Marfa, Texas – One “Giant” Movie, & The Arts

As mentioned previously, Marfa’s claim to fame:

  1. the movie Giant was filmed here
  2. it’s a well-known Arts destination

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Giant (1956) was directed by Hollywood artistic juggernaut George Stevens (who won an Academy Award for Best Director for his work on the film), and earned a total of 9 Academy Nominations for work both behind and in front of the screen. Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean in his last role (and only third film) before his untimely death. Even though the film came out in the 1956, there continues to be a dialogue about this cinemas Classic. There’s been at least two different documentaries: Return To Giant (2003), and Children of Giant (2015). Giant has withstood the test of time, because it dared to be about matters of substance. The film was ahead of its time as it spotlighted racial prejudice and segregation against latinos. One only needs to turn the news on to see how these are still relevant issues today as the nation is indulged in conversations about Mexican Immigrants and DACA.

One of the go to tourists destinations is the restored Hotel Paisano. The Hotel was designed by famed architect Henry Trost in the 1920s. In the 1950s Hollywood came to the Hotel, when the movie Giant was in production. Many of the cast and crew stayed at the hotel, or made use of its amenities. Today there’s some film memorabilia up around the hotel, and there’s a number of small shops (including one that sells Giant film related merchandise), and a gallery attached to the hotel too.

 

Despite being a town of around 2000 residents, Marfa boasts well over a dozen art galleries, the most preeminent Art destination being the Chinati Foundation. While Marfa may feature numerous art galleries plus a number of retail shops specializing in artisan wares. Many of them have limited hours primarily focused to Friday – Sunday. I knew this going to the town, but even so I found half the places I tried to visit closed the Saturday I went. Between vacations, and galleries between installations my luck was not with me.

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Still I managed to make it to Book Marfa, which features a specially curated book store, artisan made goods, as well as a mini art gallery with works for sale. I love their regional book section. Anyone with an interest in ancient art especially of ancient man the book the White Shaman Mural is a must read.

The White Shaman Mural: An Enduring Creation Narrative in the Rock Art of the Lower Pecos by Carolyn E. Boyd, Kim Cox

Winner, Society for American Archarology Book Award, 2017

The prehistoric hunter-gatherers of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of Texas and Coahuila, Mexico, created some of the most spectacularly complex, colorful, extensive, and enduring rock art of the ancient world. Perhaps the greatest of these masterpieces is the White Shaman mural, an intricate painting that spans some twenty-six feet in length and thirteen feet in height on the wall of a shallow cave overlooking the Pecos River. In The White Shaman Mural, Carolyn E. Boyd takes us on a journey of discovery as she builds a convincing case that the mural tells a story of the birth of the sun and the beginning of time—making it possibly the oldest pictorial creation narrative in North America.

Unlike previous scholars who have viewed Pecos rock art as random and indecipherable, Boyd demonstrates that the White Shaman mural was intentionally composed as a visual narrative, using a graphic vocabulary of images to communicate multiple levels of meaning and function. Drawing on twenty-five years of archaeological research and analysis, as well as insights from ethnohistory and art history, Boyd identifies patterns in the imagery that equate, in stunning detail, to the mythologies of Uto-Aztecan-speaking peoples, including the ancient Aztec and the present-day Huichol. This paradigm-shifting identification of core Mesoamerican beliefs in the Pecos rock art reveals that a shared ideological universe was already firmly established among foragers living in the Lower Pecos region as long as four thousand years ago.

I swung by the famous Ballroom Marfa for their installation at the time, and was rather taken by this artists use of electrical current through tobacco to the cooper sheet metal. I think in this case, it brings back fond memories of me working with copper during my metal & jewelry days. There was also an interesting exhibit that tackled political issues of identity as found in language and how various countries were using accents to authentic paperwork and grant or deny admittance to their country for foreigners. I also tried to visit the artisan retail fronts of both Freda,and the Wrong Store but they were also closed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Call me a Monarchist! I just adore this butterfly.

As a long time resident of the Dallas / Fort Worth area I’ve long been aware of a pair of fluttering orange and black wings that are seen during two key times throughout the year: Spring and Fall. The Monarch Butterfly winters in Mexico, but when temperatures rise in the Spring they begin their northern journey into the United States and the Southern most portions of Canada.

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Source: http://www.monarchwatch.org

In Autumn, the butterflies migrate south so they can spend the winter in Mexico.

