Posts Tagged ‘The Gallery at Redlands’

When the Muse stirs . . .

March 20, 2019

20190320_0630298100028421928167096.jpg

My Study in the Pre-Dawn Hours

The compensation of growing old was simply this; that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained—at last!—the power which adds the supreme flavor to existence,-the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it round, slowly, in the light.

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Rising at 4:40 this morning was not my plan. But when the muse stirs, we have no choice but to respond. Several weeks ago, we decided to launch our first gallery talk in Palestine, Texas, as a part of kicking off the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival. I have chosen the topic “Art in the Small Town.” I will use the art I have created over the past twenty years, along with selections from American artists who featured the small town genre. American writers will also be woven into the narrative as they spun their novels, short stories and poetry around this nostalgic subject. These ideas have been coursing through my veins the past several weeks, and pages of notes and drafts have been stacking on my desk, stuffing my briefcase and swelling my journal. Finally, this morning in the pre-dawn, the tumblers began to fall into place and I sprang out of bed to power up the laptop and record the sensations as quickly as I could. I am only taking a break from the writing to let my readers know what is going on. For anyone who follows me on Facebook, I launched the event page describing the event a few hours ago. Already I am getting a response, and that is gratifying. For years I have ached to take part in this kind of forum.

My reading from the biography of N. C. Wyeth is stirring my soul like seldom before. The young Wyeth realized in art school that he needed an education to grow his character, not just hone his artistic skills.  In retrospect, I feel that sentiment profoundly. Throughout my younger school days, I was immature, a dreamer, intellectually lazy. I had skills as an artist and worked hard at them. But when I entered the university, I came to rely only on my talent in the art studio, while at the same time growing an intellectual appetite in the general university studies. I failed to put the two together. As I proceeded next through my seminary years, I turned to religion, philosophy and literature. Many years later, after taking a job in the public schools, did I return to my art, and then discovered a depth I never had before. Ideas and deep sentiments had been grafted on to my mechanical skills. I had a feeling for expression and composition.

Since about 1990, I began pursuing this idea of creating a body of work nostalgic in nature. I learned from my seminary Greek studies that “nostalgia” is a Greek word found in the Homeric epics, describing the feelings of Odysseus as he longs to return to his home. My home town of High Ridge, Missouri, along with small towns where I pastored churches in my earlier years, managed to plant images, stories and sentiments that I have longed to express in drawing and watercolor. In 1999, I decided to launch a series called “My Town”, inspired by Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. As he created his Grover’s Corners, so I also created Turvey’s Corner, and created this painting:

20190204_0939313454915399355711484.jpg

Along with a phony zip code: 63050 (High Ridge is 63049, and the next town four miles away, House Springs, is 63051), I began creating paintings and writing cycles of short stories to flesh out this fictitious town of my imagination, spawned by my memories. I lanched my show in Hillsboro, Texas at the newly-opened Stairwell Fine Arts Gallery, and the painting above sold at the opening reception. So did two others. A few weeks later, a Florida collector passed through the gallery and purchased the remainder of the portfolio. And then, my story just stopped . . .

About a month ago, while reading Larry McMurtry’s Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections on Sixty and Beyond, all my feelings from 1999 came tumbling back in on my consciousness. That, along with the writing of my memoir, thanks to Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, convinced me to pick up this old project, dust off the cobwebs, and renew the vision. So . . . I have been working on a new series of paintings and writings, and this Saturday look forward to sharing this vision in the gallery talk.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Advertisements

Quiet Moments in the Gallery at Redlands

March 18, 2019

An artist learns by repeated trial and error, by an almost moral instinct, to avoid the merely or the confusingly decorative, . . . to say what he has to say with the most direct and economical means, to be true to his objects, to his materials, to his technique, and hence, by a correlated miracle, to himself.

