Posts Tagged ‘The Gallery at Redlands’

Morning Coffee on Smooth Rock 93.5 FM at the Gallery at Redlands

October 12, 2018

Incidentally, I despise everything which merely instructs me without
increasing or immediately enlivening my activity.

Goethe

Interview on “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” at Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

For the first time during their two weeks of live broadcasting, I entered The Gallery at Redlands and was shocked to see the real ambience of a radio station for the first time. I had always envisioned the live clatter and chatter that one associates with a newsroom. Instead, inside of Smooth Rock 93.5 FM, my new roommate in the gallery, I found two quiet men in a darkened pre-dawn gallery. The music was playing softly in the background and they were poring over the raw materials for the day’s broadcast. It was as quiet as a library. We exchanged greetings and I went to my gallery desk and began work on today’s details involving a trip to Edom to set up my booth for the Edom Art Festival beginning tomorrow.

After a few minutes, Kevin and Marc called me over to take a seat at the guest mic, and before I knew it, we were on! Sitting between two professionals made the experience much easier for me, and the time flew by as we discussed art and the gallery in general. The radio station is hoping to draw more people into this space to enjoy music and art, a perfect blend.

The Goethe quote above has been lingering with me this morning. As I have shared in the past, I was mentally lazy throughout my public schooling, engrossed in making art but feeling that classroom instruction in English, history, science and math was dull and uninspiring. Finally, at the university, the world of academia took on color and dimension and I could not seem to get enough of it. From those days till now, I have grazed from many pastures, ranging from reading to making art to making music to writing, enjoying the stimulation from every one of them.

Observe the herd which is grazing beside you. It does not know what yesterday
or today is. It springs around, eats, rests, digests, jumps up again, and so from
morning to night and from day to day, with its likes and dislikes closely tied to
the peg of the moment, and thus neither melancholy nor weary. To witness this
is hard for man, because he boasts to himself that his human race is better than
the beast and yet looks with jealousy at its happiness.

Friedrich Nietzsche, “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life,” Untimely Meditations, 1874

With my recent re-reading of Nietzsche’s essay, I was reminded about what was required to make history come alive for me. I was never fascinated with names, dates and places or doing homework that answered questions at the end of the chapter. Nietzsche spoke of different approaches to the study of history, but the one that took root with me was what he called the “monumentalist” study of history. This approach concentrates on past heroes in order to confront contemporary mediocrity with the possibility of greatness.  One of the factors underlying my criticism of the U. S. Congress in an earlier blog post is that we no longer have statesmen or thinkers that would remind us of a Thomas Jefferson or a Benjamin Franklin in our current government, not even close. Not one of them appears to esteem such qualities as they occupy their offices, doing little-to-nothing to leave a lasting legacy for others to admire and follow. They smack of arrogance, anger and entitlement. And when it comes to classical virtues or family values, they have a tin ear. Nietzsche urged his readers to find heroes to study and emulate.

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Edom Art Festival (2017)

Kevin and Marc have asked me to return for some more air time, so I’m standing by. This afternoon, I leave for Edom to set up for the weekend festival. This is one of my favorite venues, situated on beautiful, rolling, tree-populated pastureland complete with barns, sheds and various outbuildings. The weather promises to be cooler, fall-temperature weather, and I am ready!

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.

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Morning Coffee with Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

October 2, 2018

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It was the most words Frank had ever heard Mr. Odom speak at once. He looked drained, as if he had used up a week’s worth of language and here it was only Monday.

Garrison Keillor, WLT: A Radio Romance

Unusual for me to open my blog with a meditation on radio. But my life has entered a new zone since Smooth Rock 93.5 FM became my new roommate yesterday, broadcasting live in the mornings from The Gallery at Redlands. My habit has been to rise at 7 a.m. every morning and go through my ritual. Yesterday and today, I set the alarm for 5:00 so I could be showered, dressed and have breakfast and coffee ready before Smooth Rock began live at 6:00. Live streaming them from my laptop and opening their Facebook page has added a new dimension to my mornings.

