Posts Tagged ‘Turvey’s Corner’

Requiem for the Fourth

June 24, 2019

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Requiem for the Fourth (Still in Progress)

He tasted the dry dust as he walked along the Historic Route 66 thoroughfare, the hot August winds bending the roadside weeds. After twenty years away, he had resolved to return to Turvey’s Corner to see what remained. What he hadn’t anticipated was his truck breaking down more than ten miles from the town he longed to see. Rounding yet another bend in the road and looking up at the weed-choked hill on his left, he felt his heart sink as he gazed upon what remained of the combination fireworks and souvenir shop. In the 1950’s, this established was one of the major draws for tourists crossing America via Route 66. Interstate 44 had managed to strangle and kill the few remaining businesses on old 66. 

Pausing in silence, he felt a sense of loss as he gazed upon this relic barely peeking over the heads of the dancing weeds. But as he lingered, he slowly sensed a presence as he recalled the sounds that used to reverberate from this site. Station wagons would pull into the parking lot and children squealing with ecstasy would leap out of the car to rush inside and explore. Later they would re-emerge, their arms laden with moccasins, beaded necklaces and tomahawks.

During the Fourth of July season, he recalled the scenes of fathers pulling up in their cars on their way home from work. Though tired from their labors, they seemed to reignite with fresh energy as they went inside to fill grocery sacks with Roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers and sparklers to take home to anticipating children.

The conflicting emotions of loss and presence flooded the man’s soul as he trudged past this scene on his way to the town he once knew.

.  .  .  .  .

I am nearing completion of my fourth painting in the new series Turvey’s Corner 63050.  For years I have looked for a vintage roadside fruit stand to include in my new project, but all I seem to find are new structures. Meanwhile I decided to go ahead and paint this derelict structure that I have passed by for years in southwest Missouri along Interstate 44 en route to St. Louis to visit my folks.

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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Thoughts on a Rainy Sunday Morning

June 16, 2019

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Early Sunday Morning (still in progress)

The sight of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church tightened the heart of the young divinity student when he turned the corner onto Queen Street. The early Sunday morning stroll had been the first relaxing moment he felt since his return to Turvey’s Corner for a semester break visit. The looming façade brought into his memory a passage he had recently translated from his Greek New Testament:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

During his teenage years, the fellow had “surrendered to the ministry” (the congregation’s description of his decision). Under the close watch of the Divinity School, he pursued with delight the serious exposition of the scriptures, and when he came across this passage, he felt his entire life turning smoothly as if on a hinge. The first eighteen years of his life had been given to pursuit of the arts, because it was discovered that he had a talent for drawing as soon as he was old enough to hold a pencil. But at age eighteen, he departed from the arts and pursued theology, believing that he should live a life of service to others rather than the pursuit of beauty.

When he translated the Ephesians passage, he discovered that the word rendered “workmanship” was poiēma, from which we take our word “poem.” We are God’s poem, he mused. Pursuing the Greek construction, he discovered to his amazement that “poem” is better translated “work of art.” We are God’s work of art. The text urges that we are God’s work of art, and we have been created for the purpose of quality work, and God determined beforehand that we should pursue that work.

The goals of pastoral ministry evaporated like the fresh dew on a summer morning as the young man suddenly determined that his natural, inborn talent lay in making art. During this Sunday morning walk, his mind was flooded with ideas and questions revolving around how he could merge his inborn artistic gift with the recent years of theological scholarship.

Mass would be starting in about ten minutes. He decided he would continue to pursue his own worship as he sauntered around the sleepy town. A rich Sunday morning was dawning.

. . . . .

I have begun work on the next installment of my Turvey’s Corner 63050 series. The actual setting above is a view of The Redlands Hotel (The Gallery at Redlands is on the first floor just inside the entrance shown). Across the street is the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church that I have already painted four times. I have decided to include this city block in my fictional Turvey’s Corner series, and with it I am introducing a new character. The above story is a first draft that I hope to polish considerably over time.

Thunderstorms are pounding east Texas as I write this, and the Palestine skies are extremely dark and heavy. I stepped out once to run an errand and regretted it as I got soaked to the skin. This is a perfect day for staying inside to paint and read.

I am also very proud to announce that a dear friend and artist/colleague I have known for over twenty years, Cindy Thomas, has decided to make a video documentary of my work. The Turvey’s Corner 63050 series will be included in the presentation, and we will be filming from my home studio, our Gallery at Redlands, and the remote country store location in east Texas where I escape from time to time to work on my art. This will be a long-term project, and we shall keep you posted as it progresses.

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One Happy Cluster of Athletes!

For days I have debated over whether or not to include this in my blog. I try to present myself as artist, thinker, writer, etc., but I feel compelled now to reveal that I am a St. Louis native, and that the St. Louis Blues became a franchise fifty-two years ago, when I was a high school freshman. I watched them enter the Stanley Cup Finals their first three seasons in existence and not win a single game–swept all three times, Then, for forty-nine more seasons they seemed to be a team built for the playoffs but not a championship. They made the playoffs twenty-five consecutive seasons, only to be eliminated in the first or second round. But every year I continued to watch, and believe.

On January 3 this year, midway through the season, the Blues were dead last in the NHL–anchored solidly in thirty-first place. Their coach had been fired and an assistant coach promoted as interim head coach. After January 3, they began to win. They made the playoffs as the third seed in their division. And then they began the four rounds of playoffs, each one a best-of-seven series. Sixteen wins were required to bring a Stanley Cup to their city for the first time in their fifty-two year history.

