Artist’s love of art begins in childhood
This week The Citizen continues its Local
Artist Series featuring Judy Chambers of Cat Spring, who has earned a
Master’s in fine arts and has enjoyed teaching art throughout the years.
When asked when she first
discovered her love for the arts, Chamber replied that she has a photo
of herself painting at an easel when she was 3-years-old. Through the
years, that passion she developed for the arts at a young age has not
diminished one bit.
“I always loved drawing and painting and it always gave me a sense of accomplishment,” Chambers said.
Judy grew up in Manhattan, not the Manhattan found in
New York, but a much smaller university town in Kansas, where she went
to a small private school.
“The school didn’t have an art teacher so I took some private lessons on Saturdays and some evening community classes,” Chambers said. “Anywhere I could find out more about art that was where I wanted to be.”
When asked what type/media of art she has found most interesting over the years, she replied that it has evolved over the years.
“My BFA and MFA are in Drawing and Painting, but 20
years ago, I fell in love with printmaking and it became my primary
medium,” Chambers said. “My knowledge of drawing and painting was a
perfect marriage with many of the printmaking processes. I have since
produced prints using a variety of procedures, many of which combined
two or more techniques and many have mixed media additions.”
She added that presently, she has been making collagraph plates and then printing them in the viscosity technique.
“This technique consists of an intaglio wipe first
and then two or three rolls of different colors of inks that have been
mixed to different oiliness and then run through the press only once,”
Chambers said. “This process produces monoprints because each time you
make a print, they are unique. The richness of the colors that I have
been able to get with this technique has helped me convey the seasons on
my pond and water series.”
Judy has remained focused this year on her art and has made it a priority to participate in numerous shows.
“This has been a great year for getting into juried
shows,” Chambers said. “I had one piece in the Assistance League of
Houston Celebrates Texas in the Williams Tower Gallery, which is
formerly the Transco Tower.”
She has also had three pieces in the Mono y Mono
exhibit in Austin as well as three pieces presently on display at the
Live Oak Art Center in Columbus in the 2012 Annual Juried Art
Exhibition, which lasts until the end of June, and will have three
pieces featured in the upcoming exhibit, “Nexus in Texas,” also to be at
the LOAC beginning in July.
Judy received Honorable Mention for one of her pieces
in this year’s Annual Juried Art Exhibition at the LOAC, which she said
was a great incentive.
“Some other exhibits I have been in the past couple
of years would include the Second Annual Parallel Universe Exhibit in
Houston, the 2010 Annual Juried Exhibition at the LOAC in Columbus,
Houston Community College Faculty Exhibition at U of H in Clear Lake and the Visual Arts Alliance 27th Juried Membership Exhibition,” Chambers said.
Some other awards Chambers has received for her
artwork in the past include the Award of Distinction in the Third
National All on Paper Exhibition, Buffalo, N.Y. and a Purchase Award at
the Five State Art Exhibition, Sixth Biennial, Port Arthur.
Judy found out about the LOAC in Columbus when two of
her artist friends got into the 2009 Juried Exhibit and she went to see
“I was extremely impressed with the quality of work,
and it just so happened that the juror, Liz Ward, was someone who I
worked with at the Blaffer Gallery and also knew quite well as we were
in graduate school at the same time,” Chambers said. “I joined that year
and then entered the next year’s competition. I am very proud when my
pieces get selected into the Live Oak because their standards are very
high and the jurors are always of exceptional quality.”
Judy is the oldest of five siblings, growing up in Manhattan, Kan. She has been married to the same man for 41 years this July.
“I have one daughter who is married and has my first grandbaby, a 2 ½ year old girl and the light of my life,” Chambers said.
Judy and her husband moved to Houston in 1972, less than a year after they were married.
“I finished my BFA at the University of Houston main
campus, and then taught art for a variety of institutions, including the
Museum of Fine Arts Glassell School, and the Contemporary Arts Museum,”
Chambers said. “When my daughter was in the second grade, I went back
to school while working part time and got my MFA from U of H.”
Chambers said that she and her husband bought land in the Cat Spring area in the spring of 2005.
“He is a remodeling contractor and built one room as a
studio for me,” Chambers said. “It is not very big, but it is extremely
efficient. I have room for my press and lots of built in storage space
and work areas. The house was finished by the summer of 2006 and we came
out during weekends and holidays for a year.”