Irwin Edman, Arts and the Man

20190318_0902263371532842886606641.jpg

20190318_0901273424295657495473659.jpg

8 x 10″ watercolor sketch in white 11 x 14″ mat–$75

Yesterday (Sunday) was one of those quiet lovely days spent mostly in The Gallery at Redlands. I managed to squeeze out a new painting (above) during those luxurious hours. The historic Redlands Hotel on 400 N. Queen Street in downtown Palestine, Texas is the most lovely place I have ever been privileged to “nest.” Emerson, in his small book Nature, wrote: “in the woods, too, a man casts off his years as the snake his slough and at what period soever of life is always a child”. This is what I experience when I have those moments of walking about in the wild, but I also feel it every time I enter the first floor of the Redlands Hotel. We celebrated the hotel’s 104th birthday on Friday, March 15:

20190315_1316572183011628871552992.jpg

Jean Mollard, owner of The Redlands Hotel

20190318_0946244851037770589998751.jpg

First Floor of The Redlands

Every time I descend the stairs of The Redlands, I feel that I am supposed to be smoking a large cigar, my clothing including a vest, watch chain and spats. The space is a veritable museum with a pulse. We anticipate a steady flow of traffic next weekend when the 81st annual Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival commences.

20190318_094950-13528919100682591488.jpg

Station Manager Kevin Harris, Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

20190318_094954-15456136688030113464.jpg

Marc Mitchell (foreground) from “Kevin & Marc in the Morning” Show

Radio Guest Kirk Davis in background

It is now Monday morning, and the hotel is everything but silent. The “Kevin & Marc in the Morning” show, as always, keeps me great company while broadcasting out of this gallery. This morning they featured local artist/writer Kirk Davis who has just come out with a book sharing letters from World War II between his father and mother. His father, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, has left behind a romantic legacy embracing the love of his life as well as his drama in the Pacific theater. Kirk will be under the tent with a number of artists this coming Friday night’s V.I.P. event as well as Saturday 9-4:00, signing copies of his new book and displaying his father’s war memorabilia (including the Medal of Honor) along with his own artistic creations.

When I close this blog, I’ll be preparing for our big events next weekend. In addition to the Friday night V.I.P. party and the Saturday Dogwood Trails Art & Music Festival, I will be giving my first ever gallery talk on the subject of “Art in the Small Town.” Using a flat screen TV in the Redlands Hotel lobby, I will be showing images of my “Recollections 54” paintings over the past twenty years that feature small town nostalgic scenes. I have a talk prepared that will feature those who have inspired my own work, notably Edward Hopper’s narrative paintings, along with references from selected American writers who have contributed to our collective memories of the communities that have nurtured us. I am enthusiastic about this event, and thank Jean Mollard for her vision of sponsoring a series of gallery talks for the east Texas community.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

The Bowery Bum

March 17, 2019

Why, I just shake the buildings out of my sleeves.

Frank Lloyd Wright

20190317_1233558364552528186125456.jpg

8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Archer City–$75 in white 11 x 14″ mat

20190317_1250436180998740226127641.jpg

8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Missouri snow scene–$60 in white 11 x 14″ mat

20190317_1312363410537535150207311.jpg

8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Palo Duro Canyon–$80 in white 11 x 14″ mat

20190317_1321567914308570594142669.jpg

8 x 10″ watercolor sketch of Missouri snow scene–$50 in white 11 x 14″ mat

Years ago, at the close of a state convention (the Texas Council of Teachers of English), several of us were sitting in the Dallas convention hotel lobby. I was in my second year of teaching, and felt energized after two days of sessions. As we sat in silence, soaking the afterglow of the event, one of the “more seasoned” teachers remarked: “At the close of these things, I often feel like a Bowery bum with an empty bottle.” We all laughed at the brilliant, poetic analogy, and I then wondered to myself: “Will I one day know that kind of weariness?” What a dumb question, I now realize three decades later.

