Thursday, April 29, 2010

El Polvo



It was windy today in Redford. Which lives up to the spanish name it was given, "Polvo", meaning dust; getting real hot and dry, too. I had hoped to get out and work on some new landscape paintings but only got as far as drilling the brace holes in the stretchers, they help keep the picture on the field easel.

Instead, this afternoon, I took my bike and "Coyote Cheggs Reincarnate" (the new local dog whose been hanging out and following around) out to the Rio Grande levy to do some recon. I wanted to see for myself how badly the breeches were in the levy system here. See just exactly what was keeping this place from really living again. It was bad. Aside from one gapping hole
where the river penetrates into farmland completely, there was at least a mile of levy area that was shotgunned with holes. Bad shame, this place green with farms and functioning properly would be a real paradise. I'm sure there is something can be done.
This last piece was an interesting find, but Coyote Cheggs wasn't too interested.
He doesn't seem too interested in anything other than following me around. Guess he knows something I don't. Headed out of here soon, Keep up on the highway.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back in Redford

What's been going on here at the Redford outpost studio? Well, when I left in February for the Wake the Dead show I didn't recall what a mess I'd left in the studio. It was in complete disarray when I got back, a normal studio symptom, so I spent the first couple days doing some spring cleaning and reorganizing. Once that was through I needed to reaccess where I was with work. What projects I need to finish off, and what new works I want to approach. During the two months I was away, I was continuosly reflecting on the work I had made out here last year and the work I felt good about progressing.

First off are my video documented art burial performances. I got these going right away last summer as an attempt to reach the viewer through the experience of the hunt, or discovering a treasure in a rugged environment. My intent is to parallel the experience of the artist into the void of discoving art with that of a viewer literally experiencing a voided or unknown landscape to discover art. Over the last four years I developed and researched how such an endevor could be achieved properly, settling upon detailed map information, gps logged coordinates, correct and durable art containers, and lastly, a documented video of the burial itself. I'm going to do more writing on these in the future. They are a huge amount of fun and are a fulfilling experience. There is much ground to cover here in Texas as Big Bend offers two large parks to participate in, and another in Mexico. Here's one of last year's videos for now:



Moving on, I had to get some more landscape panels built. I've decided to double the picture plane and reveal more of a panoramic view of this mountainscape region. Leaping Lizard Gallery in Terlingua has been showcasing a few of the landscapes from last year. I like the challenge of painting on site, the harsh conditions can speed up the process of delivering a picture, insert a few unexpected accidents, and gives me something to use oil paints on. Not to mention, it's one of the best ways to broaden the possibilities of color.



Lastly for this post, are a couple of acrylic cattle I needed to finish off. I left one alone, and reworked the other all while building up frames for both of them. They are the product of an interior studio campaign involving acrylic languages. I'm intending on pushing them forward into paintings done for prized cattle and rodeo bulls. I got my first commission piece for Benita, The Field Lab Longhorn, courtesy of John Wells. I'm looking forward to getting that started soon. For now I've got to travel back into civilization, stopping by the George Paul Memorial Bad Company Rodeo in Del Rio. Talk to you soon.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Field Lab

Next on my trip out for the month of March and April was on the way back into Big Bend. I stopped by for a visit in Terlingua Texas to meet with a local friend by the name of John Wells. John is an interesting character with a good conservative story to tell. He moved out to Terlingua a few years back and set up for himself a lifestyle lived "off the grid". Just a few miles off Texas Highway 118, you'll find his place settled in behind Packsaddle Mountain. Experiencing John's Field Lab was something I recall out of a movie, remniscent of the magician who goes to meet Tesla in the movie title "The Prestige". In fact, John's whole existence out in the middle of the desert is supported completely by renewable energy. And, seemily, on any day of the week you can find him out there working on some mysterious invention built and designed by him to harness these resources for everyday life. He gave me a tour of his multiple projects which included fresh water re-supply and direction, or harvesting rain and creek water, solar panel and wind energy arrays for electrical supply, solar bakery and ovens, a large green house and secondary quarters, even an insulated box cooler run the old fashioned way for cold beer storage.



The primary purpose for the visit was scheduled to be a mingling with the locals out at John's place, locals being a herd of Longhorn cattle. Throughout the afternoon the herd stayed a mile or so away from the field lab, grazing and moving about like spots of color on the desert in a stop-film annimated movie. Over John's time out at The Field Lab, he has become acquainted closely with a twentytwo year old Longhorn cow he's affectionatly named Benita. The owner of Benita, a local rancher, deeded the cow over to John as a gift on his last birthday, which is where I come in. John has commissioned me to paint a portrait of his favored Field Lab side-kick, and being a Texas painter of subjects such as cattle, a true Texas longhorn is just the sort of undertaking I've been looking for.

