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The 3-D Adventures of
David and TJ and Carolann
in Lampasas

Story + Photographs by J R Compton
All Contents Copyright 2005 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

These photos are arranged in chronological order.


Visiting Steve & TJ (1)    Slight Return (2)    3-person show at Central Texas College

David Hickman    Carolann Haggard    T J Mabrey    Steve Mabrey    acorns

Hanna Springs    Lucille Art Dog

OTHER PAGE: How The 3-D Adventures ... Came To Be by TJ Mabrey

Suddenly, 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 in his Accordion
Kings T-shirt and bandana

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.

David Hickman - Portal, 2005 (detail)
Texas Buff Limestone with steel and copper details,
15 feet tall X 12 feet wide X 2 feet thick.

The wind activated kinetic top element rotates through a 10 ft.
diameter circle. The Limestone blocks weigh 10,000 lbs each.


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.

David Hickman - Portal, 2005 (detail)

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.

David Hickman - Portal, 2005 (detail)

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.

David Hickman - Portal, 2005 (detail)

Great, simple, direct, mechanical metal textures. Combined with ageless stone. Holding together this more than modern century with those long past.

David Hickman - Portal, 2005

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 - Lampasas Furniture, 2005

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.

Carolann Haggard's couch detail

Carolann Haggard - Lampasas Furniture, 2005
(nearing completion — only tilework afghan to go)

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.


acorns on TJ's Acorn



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.

TJ and David making and planning marks for the community T-shirt
we supposed to be auctioned, at the artists dinner in downtown Lampasas.


Visiting The Mabreys

We 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...

From the other side this object in potentia looks nothing like a bull.

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.


I should know the title and size and date of this object
on this box in TJ's studio, but I'm guessing they are
marble. I just like looking.
Maybe TJ will see this and tell me.

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.

stones and sculpted objects in TJ's woodshed

TJ Mabrey - unidentified pods

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?”

TJ Mabrey


TJ Mabrey - cloud shape

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.


TJ said she took the paint off this side of the rooster,
but she played no other creative part in this guy's etre.


I'm a sucker for texture. Old paint flaking and
flowers chipped out of stone do it for me.


TJ said these were water towers, so I guess is the shape above.


the back yard at Steve & T J's


the front yard


the driver's side windshield detail — a scorpio
on our way into town to see the progress in,
Lampasas, then off to CTC for more art.




J R & Anna Back to Hanna

3 of TJ's 4 Flora

Next 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.


Atlantis? — the sulphur springs that give Hanna its name


strong-smelling sulphur water
gushing out of the springs
under the white structure of it
on the far side of the park


Sulphur Soak - Copyright 2005 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

First Anna, then I, rinsed our feet in the sparkling cool, healing waters.



Carolann Haggard's tile afghan

 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.


TJ's stone acorn in process


a TJ shape at the Fourth Street Gallery in Lampasas— Is it a bird or is it another pod?


Lucille Art Dog at Fourth Street Gallery in Lampasas



The 3-person show at
Central Texas College

Carolann Haggard - Getto Scene - mixed media


David Hickman - Voyager - Bois d'arc and glass


TJ Mabrey - Black Pod II - Black Belgian marble


TJ melding with the Pylons at CTC

I pointed out that the DayGlo pylons circling the table in the
library "must be art." TJ insisted upon becoming part of it.


TJ under a table at Central Texas College Library



Back to Steve & TJ’s

sunlight  from window below


Message from TJ: "Re: those tractor tires in my front yard —
are actually solid rubber balls manufactured in Lampasas and
used to clean out pipe lines. They are inserted in the line and
pushed along under high pressure. The ones I have were defective.
Having read your article, they now remind me of the
"Billiard Balls" out in Stanley Marsh's field.


vine around marble sculpture in their dining
room, a pillowed chair in the foreground.


kitchen details


dragon on the mantel

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.


T J Mabrey - marble head

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.


T J Mabrey - man asleep on a boat floating about the fireplace

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.


portrait of TJ by a friend in Italy

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...


Stephen and T J Mabrey in their
dining room, with the kitchen beyond

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