Judy added that she drives in to Houston and teaches
for the Houston Community College at the Spring Branch location
(Interstate 10 and Sam Houston Parkway, i.e. Beltway 8) on Mondays and
Wednesdays. She usually stays overnight on Wednesdays to see her
granddaughter and give her daughter and son-in-law an opportunity to
schedule a date night.
Chambers has also given a one-day workshop for Print
Matters in Houston on different Monotype processes and a demonstration
on viscosity printing to the Women’s Printmaking Association in Austin.
“I also taught art for the Boys and Girls Club in Bellville one day a week for a year,” Chambers said.
When asked what artists have inspired her over the years, Judy said that Jasper Johns is one for sure.
“Especially for an exhibit I saw at the Museum of
Fine Arts in Houston around 2002 where he took a group of 13 below
standard proofs of a print edition and reworked them, sometimes with
paint, sometimes with drawing materials, sometimes using collage
elements from another print, etc.,” Chambers said. “I was fascinated by
the variation on a theme. I have made light ghost prints from some of my
plates and used them to reconstruct both the image and its meaning.”
Another artist that has inspired Judy is Monet, she
pointed out, especially his series of haystacks that show the different
colors of the times of the day and the times of the seasons.
“My recent works are influenced by our pond and the
ecosystems that exist in ponds and other water resources,” Chamber said.
“I started this series when our pond dried up during the recent drought
here in Texas and we lost our fish, frogs and turtles as well as the
organisms that help sustain their life. I missed the beauty of our pond
and its many different colors and reflections that it produced with the
changing of the seasons and the times of the day. I did a series of the
pond in the different seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter and of
course in Texas you have to have the fifth season … August.”
In Judy’s previous works, she has concentrated on the
cycle of life, an eternal dance that starts and ends and then repeats,
leaving echoes that remain for a time.
“The images and diagrams of the moon represented the
cycles of the seasons and the renewal of life,” Chamber said. “They were
combined with shells that leave a negative imprint of the living matter
they once contained, spiral galaxies that suggest creation, evolution
and the gravitational pull into the center and the unknown, and
additional visual parallels for the cyclic nature of birth, death and
regeneration such as plants, bees and microscopic organisms. These
prints were made using a variety of printmaking processes, many of which
combined two or more techniques and usually had some mixed media
LOAC member and artist Eileen McClellan, of Houston, has been a friend of Judy’s for more than two decades.
“I feel like I have known Judy all my life,”
McClellan said. “We share a love of art combined with a sense of fun
that can’t be measured. When I met Judy over 20 years ago, I was struck
by her passion for teaching, and, quite frankly, she has been my role
model and inspiration ever since.”
Eileen added that Judy is the consummate art educator.
“She is knowledgeable, enthusiastic and organized,”
McClellan said. “Her students have often won top honors in local, state
and national competitions. But, above all, they know that she cares.
Kindness and humor have always been her strong suit. Combine that with
her knowledge of art and you can’t beat it!”
Eileen also pointed out that Chambers’ artwork exemplifies all that she brings to her teaching.
“She sets the bar very high for herself and it shows
in her rich, colorful compositions,” McClellan said. “They intrigue the
viewer by suggesting other worlds, pulling you deep into a space that
you sense is very personal.”
Teaching art and loving it
This week, we continue with the
next installment of the Local Artist Series, featuring a former Columbus
High School graduate who has taught art for many years at the junior
high in Columbus.
Deborah Petrosky, who is a resident of Colorado County, said she discovered her love for the arts in early childhood.
“My mother has told me, I drew before I spoke,” Petrosky said.
Deborah has been a public education art teacher for 32 years.
“My first year of experience was at Spring Branch
Junior High,” Petrosky said. “The next eight years I taught Art at Sealy
Independent School District. I taught junior high and high school classes.”
Deborah started the art department at the Columbus
Junior High (now called Columbus Junior High School-Riverside Campus) in
“I am currently still teaching there and have not
determined a retirement date yet,” Petrosky said. “I love my position as
Art teacher. I enjoy sharing my interest in the arts with my students.
You never have a boring day when you work with students.”
She added that children learn to see more, sense more and recall more through art.