The past forty-eight hours were the kind that used to energize me, but now I know the sentiments of that seasoned English teacher. For a few weeks, we advertised a beginning watercolor workshop that I would hold in the lobby of our Redlands Hotel. We decided we would limit the session to twenty applicants, but before we knew it, twenty-eight had thrown hats into the ring, so I decided to add a second session immediately following the first. By the time the day arrived, we had nineteen committed to the morning event, and fourteen for the afternoon. Setting up the lobby for the event proved to be exhausting, and I was glad we did that the day before. Nevertheless, the evening before the event, I knocked out a pair of watercolor samples of what we would attempt (and found neither of them satisfactory). Then, at the two workshops, I did a second pair as a live demo, one for each session, and found little satisfaction with both of those. Nevertheless, the participants were enthusiastic beyond description, and today I am still warmed at their remarks and sentiments throughout the day.  I couldn’t have asked for more eager and focused participation, and I can proudly say that the students’ attempts were all better than mine! So I can at least take pride knowing there was quality art created throughout the day.

By the end of the second session, I barely knew my own name, and understood the Bowery bum analogy–I certainly lack the energy I knew in earlier days. Going upstairs to bed (the Redlands Hotel is a beautiful place to reside!), I turned off my phone, vowing to sleep from 9:00 till sometime the following afternoon. But by 8:30 this morning, after waking a dozen times and feeling that it was nearly noon, I decided I had had sufficient rest for the new day. My plan was to do nothing all day but read. That didn’t happen. By the time I had finished my coffee and read about twenty more pages from the N. C. Wyeth biography, the itch returned to go back downstairs and open the gallery.

Once inside the gallery, I matted and sleeved five watercolors that needed presenting–four of them completed over the past couple of weeks (No, I will not mat the four demos I worked on the past couple of days!). The N. C. Wyeth biography, along with the affirming remarks I heard all day yesterday among the workshop participants, inspired me to go to work on a fifth attempt of what we painted in yesterday’s workshop and see if I can turn out a decent painting of the subject. I posted the Frank Lloyd Wright quote above, because when I crank out several paintings at a time I am reminded of how prolific he was as an architect late in life, and hope that I will be able to keep up that kind of production and enthusiasm.

It is Sunday, and I expected to see no one in the gallery today. Sundays are very quiet in downtown Palestine, and the weather is gorgeous today, inviting people to flock to the lake. But surprisingly, in the first 45 minutes, three people have already come in to browse and chat, so I guess I figured that one wrong.

At any rate, it feels great to be painting again, and if I can turn out a decent effort this time, I’ll post it for you to see.

Thanks for reading.

I make art to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

The Search for an Anchor

March 13, 2019

20190313_0911412677010465404670223.jpg

A Second Snow Scene in Progress

            He kept trying to find among his peers the degree of emotional intensity he had achieved with Howard Pile. “It is the search for living co-workers and the everlasting failure to find one that can measure up to one’s active standard that is the constant source of my depression,” he wrote.

. . .

            Yet he continually wished Chapin would hold him to higher standards. He wanted to be challenged, not only aesthetically but morally, spiritually. Wyeth’s search for an omnipotent male figure had an Eastern quality; he felt that the ideal master should be something of a mystic.

. . .

            “I’m not crazy,” he insisted to Stimson, though as N. C. began his thirties, his search for a spiritual guru often left him feeling unreal. “I’m not holding a living or dead man up as an example of what I should be; I go beyond that—I want to be myself, and better, to be myself without the whole damn world knowing anything about it!”

            But he was holding up a dead man as his model. Taking Walden as his guide, he contended that Thoreau “is my springhead for almost every move I can make” . . .

            He liked to think that if Thoreau were alive, if they could talk an hour every evening, Thoreau would understand him. With Walden in hand, N. C. could “feel his approval surging within me now, and I lay my hand on his precious book . . . with the deepest reverence I am capable of.”

David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

These quiet winter mornings have recently been a genuine salve for my soul. As I sit over a fresh cup of French-pressed coffee, the aroma filling this dark room and Bach playing softly in the background, I am preparing to launch into yet another small watercolor, allowing the one posted above to sit quietly awhile, waiting to see what next to do with it. Five watercolors are scattered about the room, a couple of them probably finished, the other three sitting there saying, “Well?! . . .” My spirit soars when I sense that my creative blood is stirring once again. When I’m on hiatus, I don’t really want to say I am “blocked”, rather I am reading, journaling, thinking, and musing over what to pursue next.

