The White Rock Lake Artists Tour

October 14, 2001

© 2001 by JR Compton + Kathleen DelloStritto

Photographs by JR Compton

We started out at David Hickman's studio -- of course. He's very probably the busiest sculptor in Dallas. And certainly one of the most creative. If there's another, busier sculptor out there, E-mail us immediately and show us their work. We're prepared to be amazed. David's large studio ( amply illustrated in last year's tour story ) was buzzing with a fascinating array of ongoing and proposed projects, and his yard was filled with large pieces of them.

   

It was fascinating to explore other artists' work and work spaces, but it was an exhausting challenge to visit all 30 artists on this year's tour. Too many particpants by half, but we trogged to all but one, taking pictures and notes and handing out Dallas Arts Revue business cards ( our only form of advertising ) all along the way.

Click here for an extended 
peek at last year's tour.

30 is clearly too many locations for a single day's touring, but this is Fort the Love of the Lake's first attempt at sponsoring the event, which may have to be more discerning next time. And though we enjoyed visiting with artists all over the map, it's difficult to justify including stops as far away from the lake as Old East Dallas.

It was 5:25 pm when we finally arrived on Tremont Street, as far away from the lake as we could imagine a lake-area tour to go. Too far, really. But Viv Harris-Bonham was nice, and we'd met nearly thirty years ago, and her home and, especially, the front porch ( above left ) was comfy and reminded us of home.

Perhaps a little knowledgeable jurying could exclude the less artful and more commercial establishments next year. The work in the portfolio, fiber artist Jack Brockette was showing to visitors looked impressive, but there was nothing showing among the soft piles of fabric lining his colorful studio. And none of his art hung on the walls. This was dismayingly true of several tour artists.

Occasionally, our biggest navigational question on that rainy Saturday afternoon was, "is that a garage sale or more art?"

   

Glass artist Diana Chase's envy-worthy studio work desk ( above left ) looks out into a lush, green and growing back yard. Her home and studio are close enough to the lake to see it from her front yard. But few of the day's artists could make any such claim. There's more of Diana's art on last year's White Rock pages.

I've long admired Ms Chase's slumped and other glass work, but Kathy was utterly knocked out by her gorgeous windows -- some organic, some geometric, all in beautiful, soft colors and elegant forms.

Sculptor Ruth Hamilton's elegant, academicly illustrated office ( upper right ); and designer / sculptor Mark Rubino's long, busy, shotgun garage studio ( top right ) were but a few of the many working and exhibiting spaces all around the East Dallas area we visited that busy mid-October Saturday. Ms. Hamilton's wonderful back yard with her secluded studio, far back on a big lot, was spare of art till we got inside. There, it was ubiquitous.

 

 

Somewhere deep into our weary way through the tour, a stop at ceramic artist Gary Huntoon's studio was a good one to keep us going. His great plates ( above left ), hearts ( above right ), boats, various works in progress ( below right ) and what Kathy kept calling clay pillows were elegant, mysterious and beautiful.

 

 

The White Rock Lake Artists Tour included lots of clay artists, and much of the work we saw in studios and offices was delicious in one way or another, although others were hackneyed and looked mass produced. Many of the simple, serene works in clay artist Annie C Foster's walk-up garage studio are topped with marvelous, minaret lids ( above left ).

 

 

Kathy loved Marty Ray's work, including Day Off, ( above left ), which she said, "draws you in. It's very sophisticated." in fact, Kathy liked one piece on a table marked "Old Work -- $25" so much, we had to get it for her, and it now sits carefully in a corner of her dining room catching light.

An outcoming visitor promised us the ceramics inside Linda Gossett's garage studio were "wonderful," but we found a possibly forgotten ceramic bell sitting outside, on the window-unit air conditioner far more compelling -- with its colorful nudes and straight-forward patterning -- than the plethora of gift crafts inside.

 

By far the most fabulous back yard on the tour was Kathy Boortz's elegant lot, which backs onto a tiny lake featuring a large fountain. Talk about whimsey -- and we kept discussing that usually errant word all afternoon -- Ms. Boortz' found-object work truly qualifies, as this Berry Press Pelican, ( above left ) vividly attests.

The zigging bird bath stood silent sentry along the way to tables darkly huddled with pigeons -- by ceramist Glo Coalson. It was a fair hike following little red construction flaglets through the deep yard, but we didn't stay long. We were tired and seeking elusive originality.

 

Becky Romanek Johnson's whimsey was less focused. JR thought her ubiquitous, large-scale fire ant votive holders were a great idea the first time he saw them, but... We were both accosted by her plaintively figurative easel ( above right ) . And we agree that her clay models ( above left ) perfectly illustrate the event on the DARts cover.

 

 

Too many artists call their work whimsical. You can't tell it from this busy pool-side confab of colorful metal sculptures, but Terri Stone ( above left ) has a seriously absurd sense of humor. Her home in a beautifully and densely treed neighborhood I've just gotta drive through again -- if I can ever find it -- was, unfortunately inundating with heavy rain when we visited -- too wet to risk using my ancient digital camera on all the detailed work. But they were doing land office business selling metal sculptures and teacups mounted on rods for mini birdbath / feeders.

