TEXAS HILL COUNTRY FORAY for the ARTS

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At Southern's 37th

KERR ARTS & CULTURAL CENTER, Kerrville, TX, April 1—April 27, 2014 37th Annual Exhibition, Southern Watercolor Society

When I got the news that my painting had been one of 80 paintings selected by Linda Doll, president of the National Watercolor Society, out of close to 500 entries to the Southern Watercolor Society’s 37th Annual Exhibition, we immediately decided we had to visit it in Kerrville. This had become almost a tradition for us with SW, when another painting of mine was picked for the Louisiana show and we went. The Southern Watercolor Society is a large regional consisting of 18 states plus Washington, D.C. I’ve been in several, and am a signature member.

My husband and I got off just a little past 4 a.m. on Friday and headed for Fayetteville Airport–from Fayetteville to Atlanta to Austin, to rental car agency, to road trip. By late lunchtime, we were already in the Texas Hill country, looking at the beautiful Texas Bluebonnets and fields of wildflowers my granddaughter would have loved in between natural limestone walls. We made frequent stops to see interesting sights, seeing names we recognized and those we didn’t, like Whataburger. A main stop was at Johnson City, Lyndon B. Johnson’s childhood hometown where we viewed a museum of his life in short, and hustled on to the LBJ Ranch. That was still in the outskirts of Johnson City by Texas calculations and held the Texas White House, as President Johnson’s home had been dubbed. We added ourselves onto a tour through the house, and tried to imagine heads of state sitting and eating there. While quite nice, it was certainly not pretentious in any way, and the “cabinet meetings” were held out under a stupendously gorgeous live oak.

Of greatest note was the high technology present in every room–three TVs, each tuned simultaneously to a major tv network which LBJ watched continually and phoned the network chief if he heard anything said about him he didn’t like. Evidently we had just missed Obama’s visit for the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Civil Rights Summit that LBJ had passed in 1964. Of note in the 60’s house décor were Lady Bird’s predilections for yellow countertops in the kitchen and landscape wallpaper in the dining room minus any cowboys or cattle.

We rode around the ranch, stopped to look at cactus–it was my first ever visit to Texas–and Bessie and the clumps of cows sitting in the shade of a tree. We visited the Sauer-Beckman Living History Farm, a reproduction of the historic farmstead of pioneers who lived a century ago, where they still make sausage, shear sheep, can, etc. We saw luxurious stretches of LBJ’s Ranch before heading for our Holiday Inn Express for the night at Kerrville, Texas, and a–you guessed it–3-inch steak at the local steakhouse. Our 20-hour day slammed us into bed and sleep.

Next day, bright and early, we headed for the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center in downtown Kerrville which is known for its art and folk festivals. The KACC has hosted NWS and AWS traveling exhibits a number of times. Kerrville has other local arts organizations; Museum of Western Arts, Hill Country Arts Foundation, Symphony of the Hills, Playhouse 2000, plus several galleries.

The gallery was showstopper beautiful, as you can tell from the photos, Crab-Net in its Setting, 37thand we excitedly entered and located Crab-Net, placed spot-on, right between what turned out to be the Silver Medallion Winner and the Gold Medallion Winner. I knew the Silver Medallion winner, Dean Mitchell, the artist to Crab-Net’s left, from picking him up at the airport in Raleigh with Watercolor Society of North Carolina Board Members to take him to one of our shows. I bought his book at the time, which he autographed, and I absolutely love his work, and was honored to hang next to him. From the very outset I noticed what a cohesive show Linda had juried, even though she had included what she later said were “the best paintings from each genre–realistic, abstract, photo-realist, etc.”

The catalogue of all our paintings denoting the winners is yet to be published, so perhaps I will give you a little follow-up, then. The prizes were not announced until the very last at the later reception, and the signs appointed then, and photographs from the official photographer made then. I’m looking forward to seeing the one she made of me next to my love, Crab-Net .

The paintings at this show were “some of the best painters in the U.S. today,” claimed Linda Doll, National Watercolor Society President, the chosen juror for the show at the demonstration before the gallery opening. She shared other comments and remarks about the show. She said that her bias was in favor of creativity and simplicity, that the ones she picked were the ones that when she walked away from them, she could not forget. She said that this show was made up of awesome paintings and was equal in every way to a show from National Watercolor Society or American Watercolor Society, that these paintings were the best of the best.

Linda demonstrated her technique for toning paper, painting a multi-colored grey as a grisaille (an underlayer; see http://joriginals.net/paint-with-unfair-advantage/), and then adding the flesh tones and darker shadows. She uses only three colors–the primaries, of course, but the blue is the printer’s choice of blue, cyan. She has only four values in her paintings–high, local, shade, and shadow. When Linda would finish a passage on a prepared paper, she dropped it on the floor. As an abstract painter, she produced beautiful realistic works. Linda was most informative and I know those who took her week-long course before the show profited greatly, judging from enthusiastic comments from ladies near me.Me with Linda Doll @37th, Angel Light

From the demo I waited on the steps of the Center for my ride, and we joined the attending members of the club to YO Ranch Restaurant and enjoyed another Texas meal where we sat next to North Carolinians, would you believe. Linda Pelc presided over a SW meeting and I promised to look into a venue for the Southern Watercolor for an upcoming year’s show. Linda Pelc also had a painting in the show.

Exhausted, we left the show for the home of my husband’s best friend since early corporate days with SEI, then through IBM years–and his wife, Lynn. We enjoyed a wonderful meal eating delicious Mexican food at a favorite restaurant of theirs, catching up on WWII mementos and  airplanes and other interesting topics. Back at home, David showed us his helmets from all over, and other memorabilia collected at antique sales. I made friends with their shy black kitty who decided she liked pawing at me through the stair banister rails. We slept like babies, were treated like king and queen to a delicious egg and toast and coffee breakfast, walked their acres and fearfully tried to forget scorpions frequented their grounds. We saw the dry creek bed–drought time–and all the various tree houses and retaining walls for water, etc., that David had built with wood and wonderfully prevalent limestone. Almost all the rocks held fossils in them. I took a picture of the painting David and Lynn owned of mine hanging over their chair in the living room.

About mid-day, we said good-byes and headed for my husband’s cousin’s who lived not far away, in Dripping Springs. From there we traveled an hour to meet Donna’s sister Chris at Olive Garden and the cousins caught up and made promises to share photographs. We talked into the evening, but Donna had to work next day, so we sank gratefully into bed and were awakened to loud thunderclaps and pouring rain, one outbreak after another, right up to the moment we had to leave for the airport. Donna had prepared wonderful fruit, awesome blueberry nut bread, coffee and again, we left the hill country sated and happy, the drive to the airport uneventful, the release from a car that wasn’t ours quick, the walk to the airport no sweat, and two jaunts home again, jiggety jog, connections made, seatmates pleasant, debarking painless. I sat next to a serviceman returning to his wife and 8-year-old daughter after a year away and got the opportunity to thank him for what he had done for all of us.

I’ll admit my Tuesday was one of the worst Mondays I’ve ever had, but the memories of my art jog to the Texas Hill Country were worth it, and I’ve been savoring them ever since. Join me at Pinterest to see more photos.

 

 

 

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