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Source: http://www.monarchwatch.org

Their Winter nest is so laden with butterflies, it’s as if the trees in lieu of leaves have butterflies instead. Truly it’s a marvel. Scientists estimate that 6 out of every 10 butterflies die from starvation en route due to the loss of native habitat and native wildflowers that produce sustaining nectar. Here’s a short video on how you can help to preserve this annual wonder, plus some amazing photos of the Mexican winter home. Watch it on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuMASSrli9A

There’s even a research site trying to tag and track them to more thoroughly map their migration patterns and routes over at MonarchWatch.org. Thanks to them you can get an idea of their Spring and Fall migration maps as seen above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marfa, Texas – The Chinati Foundation

Marfa may be a city with only a local population of around 2,000 (according to the 2010 Federal Census), but with dozens of art galleries and a film festival the small town certainly packs quite a punch in the Arts world. But Marfa’s iconoclast status as an art destination is due to Donald Judd’s works, and the fosterage of New York’s Dia Art Foundation to help establish the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas on the remains of an old military base. Here’s what they have to say about themselves:

The Chinati Foundation/La Fundación Chinati is a contemporary art museum based upon the ideas of its founder, Donald Judd. The specific intention of Chinati is to preserve and present to the public permanent large-scale installations by a limited number of artists. The emphasis is on works in which art and the surrounding landscape are inextricably linked. As Judd wrote in the foundation’s catalogue:

It takes a great deal of time and thought to install work carefully. This should not always be thrown away. Most art is fragile and some should be placed and never moved again. Somewhere a portion of contemporary art has to exist as an example of what the art and its context were meant to be. Somewhere, just as the platinum-iridium meter guarantees the tape measure, a strict measure must exist for the art of this time and place.

 

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The Chinati Foundation

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2017 IAA’s Photography Exhibition

 

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I just received the news earlier today that one of my photographic works has been selected in the juried 2017 IAA’s Photography Competition. 75 works from 44 different regional photographers will be in the exhibit that runs October 29th – December 1st at the Jaycee Parks Center for the Arts located at 1975 Puritan Drive in Irving, Texas. The Reception & Awards Ceremony will be Sunday, November 5th, from 2-4pm. Admission is free and open to the public.

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Turn Back Time by KC Hulsman

 

The Juror is Mark Thompson, an award-winning photographer, videographer and filmmaker. Mark began his career as a painter before discovering his penchant for digital media, at which point he began making the move from being a full-time painter to full-time professional photographer and videographer. Over the years Mark’s training and experience has touched on a variety of different genres that include everything from commercial & product photography to fine art and even filmmaking. Mark has worked as photographer for such outfits as CBS News, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Deep Ellum Foundation, and the Lyndie Wilkes Advertising Agency (just to name a few), his photography as been shown in art galleries all over North Texas, and he is currently producing his first feature-length documentary film.

 

The preview gallery of all the selected works can be found at the Irving Art Association’s website.

 

 

Stardust & Astrophotography in Southwest Texas

Despite being a bit daunted by the long drive it was from my home base of Dallas / Fort Worth to reach Fort Davis and it’s neighboring city of Marfa, Texas I had been incredibly excited for my trip to McDonald Observatory, and that part of the country for the rare opportunity to be in true Dark Sky area to try my hand at Astrophotography.

If you’re trying to see the stars whether it’s with your own eyes, a telescope or a camera lens, you’ll have the best visibility in areas that are classified as Dark Sky. We just don’t see the stars anymore except the most brightest (like Polaris) from our cities, because we have too much light pollution surrounding us. The light from our urban environment washes out the most distant light from the heavenly bodies around us. Think of it like how your night vision is ruined when you have lights turned on around you.

So much work goes into the preparation for Astrophotography. First it was time to do some research. Thanks to Wikipedia’s entries having elevation information and GPS coordinates of Latitude and Longitude I then plugged that information into the Stellarium APP on the days of my visit to see when and where the Milkyway would be rising and visible. Luckily for me it was going to be visible at that time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (May through August), and I found the hours where I’d have the best opportunity to shoot the Milky Way each night. Once I had the basic information and reference points in the sky I was able to combine that information with my free Sky Maps APP (which shows the night sky), so I could orient myself with nearby celestial objects the day/night of to get my camera pointing the right way.

If you’ve ever seen the meme:

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This is because cameras have in some ways not yet neared the complexity of what our eyes can do. Vision with our eyes and with a camera works under the same base principle in that it requires light to see. Our eyes make complex changes rapidly, a camera lens has to be set up just so. The darker it is the wider the aperture needs to be opened and the longer the shutter speed should be kept open as well to allow the most light to come in. This requires more sophisticated camera equipment that allows you to manually manipulate those settings, and also requires a tripod (otherwise there’s too much camera shake and the images will be blurry). Ideally you also want a lens that can infinity focus as well, and you need to be able to turn off auto-focus and image stabilization.

Because our galaxy, our solar system, and our planet are in constant motion if you leave the shutter speed open too long you begin to get star trails [example follows].

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http://www.lincolnharrison.com/startrails/

Now I wanted to focus this trip on Milky Way Photography so Star Trails were NOT the desired result. There’s actually a mathematical formula used to calculate how long you can leave a shutter speed open based on the capability of your specific camera before you start experiencing the streaking of a Star Trail (it’s very long exposures that show rotational trails like above). So finding that number in seconds (a little over 17 seconds) I then adjusted my settings to JUST under that so I could maximize the light I took in. Additionally I had to use the Photographer’s Ephemeris to find out when Moon Rise was so I could avoid it. Why? The Moon is detrimental to Milky Way shots because the stronger light of the Moon causes it’s own light pollution drowning out the fainter Milky Way.