Having ventured over 200 pages into this N. C. Wyeth biography, I feel a primal connection with much that he expressed in his letters and diaries. Currently, I am reading of his constant quest for a spiritual partner or mentor to complete his personhood. As I reflect over my past, I recognize that he and I both circulated between the living and the dead for role models. And we weren’t really looking for someone to imitate, but rather assimilate, absorb and re-apply to the things we were attempting to do in our own lives. N. C. Wyeth did not want to paint like Howard Pyle; he was trying to find his own style and character in his paintings and illustrations. Pyle was a genuine inspiration and guide for him in his early career, and a sounding board when Wyeth wished to road test his new techniques and compositions.

While writing my own memoir, I am constantly sifting through all the men and women who have been my spiritual guides and sounding boards, and like N. C., I often felt that shock of recognition when reading the works of those who had passed in the centuries before me. Much of what N. C. admired in Thoreau’s writings have also smitten me in the past three decades. And frequently, I think of what it would be like to sit in intimate conversation with a Thoreau, an Emerson or a Tillich. So many times when I read them I feel they are writing directly to me, addressing my current condition. And I revel in these encounters. And then, when I am permitted an intimate conversation with a living being in my present, I count that among the richest gifts in life. Such conversations are rare.

I am just a few days from a monster pair of beginning watercolor workshops. More than thirty have already registered for my Saturday event to be held in the Redlands Hotel lobby in Palestine, Texas. I am trying to limit the 10:00 session to twenty participants. It will last three hours (including lunch) and the fee is $30. Then I will hold a second 1:00 session for two hours (no lunch this time) for $20. I already have four committed to the afternoon session. Twenty-eight are trying to crowd into the 10:00 group, but perhaps some of them would prefer to move to the 1:00. We’ll see. The bottom line is that I am pumped to do this! I absolutely love exploring the wonders of watercolor with willing participants. I anticipate a great time together.

Well, let’s see if we can kick some life into this new fledgling painting . . .

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.

Finishing a Small Snowscape

March 12, 2019

20190312_131916954089260420740108.jpg

Recent View of Fresh-fallen Snow in High Ridge, Missouri

Wyeth had of course pleased everyone but himself. His apprenticeship now appeared to him shallow and degrading. the Pyle School had been nothing more than a factory where successful pictorial journalists had been–his word–manufactured. He and the others had been “whipped into line,” taught artificial shortcuts, trained to think as the audience thinks, not for themselves as artists.

David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth: A Biography

After more than 200 pages of reading, I am finding it very difficult to put down this volume on N. C. Wyeth. His son Andrew has been my patron saint since high school, but in the past year I have been studying more about N. C., and love his fixation on the writings of Emerson and Thoreau. Now, reading of his training as an illustrator, and his subsequent struggle to navigate his way between the identities of illustrator and painter, I am finding so much to think about as I find my own way as an artist.

This morning I finished the painting I started of the view across my sister’s backyard. The snow was falling heavily that day a couple of weeks ago, and I used a toothbrush to spatter masquing fluid all over the page before commencing the actual painting. The ony part I found most difficult (and rewarding) was the attempt to draw the houses and rooftops peeking through the winter trees. It has been awhile since I studied and sketched winter tree anatomy, and I have missed the experience. I have a second snow scene nearly finished as well, and hope to be  posting that one soon.

Between reading, painting, and preparing materials for my pair of workshops this coming Saturday, there has been little down time. Still, I love the life I’m able to pursue, balancing my reading with my studio art endeavors. I hope I can continue to find room and space for both in my daily life.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Nearing the Finish of a Commission

February 2, 2019

20190202_1720437280732245388940703.jpg

. . . some of the words you’ll find within yourself,

the rest some daemon will inspire you to say.