“Art provides experiences that will later coalesce
into sophisticated reasoning and problem solving abilities,” Petrosky
said. “Art is an international language. It communicates meaning without
the use of words. Art helps students create their own identity. Art
enhances basic learning as well as improving skills in perceiving,
reading, analyzing and building vocabulary. I believe art is the most
important subject in anyone’s educational experience.”
Petrosky’s higher education consists of two years at Wharton County Junior College
where she earned an Associate in Arts in May of 1978. She then
transferred to the University of Houston-Central Campus and graduated
with a Bachelor of Arts in Education in 1980.
“I majored in the fine arts at both colleges,” Petrosky said. “I am certified to teach all levels, K-12.”
When asked what artist has influenced her most during the years, Deborah said Georgia O’Keefe comes to mind.
“She had a strong sense of nature,” Petrosky said.
“She loved to paint the wide open spaces around her on the family’s
ranch. Georgia’s greatest achievements are the close ups of flowers. To
catch the attention of people too busy to notice, she made the close-ups
huge. Each fills its canvas with graceful curved surfaces and flowing
She added that the beauty of every petal is seen again and again in the art pieces, over the beauty of the whole flower.
Another artist who has influenced Petrosky is Faith
Ringgold, an African American artist and native of New York City,
especially in the fiber arts.
“She was a painter, collagist, sculptor and quilt
maker,” Petrosky said. “Ringgold draws her subjects from everyday life
and experiences. By integrating fabric, textiles and storytelling into
her work, Ringgold has added new and innovative dimensions to art. I
tell my students, that their artwork should reflect them and their
experiences. It is essentially, an extension of themselves.”
Petrosky has been recognized for her years of
teaching. She was given Association of Texas Professional Educators
Grant for Teaching Excellence and in 2001, the Christa McAuliffe Grant
for Teaching Excellence in the Second Category.
“Each year I was awarded $1,000 to purchase supplies
for my classes,” Petrosky said. “In 2001, I was selected for the
Secondary Soil and Water Conservationist Teacher of the Year for
Before the new junior high campus was built in Columbus, the art students created an art garden.
“It helped teach the importance of nature in our world,” Petrosky said. “It provided a wonderful subject for many assignments.”
Along with teaching at the junior high, Deborah has
taught summer classes at the Live Oak Art Center in the past on a
“The art center is a strong advocate for the arts in
our community, both for the youth and adults,” Petrosky said. “The
Columbus Independent School District holds its Houston Livestock Show
and Rodeo Western Art Exhibit at the center. We have won the Super Show
Award several times. I believe it is in part, because of the excellent
environment at the center. It is very aesthetically pleasing.”
Deborah also said that she shares her art abilities with her church, family and friends.
Tamalyn Neuendorff, a longtime friend and colleague
of Deborah’s, who teaches at the junior high, said their friendship
dates back to when they knew each other in their high school days in
“I met Debbie when she moved to Columbus while we
were in high school,” Neuendorff said. “I can always remember being
amazed at her talent as an artist. Not only was she talented but her
love for art shows in the pride she takes in demonstrating for her
students and helping them to achieve success and meet their artistic
potential in her classes.”
Tamalyn also said that each year Debbie produces a
Cardinal picture for the secret Santa gift exchange which everyone hopes
“I have been fortunate to get one of her marvelous
drawings in the gift exchange and a second from her daughter for a gift
when I was her teacher,” Neuendorff said. “Debbie’s talent and pride in
her work shows each and every day and is a motivating factor for her
students to achieve the best they can too.”
Before becoming a Colorado County resident, Deborah
was born and raised in Hallettsville by her parents, Emma and Albin
“My family moved to Waller when I was three,”
Petrosky said. “I attended Waller ISD from K through 11th grade. I moved
to Colorado County in the summer of 1975. It was the summer before my
senior year in high school. At the time, I thought it was the end of my
world as a teenager.”
She said, however, the first weekend she was in
Columbus, she met her future husband, Gregory Petrosky, a third
generation rancher. They were both classmates who graduated from CHS in
“He is a pharmacist at our local Walmart,” Petrosky
said. “We married on August 8, 1981. Our home is located on the family’s
ranch outside of Columbus. We have one child, a daughter, Simone.
Simone is a senior at Texas A&M, majoring in Wildlife and Fisheries
Simone said she believes her mom is an asset to the
junior high as a teacher because she encourages every student that comes
through her classroom door to become the best person that they can be.