I posted the hilarious statement above from Keillor’s book, because (for me) over 90% of radio traffic is a diarrhea of words that I choose to avoid. I won’t list the plethora of stations and personalities that ruin my disposition by merely recalling them. But that is not where I am right now. Before I go any further, I should mention that I have met Kevin Harris and Marc Mitchell of “Kevin and Marc in the Morning.” I enjoyed their company for days while they were setting up their gear in the gallery, had meals with them, and above all, thoroughly enjoyed every conversation we had. I knew them before I heard them on the air. I am not surprised at their depth of knowledge pertaining to radio history and broadcast trends–that would be expected of men in their profession. What I enjoyed thoroughly was their genuine grounding while discussing ideas and life in general–nothing superficial about these men. I could spend an entire day with either or both of them in earnest conversation without repeating anything or running out of things to discuss.

Now to get to the point of this blog: radio and solitude. For me, radio at its best has been a companion during times alone throughout my adult years. In the late 1970’s, I went to graduate school  in Fort Worth daily, and welded at POCO Graphite in Decatur during any shift that could be wedged into my schedule. I recall a frigid winter when I reported to work at 5:00 a.m. I knew it was time to fire up the welder when the radio in the shop played Connie Smith singing “Clinging to a Saving Hand” thus signaling the end of one radio show and the beginning of a new. The radio had to be turned off, because it was time to go to work. But the morning routine included listening to the dusky voice of Connie Smith singing those meditative lyrics. That moment of the morning ritual meant something special to me.

During the academic year 1985-86, I lived in Fort Worth, but commuted early mornings one hour to Denton to teach as an adjunct for the first time in my life at the University of North Texas. I taught Introduction to Philosophy both semesters, and that was a life-changing year, the hinge between life as welder/graduate student and one as teacher. I had no idea that I would follow that teaching path from 1985 till now. Every morning during the commute, I tuned the car radio to KEGL 97.1 to listen and laugh along with Stevens and Pruett. For one hour every weekday morning, they were my car companions, taking my mind off the anxieties of teaching and letting me laugh as well as think about things that mattered at the time. One morning in March, I tuned in and was dismayed to find a trio of broadcasters I had never heard before. Stevens and Pruett had taken their show to Houston, and of course, we couldn’t radio stream in those days, so the best part of my morning commute was over. I couldn’t find another FM radio station to replace what they had given, so my radio went silent.

I was dismayed this morning when researching this duo to find out what became of them. Both are deceased, Mark Stevens in 2010 and Jim Pruett in 2016. And Stevens had suffered from Alzheimers. I felt the same profound sadness that I felt the morning I received the news that Andrew Wyeth had passed away. Sad, because nothing new will come from these creative, engaging individuals. Fortunately they leave us with memories, but still, I am saddened that their creative run has ended.

I write and speak of this frequently–my life has been one lived largely in solitude, and I don’t offer that as shameful confession or reason to be pitied. This is how I seem to have been made, and have lived out sixty-four years of it with no regret. I love and value relationships. I have always enjoyed the public dimension of life as a teacher. But solitude is the core of my existence, and during times that I am alone, I gladly read, write, make art, and engage in activity that I don’t find easy to do when in the company of others. And during the daily hours of solitude, I have found much enrichment in reading what others have written, and sometimes watching something on TV or listening to the radio.

So . . . I salute this new friendship I’ve been offered from Smooth Rock 93.5, and am grateful now to know Kevin Harris and Marc Mitchell. For the past two mornings, “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” have brought something pleasant into my morning routine at the desk. As the music plays and they weave in their talk format, I find a satisfying rhythm while I do what I do (this morning writing this blog and printing off a quantity of my greeting cards for an upcoming art festival).

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If you have room for radio in the morning, I invite you to tune in to “Kevin and Marc in the Morning.” You can listen live by going to their website:

https://www.smoothrock935.com/

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smooth rock

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.

Early Morning Coffee with David and Herman

October 1, 2018

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Revisiting Herman Melville in the Pre-Dawn

All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks.  But in each event–in the living act, the undoubted deed–there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask.  If man will strike, strike through the mask!