David Duncan's garage studio was guarded, on the far end, by an egregiously smiling -- cheshire? -- cat atop the gate ( below left ), and the back door was flanked by a duo of what at first seemed atrocious alien creatures ( above right ). The main entrance was well guarded by two soundly sleeping dogs that resembled large, shaggy throw rugs. They looked about as tired as we felt, with a half dozen stops yet to go. But David served up our sugar needs with Halloween spider cookies.  

 

 

Speaking of food, Clay artists Betsy Doan's overabundance of funky, ceramic fish ( above ) were no match for her incredible multitude of foot-and-a-half long zucchini dangling from lush vines that covered one whole side of her house.   

 

Of course, there was art inside the Bath House Cultural Center, which was overflowing with its annual Day of the Dead show, where we both admired Larry-Paul Jones' high fired clay Reliquary of Saint Incognitas of Malaqa ( above left ). But Frances Bagley and Tom Orr's collaborative piece out in the pre-Integration, 1950s swimming area captured JR's attention for many long minutes while Kathy explored inside. Only the tallest poles on the far perimeter of the semi-circular array of vertical perches were being favored by birds. Espcecially photogenic were several large birds -- including this avian trio ( above right ) on dark poles. What looks like a flag standard on the right is actually a large bird showing off his wings. ( More on this bird art is on DARts' Contents Page. )

We were also impressed by Carolyn Brown's glowing Rose Petals, Marygolds and Candles, Chichecastenango, Guatamala ink jet archival print and Cesar Mateos' vivid photograph, When the River Dings, You Dong photo of a wild, wood masked person hoisting a boat, in the hallway gallery's annual Digno photographic exhibition.

  

 

 

The Creative Arts Center did not impress us much. Oh, there was gobs of space and different areas for differing arts, but we didn't find anything worth discussing until we encountered a sculpture class interacting with a model in one of the spacious back rooms. After extensive explorations, we found ourselves glazing over and left, nonplused by the institution's show of quality.

Now JR has to admit that, though he originally photographed the found metal sculpture ( above right ) as an example of bad taste, his estimation of its funky beauty has grown, and now he wishes he could credit it to some striving Dallas artist.

 

Admittedly, we are painting snobs. The description, "Impressionistic pastels of landscapes and florals, particularly local scenery, bluebonnets and the changing seasons" gave us such a thick sense of foreboding dread that we skipped that painter entirely. But JR really liked Richard Ray ( married to Marty Ray, above )'s gentle cityscapes ( above left ), several of which were of recognizable local scenes.

Kathy was so impressed by Lynn Noelle Rushton's Apotheosis of an Incomplete Woman ( above right ) and her colorful -- yet lovely coloring -- and painterly work that she insisted JR photograph it in Lynn's tiny studio / back room.

JR hadn't seen Rick Maxwell for more than a decade, but we admired what was left of his mostly whimsical 25 Bad Dogs, scattered around the deck between his house and studio. We were startled by Rick's very large, corporate motorsport art, that Rick doesn't want to be known for, however well it might pay the bills. And we were both taken by Carolyn Maxwell's fine silver jewelry, which was lovely, intricately complicated and dotted with semi-precious stones.

We saw two Dallas Soars Pegasi. This is the first time JR has spelled that S-word correctly. This first instance is in honor of Diana Chase's resplendant version, being worked on by Annie Davis when we visited somewhere in the middle of the afternoon rain.

The other flying horse, by Kathryn Thomas, approximated what JR dreaded when he first saw publicity about the City-sponsored event, which aimed to scatter variously "decorated" fiberglass Pegasi around Dallas to "uplift our morale." We saw no art on the long trek back to her studio, and nothing in progress there. But that gaudy Dallas Sore hovers in our memory.

Friend Nancy Ferro told a long and winding story of finally getting her print press back after selling it to someone who sold it to someone else, etc. Kathy called one of her works, hanging just inside the back yard studio's main door, "a lovely assemblage with feathers" and JR recognized and re-admired a thick, painterly print from one of Nancy's previous series, on the back wall of the pristine space just past the garden.

During the coldest part of the rain, cartoonist Brad McMillan provided a warm, dry studio with some actual humor and a family setting with kids sitting patiently with the artist. And painter Amanda Farris told us about upcoming TVAA and Southwest Watercolor shows.

Neither of us could muster any appreciation for the garish and hackneyed paintings of Dahlia Woods, although we liked her elegant little studio notched behind the pool in elegant upper Lakewood. At least she was only a couple blocks from the lake.

The several weavers on the tour were pleasant people, and we don't really want to raise the specter of the Art vs Craft wars here, but crafts persons seemed woefully out of place in an event describing itself as an Artists' Studio Tour.

 

Unless otherwise noted,
Photographs ©2001 by JR Compton
  

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