Homer, The Odyssey

While taking breaks from my painting to read from Homer’s Odyssey, I was arrested by these words Athena spoke to Telemachus when he feared that, as a youth, he did not know the proper words with which to address King Nestor. The reference to the daemon reminded me of a book I still haven’t completed reading: Allan Bloom’s The Daemon Knows. In this work, Bloom quotes an obscure reference from one of Emerson’s journals, claiming that the daemon knows where the idea is going to go. Throughout the work, Bloom extols the virtues of intuition and daring to go outside the box. He argues that we don’t know if our efforts will produce a work of genius. Nevertheless, we continue to push, continue to love the work.

I find all of this refreshing when I find myself struggling with a watercolor. With the one in progress above, I have encountered countless problems that I have not been schooled to address, and I have had to remain focused on the task. So far, nothing has happened to upset me, and the patron came in to look at it today and was pleased with the direction it is taking. Her sentiments freed me considerably, so now I am working on it with much more confidence. All the same, however, I still don’t really know what it is that makes a composition “work”, and I continue to feel this concern that I will make the wrong moves and the piece will “miss.” Even at this age, I must learn to trust my instinct and push onward.

This day has been a soothing balm, reading and painting in the gallery and greeting patrons. Soon, I’ll get to listen to my radio friend, Kevin Harris, perform a solo gig here in Palestine. Afterward, I plan to return and work late in the gallery, as the Red Fire Grille stays open late on Saturday night, and sometimes a good number of patrons come into the gallery. And who knows, maybe I’ll finish this painting tonight!

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog, reminding myself I am never alone.

 

 

Odyssean Wanderings

February 2, 2019

20190202_10020796853455804419810.jpg

Time Divided Between Painting and Reading

Why, dear child, what craziness got into your head?

Why bent on rambling over the face of the earth?

Homer, The Odyssey

Saturday morning finds me well-rested, and working in The Gallery at Redlands. My attention moves back and forth between a commissioned watercolor and the reading of Homer’s Odyssey. The reading always seems timely, as this morning I came across the passage of the elderly nurse grieving at the news that Telemachus was about to set sail to distant Sparta and Pylos in search of his father Odysseus. She wonders why he is bent on rambling.

As I am now composing my own memoir, imspired by Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, I acknowledge that I have always been a wanderer at heart, though I managed to hold down the same job for twenty-eight years. Still, I always had the urge to travel, and since retiring, that gift has been offered to me. Having spent a week in west Texas, I made the five-and-a-half hour drive home to spend a few days, and then found myself moving back and forth between Palestine and Arlington (two-hour drive), as I celebrated the birthday of a dear friend in Palestine, returned to Arlington to work as district Spelling Bee pronouncer for my twenty-fifth year, and then come back down to spend the rest of the weekend working in the gallery, my sacred space.

darr

Celebrating Ron Darr’s Birthday at the Red Fire Grille

20190131_0902461990806792220860556.jpg

Gallery at Redlands with Smooth Rock 93.5 FM Broadcasting

The morning after Ron’s birthday celebration, we had fun meeting the Smooth Rock broadcasting team. Kevin and Marc welcomed my friends to the station and visited with them for a long stretch of the morning.  Driving back to Arlington, I rose early the next morning for a Spelling Bee, featuring two competitions that stretched from 8:30-3:30. When it was over, the children were exhausted as was I, and I still had a two-hour drive ahead of me, as I chose to return to The Gallery at Redlands to spend the weekend.

20190201_1527039051666500700307942.jpg

Posing with One of the Champions

20190201_1527493266778394459368971.jpg

Posing with a Co-Champion and his Sister who went Deep into the Competition

Outside, Palestine is dark and overcast–the perfect environment for coffee, books and painting, from my perspective. Tonight, Kevin Harris will be doing a solo acoustic gig at Bishops Barbecue. I look forward to attending that event. In the meantime, I plan to enjoy the Saturday calm in the gallery.