Captain Ahab’s speech in Moby Dick

Yesterday afternoon, while visiting with my friends, the Darrs, our conversation turned to literature. The Darrs are such passionate readers. As we talked, Moby Dick somehow entered the conversation. I confessed that I had not read the book till the summer of 2014, and I could not put the book down till I was finished. This morning, rising at 5:00, I made coffee and sat down to re-explore the pages of this great work.

For nearly thirty years, I patiently pointed out to anyone who would listen, in the lecture rooms or in the lounges, the scaffolding of Platonist thought in literature.  Plato’s split-world view was divided between Ideas and Appearances, the former permanent and spiritual, the latter ephemeral and physical.  And the permanent ideas provide the scaffolding for the physical appearances.  In this dramatic confrontation in Moby Dick, Captain Ahab publicly confronts a reluctant Starbuck who protests that selfishly seeking revenge on a white whale is impractical business.  Ahab twice retorts that Starbuck inhabits a “little lower layer”–the realm of money, measurement, accounting and computing.  This layer is only a portion of the pasteboard mask that hides the real intelligence lurking behind it.  I heard Ahab shouting at me when he cried out: “If man will strike, strike through the mask!”

I believe that most of the  dissatisfaction blistering from life today is caused by a failure to “strike through that mask.”  What is the mask, the wall, the barrier, standing between us and what we seek?  I shuddered every semester when my philosophy class would read and discuss Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.”  One prisoner broke his chains and rose to the world of truth.  The class discussion would always enliven when students began discussing the chains that bound them, the masks that daunted them.  The human predicament is the quest for something more, and often finding that that “something more” was a mere mask, not what we really thought we were seeking.  There is so much to ponder here.  What is the nature of the mask through which we are challenged to strike?

I rose early this morning, because the inaugural broadcast of the “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” show will run from 6:00-10:00, and I didn’t want to miss the event. I so wished to be in the gallery when the show launched, but alas, I have a doctor’s appointment here, two hours away from Palestine. So I will only be able to tune in and listen. For any of my readers who would like to hear the show, you can go to the website and click on the link to “listen live.”

https://www.smoothrock935.com/

smooth rock

Thanks always for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Sunday Morning Coffee in the Wilderness

September 30, 2018

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Coffee Always Seems to Taste Better in this Setting

. . . I’m off to the cabin–and am looking forward to the strong mountain air . . . I am working full tilt and am annoyed only by the coming semester and the philistine air that surrounds one again . . . It’s late night already–the storm is sweeping over the hill, the beams are creaking in the cabin, life lies pure, simple, and great before the soul.

Martin Heidegger, letters from his cabin in the Black Forest, July 24-April, 1925-1926.

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My Favorite Country Retreat

I closed down The Gallery at Redlands at 9:30 last night and began my fifty-minute drive to my favorite refuge in the country. Waking around 7:00 this morning without an alarm, I found a dense fog enveloping the land. After showering, dressing and making coffee, I took up my favorite abode on the veranda and enjoyed the serene landscape spread out around me. By the time I took the photos above (around 8:30), much of the mist had evaporated, but still there was a muted color on the distant horizon, and deer continually emerged from the edge of the woods to poke around in the tall grasses.

I resumed reading from Rüdiger Safranski’s Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil, particularly the portions of his residence in his cabin in Todtnauberg on the edge of the Black Forest where he did all his significant writing. As I read, I listened to the crows across the road, and occasionally looked up at the autumn fog from the Gulf lifting off the distant forest ridge. The caress of the morning breeze across my face took me to an even calmer world than what I felt in that east Texas wilderness. Before we opened The Gallery at Redlands last year, I would escape to this place, especially during the cold winter months, and enjoy days of quiet where I could read stacks of books, fill my journals and work on some serious watercolors, including some of my favorites below:

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Goods Stored on the Shelf of the Store where I Reside

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Door Separating the Store from the Residence in Back

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Where I Sat while Painting the Doorknob Above

While sitting outside, sipping coffee, reading from the biography, and scribbling scattered thoughts in my journal, I began to ponder seriously the notion of returning to this sacred space once the weather turns cold again to see what I could accomplish with some space and quiet around me for a stretch of days and nights. I have this compulsion to churn out a large body of work, and I’m happy during these post-retirement years to have opportunities to hole up in a quiet space and let my creative bliss run uninterrupted. I am always inspired by stories of Martin Heidegger retreating from the University of Freiburg to take up residence in his Black Forest cabin to think in solitude and eventually write Being and Time. Such a quiet space is a luxury for anyone wishing to create in silence, and I shall always be grateful to my dear friends for providing such a space for me.

