cruising historic Route 66 and Gravois Road.  There is plenty of information on this Trautwein’s store’s history on the Internet, and in subsequent postings, I will recover the blogs I read a couple of months ago, prompting me to attempt this painting.

What I’ve found enchanting this evening, is listening to a documentary on William Carlos Williams while I paint.  WCW was a poet and pediatrician in Rutherford, New Jersey, who made his rounds about the small town in the early decades of the twentieth century.  He was a pioneer of Imagism, as his active eye recorded the events of his daily odysseys and he actively scribbled rough drafts of poems of these on his prescription pads.  Coming home late at night, he would push these scraps of paper around on the table top, and revise them into the poems we now love.

As I’ve worked late this afternoon and into the darkening evening, my ear has filled with the sounds of this WCW documentary, mingled with the live sounds of my suburban neighborhood–stock car races roaring in neighboring Kennedale, children on bicycles up and down the street beside my house, suburbanites walking their dogs and chatting with acquaintances,  a table saw shrieking in someone else’s garage (man-cave) nearby.  The sight must be peculiar if anyone looks up in my direction–an open garage and a guy sitting at a drafting table working on a watercolor, watching a portable TV and blogging on a laptop.  No power tools to be seen in this cave!  I have absolutely soaked every sensation of this day from my garage, Proust-like, enjoying today and remembering yesterday.

I hate that I have to return to school early in the morning, and see it through all the way to Open House tomorrow night.  This painting, after tonight, will probably lay dormant for about 48 hours.  But hopefully, the image will compost in my mind’s eye, and develop in a way that I’ll know what to do when I finally return to it.  I’m glad Spring Break is only a week away.  Perhaps I’ll get more “real” work done then.  I had hoped that this weekend could feature 2 1/2 days in the studio, but that was not to be.  A family emergency, plus too-many-errands, managed to cut up my quality painting time into very small segments.  Though I painted three times today, none of those “sessions” lasted longer than 45 minutes before something else “came up” that had to be tended.  But, that’s how we live.  I have no complaints, really.

Thanks for reading.  I hope your day has been as good as mine.

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.

On the Road Today

March 5, 2011

On the Road

I guess its only fitting that this painting goes On the Road with me today.  Late last night, my wife received the phone call that her elderly aunt had become ill, and that her roommate (recovering from a recent car accident and hospital convalescence) had to be rushed by ambulance back to the hospital with breathing issues.  We made the one-hour journey to the Emergency Room, and waited for her to stabilize and be admitted to a room.  I then took Sandi to spend the night with her sick aunt and I returned home by 2:30 a.m.  Back up at 7:15 this morning, fed the dogs, getting ready to take them to the groomer, packed fresh clothes for Sandi, and am preparing to return to the hospital, one hour north.  I’m taking this painting along with me, as I need still to draw the line of newspaper vending machines along the wall of Spencer’s Grill–the only cloud of white, undeveloped area remaining on this piece.  I expect I’ll finish the drawing sometime on the trip, and then paint it all in when I return (whenever that is).  I’m glad the two women are going to be fine with some rest and a couple of us tending their needs this weekend.

Thanks for reading.

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.

Route 66 Nostalgia at Spencer’s Grill

March 3, 2011

Despite my earlier post today, I resolved to find a way to get into my garage studio and paint this afternoon.  It wasn’t easy, as I had a college class to teach tonight.  Nevertheless, I did get into the watercolor a bit more, and began the building on the right across the street, and continued tinkering with the horizon colors and shapes.  I think it’s realistic that I could finish this one up by the weekend.  I apologize for the poor photo, as the lights in my garage are not very good, and I didn’t have the foresight to photograph the work this afternoon when the daylight was nice and strong.  But nevertheless it gives the viewer another voyeuristic “snapshot” of a work in progress in my garage.

Thanks for reading.