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The 3-D Adventures of
David and TJ and Carolann
Story + Photographs by
J R Compton
All Contents Copyright 2005 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.
uddenly, over a hill, driving south from Waco, the topography changes completely from I-35
South's extended, over ordinary nothing to everything is green and there's trees for miles and miles and miles. And at the end of our road, we found art and artists. It may still be Texas, but this could be paradise.
David Hickman was the first of the three artists in Lampasas' Hanna Springs Park we encountered. So nice to travel 200 miles to find someone we know and like, indeed a neighbor in a park we'd never seen on a map we weren't certain of in a city we'd only ever heard mentioned.
What I liked, soon as I laid eyes on David's Portal, was the slowly spinning, weather vaning moon, stars and rain, swiveling over and holding together the two great, heavy, stone doors of David's gateway.
T J told us David did these fabulous textures with a chainsaw. Him careful as a surgeon, subtling the textures into frozen liquid, falling like the rain from the vane, sky to the ground, all around the edges.
It's a hole. And it looks utterly simple, but it was a booger to cut through two feet of stone (twice). David drilled through over and over, hoping the holes met in the middle, and now the whole thing does. The deepest saw would only go halfway (two feet), which, as it turned out, was far as it needed.
Great, simple, direct, mechanical metal textures. Combined with ageless stone. Holding together this more than modern century with those long past.
On the autumn equinoxe (September 21) David set a marker at dawn and lined it up in a straight line with the gateway between the doors, through to the white circled sulphur springs in the trees beyond.
Seems perfect, with the stars, the moon, the great hulking mass of doors anchoring a wide, invisible wall of insubstantiation and all that amazing texture... Here they're almost faces talking to each other in the secret language of stone.
Carolann Haggard lives in Dallas, but to photograph her work I had to drive 186 miles to Lampasas, then another buncha miles to a show in the atrium hallway of Central Texas College's library.
Still, we managed to miss her at almost every turn around Lampases during out weekend tour there. We did see her at the Artists' dinner at the Italian restaurant Satty night.
Meanwhile, her piece was progressing, by leaps, each time we saw it again. We just never, except for that once, saw Carolann. I'm not a morning person, and Anna and I together become less so. So I suspect Carolann is.
Being in the ankle of the Texas Hill Country is worth it all by itself, of course. Having art in the making, growing in the rolling pastures of Hanna Springs Sculpture Garden in bike riding distance from downtown Lampassas in summer falling into autum with breeze hints of coming winter secures the condition is some kind of marvelous.
More photographs of Carolann's work in Central Texas College will be on her new DallasArtsRevue member page.
Oak Trees have Acorns
The acorn — seed of all oak trees — is a beautiful fruit.
The one represented [below] is a hybrid of sorts.
It is a composite of several. But when asked,
What is it?” everyone knows —
It's an acorn! And where does it come from?
Every third grader knows the answer —
from Acorn Trees! Naturally!!
from TJ's Art In The Park email commentary
I like TJ's sense of scale. Little bits of shape — earrings, acorns, nestled in the crooks and flats of these large, fused flowers, flowing like stone in the landscape. Becoming, always becoming, yet caught in medias res on the way to completion as something else, something I never saw, because we left before she finished them.
David had just finished his gate when we pulled into Hanna Springs the first time. Carolann had just laid the tile afghan atop the crotch of the couch, grouting to come later, but she had left. TJ was still working on her flowers, may still be.
Visiting The Mabreys
e now transition to a visit to TJ's and Steve's home and studio, where Anna and I stayed during our Central Texas sojourn. I've been there before, and I love visiting, but TJ still needs to complete the trade and have dinner on me sometime when she's in Dallas for the opera or art...
Perhaps I should note that TJ and I have been friends for more than 25 years. When they lived in Oak Cliff, she used to trade haircuts for my photographs of her work. And we traveled for art, driving to Amarillo or Houston or San Antonio to see more of it.
I forget what all we saw in H or SA, but in Amarillo, she'd wrangled a personal tour of his inner ranch by Stanley Marsh himself and with one of his hands to the outter reaches. Eventually, I'll bring that story — complete with photos of some of Texas' most famous art — to these pages.