Before closing down the gallery last night, I managed to complete a composition of the wrecked church perched on the hill of the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas where I visited last spring.

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Working in the Gallery at Night

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Completed Watercolor of Terlingua

Sunday morning is dark and quiet in downtown Palestine. The taped music of Smooth Rock 93.5 FM is filling the gallery, and I am loving the atmosphere as I work here in The Gallery at Redlands for the day. I hope you will tune in to the first live broadcast of this new radio station tomorrow morning, from 6:00-10:00. You can stream it from their website:

https://www.smoothrock935.com/

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Smooth Rock 93.5 FM–Window to the World

“Kevin and Marc in the Morning” promises to be a fun way to begin each weekday. I cannot wait to hear them for the first time.  And so . . . this is Dave signing off on Sunday morning from The Gallery at Redlands, alongside 93.5 FM in the historic Redlands Hotel located in downtown Palestine, Texas.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Friday Night in the Gallery with Kevin & Marc

September 28, 2018

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Marc Mitchell & Kevin Harris doing mic check before going live

Dad had once said, “It takes genius to elevate the ordinary, a very ordinary genius,” and that’s exactly what I am, Frank thought, an ordinary genius. He had unlocked the secret of radio. The sport of the ordinary! Brilliant men like Reed Seymour couldn’t figure this out for the life of them! Reed was ashamed of radio. Vesta was ashamed of it. Reed wanted to do something worthy with his life, like write books. He had part of a manuscript in his desk drawer. Frank had read it. Very intense, very poetic. And very hard going. Vesta wanted to bring in the treasures of the world and display them on the air, like opening a museum and showing postcards of the Venus de Milo. No, radio was a cinch if you kept reaching down and grabbing up handfuls of the ordinary. Keep your feet on the ground.

Garrison Keillor, WLT: A Radio Romance

The late afternoon autumn sun cast its warm glow across the town as I motored into Palestine, Texas. Stepping out of the Jeep and into the cool winds felt terrific as I unloaded new watercolors for the gallery. My heart was lifted even more when I discovered my new friends, Kevin and Marc, already inside the gallery, testing out the three mics in the control booth. I was introduced to Ken, the engineer working on the finer details of the new system. I tried to take a decent picture from the hotel lobby, through the gallery door, to capture the broadcasters seated at their “Window to the World.”

En route to Palestine, I dropped by Art on the Square in Waxahachie and picked up three of the seven pieces I’ve had on display there. I thought I would see if a new venue would assist in finding homes for them.

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Fort Worth Flatiron on the Left; Waxahachie Depot on the Right

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Ellis County Courthouse, Waxahachie

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Waxahachie Depot in Foreground; Courthouse in Background

As it got closer to dark, I needed to leave the gallery to run some business errands. Kevin and Marc were still testing the mics while the station aired pre-taped music. As I was driving around town, I tuned in to 93.5 and they were live! It was so fun, listening to their on-air banter as they confessed to the listeners that they were just checking things out to make sure the system was working. They explained that the gallery studio signal went up to the second floor to another studio in their offices, and then to the antenna atop the hotel and finally out to the listeners. The broadcasters sounded like they were having great fun, and so was I, just listening and knowing the fellows behind the voices.

I brought my painting supplies to the gallery with me and plan to do some serious work tonight, Saturday and Sunday. As I work and play, I will find a way to send pictures and words out to any of you who wish to read what we’re doing here in Palestine, Texas.

And so, this is Dave signing off from The Gallery at Redlands alongside Smooth Rock 93.5 FM inside the historic Redlands Hotel in downtown Palestine, Texas.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave & Garrison Keillor

September 21, 2018

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 Smooth Rock 93.5 KBPC FM, moving in to The Gallery at Redlands

“Boys,” he said, “the days of radio are numbered. Old Price is trying to tell us.”