The afternoon passed by and by, yet no longhorns made their way toward a field lab visit. It wasn't till the evening, on the way out that John coersed them near the pickups with some sweet pellet food. Longhorns came from all around, circling, moaning, calling out long hellos to their bearded friend. I nelt down near a pile of pellets just off the road and calmly studied and photographed these massive creatures, swarming around me like schools of fish near a reef in the sea, their long pointed horns spaning distances of four and five feet, eyes watching me closely for guarantee of trust. I was almost able to feed from hand the bull of the bunch, Otis, as John refers, whom was also a target of study, but wiley and elusive, as most bulls are.

After a half hour of mingling with Otis, Benitas daughter, Carmela, and the rest of the group we moved on down the road as Benita herself was still a no show. We stopped at a point in the road where we could see another group of Longhorns off in the distance. John bellowed out a few calls, "Benitaaaaa". We waited, but still nothing. About the time we were going to call off the search, Benita shown herself in the distance. Making her slow conservative path through the desert she shown the enthusiasm of a lost dog who'd once again found her loving master. Shortly she approached, smiling all the way to sweet pellet rewards, ear and head scratches. I could see the twentytwo seasons marked on the condition of her horns, in the slow graceful patience of her chew, back and forth, like an old farmer with his tobacco, watching the sun go down. I'm glad we waited around, and she decided to grace us with her presence, the personal exchange made the importance of an accurate portrayal all the more important. All in all, the Field Lab experience was a well rounded one, my full gratitude and thanks are extended to John Wells and Benita for having me out, and showing me around.



Click title for a direct link to John's Field Lab blog

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Click the Title to Meet:

The thing about the highway, is your always crossing paths with people at random; few stand out. About a week ago I went out with my brothers to a bar in Bandera to visit together. I had felt, earlier on the drive over from Hondo, a little down about going because there was a minor situation regarding my mother and a hospital the day before. She's ok, but I felt off about going that Friday night. I didn't drink anything for the first couple hours, feeling a recent need to break from the pressures of the norm and experience that sort of scene without the use of alcohol. It was rather enjoyable, as I was able to restrain my depth of thought and maintain conversations with everyone and actually have something viablely positive to respond with. I enjoyed it so much in fact, that I fell off the wagon and approached the bar to purchase a beer. While waiting patiently, contemplating my reason for being there, I shared brief eye contact and a smile with a young woman wearing a blue top and skirt. Her eyes were dark and I remember her smile. I thought as I collected my beer from the barkeep, Maybe I should stay sober in bars more often, it's not usual for pretty girls to smile at me there. No alcohol, equals no loss of composure.
Sitting at the long table, drinking there with my brothers and three Canadian couples to my left, I watched as various people danced throughout, this way and that, my thoughts lost into their interactions and movements, calculated, but caotic. The sound of the band and the conversations of the entire room filling into my head for a moment, absorbing space to the point of subconcious awareness, where the mind doubles itself. I had many hundreds of days like that behind the wheel of a machine. Then, out of the blue dropped this face again into my view, smiling, eye contact, she set a beer down in front of me, with a red cheek turn she walked away. "Ohhhhh", to the surprise of my six family kin sitting there with smiles and evil grins, cheering me on as if I had done something great, as if by some means I had tilted the axis of the earth. I didn't have anything to do with it, it was her, I thought. Although, to my best recollection, I don't remember a good looking stranger ever buying me a beer, nope, not ever. I was flattered.
The night continued until around 11:00 at which time my company decided it was time to move on, back to the house. This was the moment of truth, I could just leave with no response but that would've been weak and ungentlemanlike, so I moved forward to meet and speak to the young and bright, Shelley Adelle.



With my younger brother as a trusted and dependable wingman, we chatted and mingled amongnst another group of strangers for a half hour or more. Moving out to the patio I learned that Shelley had lived in New York for ten years and studied acting and dance. Also, she had become a personal instructor for yoga, but after a decade in the city she fled to the beaches of Florida to decompress. Finding no rest there, as beaches appearantly are a favorite location for yoga enthusiasts, she informed me that she was taking a month long vacation of semi-unplanned adventure to reconnect her spirit, beginning with her orgins in Texas.
As it were, that evening, she had stumbled into a Texas nomad whose aim in life was a legacy left in art. Hearing of her quest for adventure, I informed her that I was on my way back out to Redford and The Big Bend. I explained to her that my artistic quest had led me first to my orgins on the Texas prairie and then to the Chihuahuan desert region of Presidio County, establishing a series of work spaces in both places. The talked moved on and was a delight, and before the sun set on the evening of the next day we were both in the truck and headed West on Highway 90.