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 and Walt Whitman

November 2, 2018
20181101_1552322535186791480035350.jpg

In The Gallery at Redlands, Working on Whitman Collages & Greeting Cards

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, 
Healthy, free, the world before me, 
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, 
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, 
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, 
Strong and content I travel the open road. 
Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road”
Yesterday, after class, I set off for Palestine to work in my gallery and make preparations for the weekend Genny Wood Art Show & Sale. After the two-hour drive through the country, enjoying the bright sun and 60-degree weather, and filled with the ecstasies of Kerouac’s odyssey, I decided upon reaching Palestine to spend some time outdoors. I had spent too much time the past few weeks chasing deadlines. Finding a park bench beneath an enormous shade tree, I sat in the cool, took a cleansing breath, and opened my volume of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.  Reading Kerouac’s On the Road yesterday prompted me to look up Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” today. He published this poem the year after his Leaves of Grass took flight, and the adrenaline was apparently still surging through his creative consciousness. My heart floods with good sentiments every time I read verses such as this from Whitman’s hand.
After five years of reading rave reviews of his Leaves of Grass (some of which he published anonymously himself!), he felt the time had come to publish a second edition of this collection of poems. There was only one problem–he had reached ebb tide and his creative surge had faltered. Perhaps he was still too young (first edition came out when he was thirty-seven) to realize that creative output is cyclical. At any rate, he was feeling morose and second-guessing whether or not he had genuine talent or was just over-sold with that first edition.
While walking pensively one evening along the seashore, he composed a poem that reflected his sagging sentiments of the time: “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life”–
O baffled, balk’d, bent to the very earth, 
Oppress’d with myself that I have dared to open my mouth, 
Aware now that amid all that blab whose echoes recoil upon me I have not once had the least idea who or what I am, 
But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet untouch’d, untold, altogether unreach’d, 
Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory signs and bows, 
With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have written, 
Pointing in silence to these songs, and then to the sand beneath.
Whitman’s second edition of Leaves of Grass contains a number of troubled verses replete with his second-guessing. As we all know, he got over it eventually. The surge returned, and the collection of twelve poems grew to over five hundred, as he remained prolific throughout his life.
This is why I read so much biography–I want to learn all I can from these creative heroes about the dynamics of creative eros, including those barren times when the winds of inspiration have stilled, and how they addressed the problem.  At this very moment I am tired, exhausted. But not depressed, not panicky. I am confident that quality time for creating will offer itself up to me again, and that I will be ready to answer the bell. But for now, the appointments are joined end-to-end, it is the high season for art festivals and shows, the semester at the university is entering its final stretch run, and there is much demanded from me. I thank God that I am (semi) retired, have my health, and at least don’t have to answer to a Monday-Friday, 40-hour a week job. Life is much better now, and at least I can find the time to sit beneath a shade tree, read, reflect, and think about where I am going next. I have never been happier, even when tired.
Today I am packing up the Gallery to take to the Genny Wood Art Show & Sale at the Bullard First United Methodist Church Family Life Center. Today I will enjoy seeing my artist friends again as we set up, and the show will run all day Saturday. Below are a pair of photos of my booth from last year. I am hoping to make a much better display this year. Among my offerings will be collages of my creative heroes, including Walt Whitman and Jack Kerouac.
20171104_0858153937260652922749530.jpg
20171103_1759283535423662559188486.jpg

Last Year’s Display at the Genny Wood Art Show & Sale

Smooth Rock 93.5 FM is humming along in fine fashion as I write this. I cannot describe how much I enjoy my new “roommates” as they broadcast out of this gallery, looking out their “Window to the World.” The Redlands Hotel is decorating for Christmas and yesterday began bringing decorations into the gallery and studio. The “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” show broadcasts live from 7-10 a.m. Monday through Friday. You can stream it on your computer, and even get the app for your android or I-phone.

20181102_0723391931825523067163925.jpg

“Kevin & Marc in the Morning”–Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

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 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.

20171014_094440

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.

Morning Coffee with Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

October 2, 2018

20181002_0615405576649605294978354.jpg

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).

20181002_073831140664120377525007.jpg

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/

20180930_1048268777024829575845340.jpg

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.