            The boys laughed. Radio? In decline? This was 1937. When you were in radio, you owned the world. Men moved aside for you, beautiful women smiled up at you, doors opened, and as you slipped through, you heard people whisper your name.

Garrison Keillor, WLT: A Radio Romance

West Texas is a dark, rainy, cool 66 degrees this morning as I set up my “office” in Tova Coffee House, a relaxing atmosphere for reading, blogging, catching up on correspondence and monitoring my college classes online. Spending as much time on the road as I do, I am happy with the convenience of technology that allows me to go online and take care of things that need tending while I am away from home. Also, I have the exciting errand of delivering more of my art work to Art for Goodness Sake, a gallery in Lubbock that carries my work. I am also picking up paintings in Amarillo from Ian Watson, a student of mine from many years past, now an artist gaining traction in galleries. We are adding his work to Art for Goodness Sake as well as The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine. A funny coincidence is that Ian Watson has recently obtained a position with a radio station in Amarillo. I laugh because both of us are artists preparing to share time and space with radio personalities.

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Enjoying a Bottomless Cup of Coffee at Tova Coffee House

Just before retiring to bed last evening, I received a text message from Jean Mollard, owner of The Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas. She sent the photo posted above of our gallery window with the newly-installed TV screen featuring Smooth Rock 93.5. Behind the screen you can also see the silhouettes of microphones in the broadcast booth. The last word I received was that the station would send out its first broadcast October 1. I have already met the DJ Kevin Harris, and have become friends on Facebook with Marc Mitchell. The energy of these men has already inflated my expectations of good times to come when radio finally arrives in The Gallery at Redlands. The link to the radio website is posted below:

https://www.smoothrock935.com/

I read Garrison Keillor’s WLT when it first came out in 1991, and laughed out loud as I always do when reading or listening to Keillor. The novel involves a radio station that opened in a sandwich shop in the Ogden Hotel at 12th and LaSalle in downtown Minneapolis (the call letters WLT stand for “with lettuce and tomato”). The hilarious stories revolve around the radio station and everyday hotel, cafe and general business life in the city. As the station evolves with the changing times, the stories only get funnier. I highly recommend the reading of this book for anyone fond of radio romance. Because of the imminent arrival of Smooth Rock 93.5 and the fertile ideas shared by DJ Kevin Harris, I have decided to re-read this volume. I always laughed at the idea of a radio station beginning with a single microphone in a hotel sandwich shop. Now I meet radio personalities who are thrilled to operate out of an historic hotel built in 1914, their broadcast booth looking out the window of an art gallery (they are referring to it as “The Window to the World” and the window display, besides the TV screen and a pair of my easel paintings will feature an old-fashioned ON THE AIR flashing image).

My personal radio memories are as follows: Television did not come into our home till I was six years old. Before then, the radio was always playing, and I listened to the programs as well as the music played in those days. Once television arrived in our home, radio life declined till I reached the fourth grade and got my first transistor radio (a 3 transistor!), and began listening to The Beatles on KXOK 630AM, and to St. Louis Cardinal ballgames. Recently, I acquired an LP of the old KXOK radio jingles and ads that I heard as a child, and enjoy spinning it on the turntable. And thanks to YouTube, I have recently had the pleasure of listening to documentaries of that now-defunct station and its heyday of the 50’s and 60’s.

My own personal radio involvement is sharply limited. In college days while in the ministry, I occasionally played guitar, sang and delivered short sermons and devotionals on small-town radio stations in north Missouri, Iowa and Illinois, and later north Texas. That was the late 1970’s. And then, a few years ago, I was afforded the luxury of a two-hour interview on an Internet radio broadcast. I still have the Podcast and enjoy replaying it from time to time. The subject then was my Artist-in-Residency for Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. I was given the opportunity of being interviewed and answering call-in questions about my stay on the island in the Laguna Madre where I did my plein air watercolors, kept a journal, and continued sending out my blog.