She was a strong, early agitator, getting me to write my own way of writing, especially about sculpture. Oviously her direction. Perhaps less obviously mine, too. She insisted I write about art and publish the stuff, and keep on writing and publishing.
She was, in fact, involved in the Artists Coalition of Texas and played an important part in getting them to publish DallasArtsRevue (only they insisted on calling it Texas Arts Revue). ACT later gave its nonprofit status to some young art upstart called D-Art.
TJ and I've got along this long because we are similiarly involved in making ideas visible. She in her art, her sculpture and exhibitions around the world. I in my words and pictures right here in Dallas. And because we both loved looking at and talking about art — and, for that matter, arguing and philosophizing about it. We did a lot of that, over hundreds and thousands of miles. We are still at those long conversations, which can last lifetimes.
So here I am traveling south again to see her chicken coop studio and pieces scattered about the back yard, on the grass, in the park and in the galleries. A bit of a sentimental journey. A lot of catching up. Really more curiosity on both our parts.
These both appear religious in their iconography. But there's a bit of clownish absurdity in that twisting spiraling on the right. The twirling stick and the object in one of the two-headed child's three hands. That story is pulling at me, swirling me into it.
Seems almost mechanical, but at Central Texas College, we saw close cousins in vine-ripened similarity. She has this thing for long, long necks. It's gotta be a chore to sculp all those ins and outs.
Seeds and seed pods have been in my line of sight since moving to the Texas countryside from Egypt in 1992. Gees — they got in my shoelaces and latched onto the hem of my skirt!
One totes them around for days and then finds them in the lint trap of the washing machine. They're tenacious. They would sprout in my dryer lint trap.
I cursed them for a couple of years, and then, in 2000, I started looking at them through a magnifying glass. Only then did I appreciate their sculptural qualities.
Then I carved some of them larger than life so I could see them better. Some, I invented.
Now that I'm aware of them, I admire their ability to survive some of the god-awful things man does to do them in! I worry about bio-diversity and terminator seeds.
Who would have thought it would come to this?”
I remember these shapes as clouds. Like one of Casper's thugly buddies, this one reminds me — all laid back with crossed legs and that curious, swirling white cloud look of insolence about him — of a mischevious boy cloud in a white mood now, sure, but fully capable, in a moment's notice and a stressed-out lightning bolt or two — a cloud floating over Central Texas — of turning abjectly stormish then subliming into the distant haze.
J R & Anna Back to Hanna
ext day, and we're back to the Hanna Springs for more sculpture for more exploring the park itself. Then we fling off to Central Texas College at TJ's insistence, for a look-see at her, David and Carolann's work on display in the library there.
Carolann Haggard's tile afghan yet ungrouted but glued into place. Colorful tiles setting off the monochromatic stone, itself differently textured inside and out. Rough out and lined and smooth in the places where we each settled into, imagining ourselves sinking sumptuously into the scored and sculptured couch.
See this work earlier above.
The 3-person show at
Central Texas College
I pointed out that the DayGlo pylons circling the table in the
library "must be art." TJ insisted upon becoming part of it.
Back to Steve & TJ’s
Steve and TJ's house is busy with shape and texture. Austin Stone walls and lots of things that look a lot like art on the walls, on shelves, tables, window sills, on the floor, in the yard, in the studio. That art stuff is everywhere. I felt right at home there, and I liked exploring.
This is exquisite. Simple, direct. In many ways, obvious. Few visual details to complicate things. Human with ear, maybe the hint of a hair line, or just the subtle texture in stone. A darker side visible, shaded. What is she listening for or to? Who is he, and what is she up to?
Nestled softly on a Mexican blanket on the floor by the fireplace, this severed head has no human superstructure. No body. No verticality we'd expect.
No face. Well, a face, but no features. It could be anybody.
I think I remember this stone smoothness is a guy on a boat, because I have seen that shape in her work before and was corrected. A boat. I like that this thing so obviously floating is carved in stone.
This does not look like the TJ I know, but portraits are like that sometimes. They tell us who these people are through the eyes of the artist, not necessarily ours. I keep looking at this picture, and I recognize some of the shapes and form, even the hair — almost.
TJ is in there, yes, hmmm... probably. But who's that clown and the oh-so proper lady? I wonder...
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