Luckily everything was lining up beautifully for my shots from an astronomy stand point. And then, Mother Nature decided to rain on my parade. 3 Nights of potential shooting, and I only got about an hour here and there of sporadic breaks in the cloud coverage across those 3 nights (usually the breaks were NOT conducive to MilkyWay shots at all) where I had a chance to shoot something, and even then there were still wispy hazy clouds that prevented me from getting clear shots, or other people ruining my shots. This is sadly the best shot I got.

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The Milky Way Rises from above the Davis Mountains in Texas.

As frustrating as my trip was, the experience I took away from the attempt will pay dividends in the future. Thanks to my cousin’s invitation I was at least able to listen to some amazing talks at the annual McDonald Observatory’s Board of Visitors Meeting, by scientists and researchers like Dr. Fritz Benedict’s “The Joy of M Dwarf Binaries and How One in the Hyades Gives Me a Headache” and Dr. Rob Robinson’s “Astronomy Questions that Remain Unanswered.”

This is my best Stardust shot from my trip:

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This neon sign is all that remains of Marfa’s Stardust Motel, it can be found on US-90 as you head West from Downtown Marfa immediately next door to the Apache Pines RV Park. The sign has since had it’s neon restored and it’s lit at night time. The sign’s neon now reads “Marfa” instead of “motel” (most likely to avoid confused travelers), though the original motel lettering on the sign can be seen during the day.

 

2017 IAA’s Traveling Animal Art Exhibit

Dallas / Fort Worth residents can hop on over to Irving this month to see my award-winning photography in a traveling exhibit with other artists.

If you missed your chance to check out my Texas Longhorns at the Jaycee Park Center for the Arts in Irving, you’ve got one more chance to see it in person. Some selected pieces from the 2017 Irving Art Association‘s National Animal Art Juried Exhibition, including both of my Texas Longhorns, have been invited into the IAA’s Traveling Animal Art Exhibit and will be on display, and freely accessible to the public.

 

Where:

Irving Arts Center

3333 N. MacArthur Blvd

Irving, Texas

 

When:

October 7 – November 26, 2017

During Gallery Hours

 

For more information about the Irving Arts Center please visit their website.

 

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Cakeballs, Popcorn, Donuts & Beer – Art Show

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There will be a reception on Saturday, October 7th from 7-11pm for the latest themed show–Cakeballs, Popcorn, Donuts and Beer–at the Central Arts of Bedford located at 2816 Central Drive in Bedford. Not only will I have work exhibiting at the show (a shot from the Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen, Denmark), but many of my prints (featuring a wide variety of subject matter) are also returning to the gallery.

Admission is free, so please come on by to support your local artists. I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet that there’s going to be some free samples from some of the food businesses in the Meadows Shopping Center.

 

Please Subscribe & Follow

The October Newsletter is just about to go out! If you haven’t subscribed, now’s the perfect time to do so!

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Just click here for the newsletter sign-up, and if you haven’t already while you’re there, please go ahead and follow me on social media too!

 

There’s nothing I hate more than spam in my inbox. Typically you’ll get one newsletter a month, but there may be an odd extra one here and there as it applies to any time-sensitive news.

 

 

GrapeFest 2017!

5 hours of set up later, and my booth is ready! I have ready to hang art, prints ranging from 8×10″ to 16×20″, greeting cards, and art in mini-frames up for sale.

Look for the best local artists (including yours truly ^_~) of the Grapevine Art Project in the Foust Event Center (523 S Main St in Grapevine, Texas), exhibiting our wares: photography, paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry & more!

GrapeFest runs from September 14-17, with free admission all day Thursday, and until 5pm Friday. There’s free parking and a courtesy shuttle at the Grapevine Public Library. For more information please visit: https://www.grapevinetexasusa.com/grapefest/

 

Get a glass of wine, stop by, and enjoy some fantastic art!

 

 

Award-Winning Photography? Check!

The Reception & Awards Ceremony for the 2017 Irving Art Association‘s National Animal Art Juried Exhibition was held Sunday, September 10th from 2-4pm at the Jaycee Park Center for the Arts in Irving, Texas. To my great delight my piece, “Texas Longhorn- II” was recognized with an Honorable Mention, which was accompanied by both an award and cash prize.

 

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This photo is courtesy of the Irving Art Association‘s photographer Patsy Davila, who snapped this shot of me next to my award-winning entry. 

 

For more of Patsy photos from the Reception & Awards Ceremony, please visit the IAA photo Album on Photobucket.

For pictures of the award-winning art, you can see the Winners Gallery at the IAA’s website.