I avoid like the plague most AM talk-radio stations, particularly the ones I refer to as “hate radio” with all their wild-eyed political ranting. But with all my time spent on the road, I still love flipping the dial of FM radio stations and particularly enjoy the ones revolving around a DJ with genuine personality. Such formats seem harder to find. Never in my wildest dream could I have imagined a station with my favorite musical genre moving into the same gallery where I enjoy working most weekends. This is a genuine gift, and my gratitude is undying. Art and music in the same working space. Who could have asked for a better working environment?

Sunday morning railyard

Smooth Rock 93.5–“Window to the World”

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.

Morning Coffee with Dave & Donald Judd

September 17, 2018

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Home Again, at my Desk

He likes to sit and drink and think.

Donald Judd’s intern, quoted in Texas Highways

I have only visited Marfa, Texas twice, and feel the urge to make up for lost time. Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation made a profound impact on me the first time I visited, long before I launched into the business of making art. I posted this quote about him because it describes my favorite mode of being. In the days of my Marfa visitation, I was cultivating what I had always heard referred to as “the Life of the Mind” but was shy to talk or write about it. I am no longer shy about this; I have wished to live a life of the mind for as long as I can remember, and now, being semi-retired, have much more time for contemplation than my friends think that I do. Yes, I am always on the go, and have already had two hours of “windshield time” this morning, waking up in the gorgeous Redlands Hotel and heading back to my Arlington home.

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My Gorgeous Redlands Hotel Lodgings Sunday

The two-hour excursion from Palestine to Arlington this morning took me through glowing gold sun-drenched pasture lands. The clouds cast perfect carpets of cold shadows across the warm acreage as I drove along, and I kept wishing I could just pull the Jeep over and set up an easel. Unfortunately, I have two appointments today that cannot be broken, so I had to get back to my home town. I thought of the lines from Robert Frost: The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep . . .

The weekend was grand, and I have already written about meeting the DJ for smoothrock93.5 who will be moving in to share space with me soon at The Gallery at Redlands. The Redlands Hotel is ecstatic about his arrival, and yesterday cable was being put in place for the technology that will be arriving soon. In all my gallery experiences, nothing has compared to this. The Gallery at Redlands overwhelmed me in March 2017 with its opening, providing a place for me to display and sell my work. And the Redlands Hotel has treated me like family, providing lodging for me on weekends when I come to work in the gallery. Yesterday was different, as Jean and Mike stayed and worked into the night at the Hotel, and I felt comfortable keeping the gallery open till after 9 p.m. I managed to accomplish several tasks during those hours.

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Working Late into the Night

The Texas Highways article did not specify what Donald Judd  was inclined to drink while thinking, but coffee remains my preferred beverage, especially French-pressed coffee as is my morning custom. And I consider it a life luxury when I have time to be still and ponder the things that matter most to me. I am hoping to get into the studio today and pursue some watercolor activity. But it is Monday, and that means a pile of homework to grade from three college classes that came due last night online. So, we’ll see . . .

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee with Dave and a University Theologian

September 9, 2018

Schleier

From of old, faith has not been every man’s affair. At all times but few have discerned religion itself, while millions, in various ways, have been satisfied to juggle with its trappings.

Friedrich Schleiermacher, On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers

Waking early on Sunday morning and hearing the bells tolling at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, I rolled over in bed and looked out my fourth-story window directly across the street and admired the stark white towering structure against the azure blue skies. Waking on Sunday mornings inside the historic Redlands Hotel stirs feelings inside me that transcend words. I reached to the bedside table of my hotel room and opened my Greek New Testament to translate from The Gospel of Mark, chapter 4: The Parable of the Sower. The words from Schleiermacher’s writings, posted above, were my first thoughts, and I found this parallel in a New Testament parable.

4:1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.

And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,

Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:

But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

.   .    .