What I watched this time was the most amazing playoff series in my entire life. From my perspective, the Blues were less skilled than all four opponents they faced–Winnepeg, Dallas, San Jose and Boston. In every matchup, the Blues were slower and possessed fewer quality goal scorers. Some of their losses were the most humiliating lop-sided blow-outs on the scoreboard. Yet they proved resilient, almost never losing two consecutive games. After every loss, they regrouped and returned, eliminating Winnipeg in six games, Dallas in seven, San Jose in six, and ultimately Boston in seven. In every best-of-seven series, the Blues played hard-nosed, blue-collar style hockey, their MVP and leading scorer revealing after it was all over that he was playing with fractured ribs from the very first series.

I have enjoyed every St. Louis Cardinals World Series championship. And I felt something special when the St. Louis Rams won the Super Bowl (but that team, especially its owner, can rot in hell now, as far as I am concerned). What I am feeling this morning with this St. Louis Blues championship I will never be able to describe. Fifty-two years the city languished as the team pushed for that accomplishment. And now they raise the Cup. And though several days have passed since that historic night, I am still vibrating from the memories.

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.

. . . and the Blues are the Stanley Cup Champions!!!!!

 

Jerry’s Texaco

June 9, 2019

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Jerry’s Texaco

Over-worked and under-rested, the aging men of Turvey’s Corner began their early-morning drive to St. Louis, twenty-seven miles east on Highway 30. Around the first bend of the highway out of town, they found a welcoming stop at Jerry’s Texaco. The bell cables clanged as the sedans rolled up to the gas pumps, and Steve, the young attendant, pushed aside his college books to hustle out and service the vehicles. The aroma of coffee brewing inside usually lured the men out of their cars and inside for caffeine stimulation and the exchange of local news stories. Visits here always seemed to make the workday go a little better.

Six Subjects in Search of a Painter

Six Subjects in Search of a Painter

Steve was up late again, bedding down in the storeroom of the old filling station.  He had closed the place at dusk after the last of the Turvey’s Corner work force drifted in and out, their work in the city done for another day. Steve himself could have called it a day but was too engrossed in his college studies to pack up the books and head for his garage apartment in the next county. So, with the owner’s permission, he would spend another night in the back storeroom where he kept his cot, amidst the smells of gasoline, oil, pit grease and the grime that had built up over two generations. The Texaco station was anchored on the first bend of the highway out of Turvey’s Corner. Interstate commerce had all but obliterated this sleepy town, and as soon as this young man graduated from the community college, he would depart as well. The local townspeople and patrons had no knowledge or regard for the things that stirred the soul of Steve. In their eyes, his purpose in life was to pump the gas, check the oil and keep the coffee pouring. But beyond the daily work of the station, Steve’s volumes of Thoreau, Frost, Whitman and Twain had opened to him worlds beyond this community. And his few camping possessions stored in this back room (Griswold frying pan, stove top percolator, kerosene lantern, Maxwell House tin) were the tether that kept him bound to the wild. He would be packing up his gear in a week and leaving without notice. It was time to emerge from this cocoon and embrace the world that was calling out to him.

. . . . .

Unable to sleep tonight, I decided to write a piece to go with my recent gas station painting, then revise the earlier segment I had written to accompany the still life painting. I’m in the mood tonight to put some more pieces in place for my Turvey’s Corner series.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog, reminding myself I am never alone.

 

Rolling Out a New Series

May 30, 2019

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Turvey’s Corner 63050 (First in a New Series)

Leaning into the polar winds that snapped through the narrow valley of the sleeping Missouri town, Denzil Tucker emerged from the Terra Lounge bar with his snow shovel. Frigid overnight winds had hardened the drifts across the walkway. As he bent to his task, the piercing cacophonous whistle from the Frisco Railroad F9 diesel signaled its approach to the crossing, half a block from the tavern, and Denzil felt beneath his boots the vibrations of the thundering freight cars as they rolled by.

Turning his head, he looked back up the empty street to regather his thoughts. It was a sixteen-degree December morning in Turvey’s Corner, and his mind was numb to the possibilities of anything memorable happening on this particular day. The Korean Conflict was two years behind him, the 38th parallel over 7,000 miles away. But his first-born son, not yet a year old, was slumbering in a dark bedroom on the second story above, and these thoughts offered him a measure of serenity in the face of the frozen morning. 

*********

My blog has been silent for several weeks, not due to writer’s or painter’s block, but because of days spent in the studio painting and at the desk researching and writing. Since the early 1990’s, I have had this compulsion to paint a series of watercolors illustrating the quintessential American town.  My inspiration has been the literary contributions of Garrison Keillor, Thornton Wilder, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, Edgar Lee Masters, William Faulkner and others. In addition to the paintings, I have sought to develop a cast of characters with their own stories, hoping to come up with my own work combining painting and literature. This project has now spanned nearly three decades, with countless paintings done and just as many stories written. Now that I have begun chipping away at my memoir, I have decided to pull together these fragments from years gone by, and contribute new paintings and stories to the growing collection. Back in March, I held my first gallery talk on “Art in Small Town America” and announced to that audience my intentions for this project.

My town is named Turvey’s Corner, and the zip code falls between two Missouri towns that shaped my upbringing–High Ridge 63049 and House Springs 63051. The painting above is taken from a forgotten corner of lower House Springs, where Highway MM intersects with a recently altered old Highway 30. Over the years I have photographed this row of buildings in all seasons of the year and decided this time to focus on one of my winter compositions.

The narrative for this collection of paintings is loosely constructed from my personal life experience, the man shoveling snow above is my father (with a fake name). The Korean conflict is true, and I am the infant sleeping upstairs. The year is 1954. My father was never a tavern owner, but I thought that story would yield more character than his work as a mechanic for St. Louis car dealerships. I’m still fleshing out the details, and deeply enjoying the work as it unfolds.

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.