I learned a lot from the few days I traveled with this free spirit. Moreover, I was energized by her ability to step in from an outside perspective and give me insight on how to cope with things out of my control. Not only in dealing with letting go of hardships, but her offering of insightful approaches toward positive sustainability. All in all, she offered nothing but help. It was greatly appreciated. It's easy to get worked up over little details, but simple to let go of; generally, it's just three deep breaths away. Many in this life will hender your dreams with luggage and conversation about how "you can't", and how "it's too much work". None of that talk applied to the people of where I come from. But, they are of great abundance out in the world, especially in art. It was good to experience the spontaneous flow of time with one who is an overcomer of adverse things. I had much fun on Terlingua Porch, thanks Shelly. You are indeed great at what you do, keep it up.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Slinging Cotton Candy at the Carnival

So, about a month ago, just after the show at Wake the Dead in San Marcos, I was on the look out for some work to help me continue my art pursuit. I talked to a great friend of mine whose inlaws have stock in The Mighty Thomas Carnival. They travel from south to north every year much like a wheat harvesting crew, going from town to town, county to county, zig-zagging here and there for about nine months out of each year, entertaining the quiet folks from all over. What began as a phone call to see one another and visit quickly turned into a "would you like to help us out for a bit?" You see, my friend tore his achillies heel in a basketball scrimage last year and he was getting around fairly well as a "Hop-along Cassidy". I was more than greatful, the bonus was getting to hang out with him and his family for an extended period of time, which helped me decompress from some of the let downs I'd experienced in the desert and with the art show.
First off, they flew me to Michigan to pickup a new truck they had purchased for their business. It's a stretched Freightliner conventional with a twentytwo foot box on the back, used by frieght carriers as an expedited delivery wagon, overnight type of transport vehicle. My friends intended to convert it into a stock truck to carry around supplies they need for their "Candy Land" and "Sweet Spot", which are the names of the refreshment trailers they use at the carnival. It was a good trip, especially since I was thinking about returning to the highway to refinance my art ambitions. It gave me fifteen hundred miles of contemplation and diesel engine to remember that going back out over-the-road was not a heavily favored option. I didn't mind the sound of the whinning turbo engine, that whistle of void made when frieght is in pull, but what made me crenge was the time buckled to that seat, the miles one by one, endless. Reminded me of the time I was playing too rowdy in the house as a young boy, but carried away and having fun at it, and my mother pulled me away and made me sit still at the kitchen table for five minutes. I thought those five minutes would never pass so I could get back to the action. They still linger in the backwater of my mind somewhere.

After Easter weekend in South Austin, I helped them move some things up to Burnet and they recruited me to work in their secondary "popper", which is the machine they trailer around to distribute cotton candy, candied apples, carmel apples, popcorn and fountain drinks. I watched the airshow and walked around for awhile during the Bluebonnet Festival. All in all it was more than I expected. Not to mention that their patronage and favor toward me helped ease my tensions. You've kept by boat a-float, thanks Brandon and Kat.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22, 2010.

Tonight I sit here, in Redford, as it were I'm back again, thinking about this ride I'm on in life. My last post was left in Hondo Texas, and to tell the truth, I wasn't exactly optimistic about everything as i ran into March of this year. I guess the studio does that, after awhile, work cuts me off from the world and months go by, whilest explaining my version of it, then bang I get reminded that there's this system I'm expected to participate in. Humanity. I don't always have a positive glass to see the world through, but I do have one, in fact, I have two. Anyhow, I think where I'm going with this is a statement made towards the notion that when everything seems to be coming to complete failure, well, that's the best time for miracles to step in, turn the tides and flip the switch on for hope. I guess I like running this extreme lifestyle. It's a lot of work and responsibility setting life up for it though, and to make it as far as I have and still desire it, well, maybe thats luck or destiny or something...devine. But the point I make sitting here tonight, is, Experiencing life's empty cup is one of the greatest blessings; Because I forget about how life is when the cup's full. Which makes the filling of it back up again, greater each time.

I'm gonna fill in whats happened in the last couple of weeks or month or whatever it's been. tell about the stories I have had on the road. Interesting refills.

see you later,

Justin

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