13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

14 The sower soweth the word.

15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,

19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

Gospel of Mark 4:1-20

Schleiermacher argues that a slim minority has focused on the realm of religion. Two thousand years before Schleiermacher uttered these words at an assembly, a Galilean spoke from a boat moored just off the seashore to a crowd gathered on the land, and uttered this parable. The story relays the truth that the sower scattering seed in rocky Palestine finds only small pockets of soil fertile enough to yield an abundant harvest. When disciples pressed Jesus for a spiritual interpretation of the parable, he said that the seed sown was the Word. Why was there little return when the Word was sown? The parable mentions four types of soil that received the seed–wayside, stony, thorny and quality. The application of the parallel pertains to the kinds of minds receiving the Word. Sometimes the Word falls on deaf ears. Sometimes it lands on shallow minds. Other times it falls among minds too distracted. But occasionally it settles upon minds prepared to receive. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Remembering that I had packed Schleiermacher’s volume among my items for this weekend, I went downstairs to the gallery to retrieve it. Over coffee, I read and paused over the passage posted above. Schleiermacher insisted that few people burrow deeply into the religious sentiment. The audience he addressed in these speeches was a mixed one: some of the crowd were university professors who scoffed at the anti-intellectualism of the church in general; another part of the crowd consisted of pious worshipers who distrusted scholarship, believing that university personnel consisted of arrogant scoffers. Schleiermacher was the one who was simultaneously churchman and university man. In his six Speeches, he sought to bring the two sides together in healthy dialogue.

As I continued to read and scribble observations in my journal, thinking of the richness of religion, and the few who care to absorb it, I recalled a similar thread from Thoreau:

The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

For most of my adult life, I have found myself classifying humanity in much the same way as just touched upon by Schleiermacher, by Jesus, and by Thoreau. But this morning, I don’t want to do that. Instead of breaking the population down into groups, grading them by their receptivity, I wish to take inventory of my own personal ways, and come to grips with this striking parallel. I know that I am not consistent, not 100% “alert” all the time. Whether it be physical weariness, spiritual depression, or just plain distractedness, I acknowledge this morning that I tend to find myself all over the map. The truth is, there are times when I am not receptive to the genuine qualities life offers. Sometimes these truths fall on the wayside, unnoticed by me, and nothing happens. Sometimes the gifts fall directly in front of me and I seize them with immediate joy, but with no depth of soil, and when times get rough, I forget the riches. And then sometimes the good things fall among the thorns–the “distractions” of life that choke out their fruitfulness. But there are those blessed times that when the gift arrives, I am prepared, collected, focused, and willing to embrace it with all thankfulness.

For the past week, I suppose I have been classed in that third soil type: thorns. Jesus interpreted those as the “distractions” of life that choke out the Word and make it unfruitful. I can certainly identify with that. There has been so much on my plate of late: plumbing issues and restoration inside my house, three college classes, a series of Academic Decathlon lectures, little time for quality reading and thought, and no time allowed to create art. All of that added up to an unsatisfying week. I now recall those gentle words of rebuke from Jesus to Martha in Bethany:

Martha, Martha. You are distracted by many things. Only one thing matters . . . 

This morning, I have ears to hear. My college grading has been all caught up. I have a day to relax in The Gallery at Redlands. I have my books, my journal and my art supplies. Today, I anticipate quality as I seek to focus on one thing.

Thanks for reading.

Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, my Neighbor

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The Gallery at Redlands Early this Morning

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Always a Wonderful Stay at the Redlands Hotel

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The Guitar is Always a Comfort

Morning Coffee with Dave & Paul

September 8, 2018

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Courage is the affirmation of one’s essential nature, one’s inner aim or entelechy, but it is an affirmation which has in itself the character of “in spite of.”

Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be

Rainy and cool, this Saturday morning spent in The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas has offered a perfect enclave for coffee and books, surrounded by art. In this quiet and lovely space, I have felt my soul restored.

The theologian Paul Tillich has been one of my intellectual and spiritual heroes since 1992. He embodied courage to me, standing up to the intimidation tactics of the Hitler regime on university campuses. In 1933, he was numbered among the first dozen faculty to be dismissed from teaching posts in Germany (him being the only non-Jew). American scholars meeting at Columbia University saved his professional career, bringing him to New York’s Union University for a fresh new beginning. He served at Union twenty-two years before moving on to Harvard for the next seven, then on to the University of Chicago, where he taught until his death.

