Posts Tagged ‘Route 66’

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.

Another Route 66 Service Station Relic from a Dying America

March 3, 2011

Cold Desolation, Robertsville, Missouri

I have decided to post an older work now featured on my website (and the original is still for sale at the Weiler House Fine Arts Gallery http://www.weilerhousefineart.com).  A demanding school schedule has jerked me out of the studio for a minimum of two days, it appears, and I really wish to blog daily.  I’m having to work hard to make this possible.  Hopefully tomorrow I can return to my Spencer’s Grill painting and (maybe) finish it by the weekend.

My father has always taken an interest in my art work, even from my early childhood.  Once I launched Recollections 54, he was even more diligent in scouting for me these out-of-the way, forgotten towns that had once flourished throughout the fifties.  During one Christmas visit, he took me on some county roads west of St. Louis, adjacent to Route 66.  Stopping in Robertsville, I photographed this abandoned station from every possible angle.  It was about 10 degrees out, and snow was everywhere, and my 35mm camera lens was continually fogging up.  But I managed to get some decent photos, and put these images in the back of my mind’s eye to “compost” for a few years.

Of course, there were no signs left on this abused structure.  I added all of those, using props I’ve collected over the years.  The automobile was actually found alongside Route 66 in New Mexico, somewhere near Santa Rosa.  No such vehicles were to be seen on this property.

Once I finished the wintry, stormy sky and was ready to begin painting the building beneath, I had an accident in the studio.  Pushing a pile of books off my desk to clear room for an armload of “junk,” I hadn’t counted on the books bouncing along the floor and hitting this painting which was on the floor, propped against the wall.  I prefer to work on D’Arches paper, soaked in a shower and stapled on canvas stretchers, as though I were preparing a surface for oil or acrylic painting.  When dry, this surface is stretched tight as a drum skin, and delightful to work on with wet-on-wet watercolor.  Anyway, the books tore three holes in the painting.  My first reaction was to rip it off and throw it away, but it was the best sky I had ever painted!  So, I turned it over, scotch-taped the rips from behind, and proceeded onward with it.  I’m glad I did.  The painting won Best of Show in a competition the following year and a handsome check.

Something that attaches me to this painting is the reality that it was painted all over the Midwest, West and Southwest.  The summer that it was painted was a time when I decided to do a “Kerouac-style” road trip.  I loaded my Jeep and drove from Dallas/Fort Worth through SE Oklahoma, across Missouri and to St. Louis where I stayed awhile and visited with my family, painting on this from time to time.  Then I drove west to Kansas City, and onward to Denver.  From there I fly fished my way west to Kremmling, and then all the way down the Arkansas River, from its headwaters in Leadville, and on down through Buena Vista, Salida and Canon City.  Then it was on to Santa Fe, New Mexico and finally back home to Arlington, Texas.  I finished this watercolor in Canon City, Colorado, but enjoyed thoroughly working on it in St. Louis, Kremmling and Leadville as well.  All of this is to say–I saw much of this kind of “abandoned town” setting throughout my lengthy road-trip excursion that summer, and all of those sights fed this painting.

Incidentally, I had another “accident” in my garage studio day before yesterday–my French easel collapsed (a small piece of wood with 2 screws tore loose on the back leg) and crashed to the floor with “Spencer’s Grill” on it.  The result is two holes in this painting, now.  Anyway, I scotch-taped those from the back as well, and hope this will be alright.  I like the painting too much to throw it away.

Thanks for reading.

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.