Reading Rollo May’s Paulus: Remiscences of a Friendship back in 1992, I finally learned about the lifestyle of this scholar whom I had known only by reputation. Tillich’s passion for scholarship, teaching and the arts renewed my own faith in what I was doing and continue to do this day. When I find myself torn between desires to read a book, scribble in my journal, listen to a lecture on YouTube, play my guitar, or work on a watercolor, I think of Paul Tillich who wished he could engage in several pursuits at the same time. Today has been one of those days. The gallery environment always stirs my creative blood. Hence I packed in all my art supplies, a dozen books, my journal, my laptop and my guitar. Now I need to decide which to do first.

Though never facing crises remotely connected to what Paul Tillich endured, I still have endured a string of personal, gut-wrenching failures in life, going all the way back to the early 1980’s (I am confidant that I am not unique in that). What inspires me about this book, The Courage to Be, is the author’s stress on that fortitude in our souls that fights back when circumstances try to convince us that we are of little worth. That was the echoing refrain when I suffered a major setback in  life, or failed to accomplish a significant goal. Circumstances seemed to cry out that I was inadequate. But at the same time, I would rebelliously take inventory of what I had accomplished (especially those victories won without encouragement from others), and I would feel myself crying out: “I am worthy! And I am playing the best I can with the hand I’ve been dealt.” Paul Tillich was an existentialist theologian/philosopher. And one of his hallmarks was the belief that what mattered in life was how you play the hand you are dealt.

Many have their own ways of thinking about death and what comes after. I think of Paul Tillich’s ship arriving in New York harbor in 1933, and no one here in America to greet him (though most likely someone from the Columbia gathering was waiting for him). Nevertheless, it had to be dreadful, Tillich leaving his homeland to start over in New York, with a feeble grasp of English. Most certainly, he felt anguish, wondering what he would encounter on this shore. When I think of death, I think of myself arriving at a port, and Paul Tillich waiting at the landing to greet me. I have so cherished and taken to heart his writings throughout my adult life, wishing I had known him while he was living, that I now fantasize of him knowing that someone on this earth, in the next generation, sought out his courageous writings for strength while teaching and figuring out life. I see him making his way through the throng to reach me, and taking my hand, I hear him say: “Welcome home at last. I have been watching over you for decades. And my presence was real during your times of anguish, and I’ve been waiting for this moment finally to meet you. We have so much to discuss, and an eternity to catch up.”

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when feeling alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone. 

 

Morning Coffee with Joseph Mallord William Turner

August 26, 2018

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A Relaxing Morning in a Remote Place

With dark shadows cast across the lives of his family and friends, the compulsion that drove Turner to paint hardened into something closer to insularity. Turner’s own career was marching forwards. He reduced his exposure to domestic life to its most basic function, the environment in which he slept, or ate, otherwise keeping it distinct from the professional life that so engrossed him.

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

My intention was to spend the day in the country. And I did indeed spend most of the morning on the porch of this special place, enjoying my coffee, quality reading, and a magnificent spread of land under the east Texas sunny skies. Some events arose, however, that made it necessary for me to return to the gallery, and that is why I am able to post this blog after all (I do enjoy being off the grid when I go to this special retreat, however).

So, before I return to the wilderness, let me write a few quick words about the wonders of this Turner biography that I am reading. In 1794, Turner made a plein air watercolor tour that led him to “experiment with an emotive and dramatic response to scenery.” As I read these portions describing how he stepped into that experimental stage of painting romantic landscapes that would eventually help shift the French painters to Impressionism, my heart was stirred by a recent experience in Colorado. Having come to a dissatisfaction with how I rendered trees in watercolor, I spent a day throwing caution to the wind, using pigments I seldom use, and allowing for a great deal of spontaneity and chance by working with wet paper and unconventional tools. This ushered me into a new era, and I wish next to do some plein air sketches of landscape, applying some new techniques learned from another artist friend. It won’t be long before the fall foliage begins to emerge, and I want to be ready to try some things never tried before.

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A Recent Experimental Sketch

Since high school, I have been amazed with Turner’s atmospheric techniques, even more than those of the French Impressionists. I am now hoping with the reading of this biography to learn more of his approach to paintings. I read somewhere that he created some 19,000 watercolors in his lifetime. If that is accurate, then I have new incentive to generate more pieces.

The afternoon is growing late, and I have quite a drive ahead of me to get back into the country.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.