“She always expresses the importance of the arts by
telling her students that art is in everything that we do,” Simone
Petrosky said. “Without art we wouldn’t have clothing/designs, cars,
houses, textbooks with visual aid and more.”
Simone said even when the students lack desire to
learn, Mrs. Petrosky tries to instill a drive in them to help create a
better work ethic no matter how difficult that may be.
“The best teaching aid that she ever had was the
garden she created when her classroom was in an old garage,” Simone
Petrosky said. “She had trees dedicated to deceased students and plants
that would attract birds and insects. When the weather was nice, she
would open the garage doors to let in fresh air and to provide
inspiration to students drawing.”
Simon added that when most people think of art
classes, they think of simple drawings or paintings, but that her mother
makes it more than that.
“She incorporates weaving, basket making, paper
mache, different art contests and stitching,” Simone Petrosky said. “If
she could, she would love to teach her students clay sculpture but lacks
the kiln needed.”
Simone emphasized that her best memories from Columbus ISD were in her mom’s classroom.
“I wouldn’t be the small time artist that I am or
have gotten this far without her support,” Simone Petrosky said. “She
has overcome so much to get to where she is today and I hope that I can
mirror her passion and determination in my life.”
Betty Hovis, niece and former student of Deborah said it is a treat to have an artist in the family.
“It was especially nice to take an art class with her through the school system,” Hovis said.
Hovis said Mrs. Petrosky provides her students with
the opportunity to experience a vast array of media and in an inviting
“My Aunt Debbie tries to get her students to think
outside the box,” Hovis said. “She encourages her students to think for
themselves and allow their own creativity to flow. Now the next
generation of our family is enjoying the same benefits that I did.
Debbie is an asset to the Columbus Junior High. Because of her talents
and knowledge in the arts students become rounded individuals and are
being exposed to how liberating art can be for expressing yourself in a
Deborah said when she decides to retire, she wishes to become a full time artist and gardener.
“Until then, I will enjoy teaching the youth of our community and sharing my love of the arts with them,” Deborah Petrosky said.
Columbus poet wows library audience
We continue the Local
Artist Series with a Columbus native who has found a love for
writing and reciting poetry.
Alvin Thompson, who has spent most of his life as a Columbus citizen, discovered an enjoyment for reading at the age of 5 and a gift
for rhyme. Over the years he has found a love for writing poetry and
was given an opportunity to share his talent with the local community
during a presentation at the Nesbitt Memorial Library in Columbus March
He is proud to say readers will find no curse words or anything derogatory in his poems. Over the years, he has worked many jobs
in the community from being an employee at Kayser’s Meat Market and
Schobels’ Restaurant to hauling scrap metal, but after living more than
60 years, writing has become his true passion.
On the evening of March 13 at the Columbus library,
Thompson was introduced at his request by Nesbitt Memorial Library
Director Nancy Koehl as “That crazy fool-no telling what he might say.”
Thompson quickly put the audience at ease with what he described as a “delightfully shocking invitation.”
All who were in attendance for the event at the
library were invited to think of a subject title for any subject matter.
Thompson said, no matter what the subject was, he would spontaneously
compose a 6-8 line poem in two minutes or less. To the surprise of the
audience, Thompson was able to fill every request. Topics varied from
“sisters’ to “live oak trees,” from “Two mules named Dave and Buster” to
“scrap metal,” from “Quasimodo,” to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Thompson’s rapid fire, yet enthusiastic, on the fly
compositions came so natural that the audience’s reaction was that they
could not have been better performed if they were scripted with ample
preparation time during the 15-minute segment of the evening event at
Thompson followed up the spontaneous compositions with recitations from two of his previously published books of poetry.
Thompson’s deceptive wittiness could be said to be underscored with excerpts from his first book of poetry, “Alive and Well –Without Sex!”
Thompson said later in an interview that those
present at the library during the evening of his presentation had no
trouble paying rapt attention to each poem he delivered with all the
skill he could muster, breathing life into each story and doing his best
to capture the minds of the audience with his writings.
“I explained why I penned each title, lifting the feelings and emotions from the printed words,” Thompson said.
During the latter portion of his presentation,
Alvin’s love of people and family beamed forth as he brought to life
selections from his second book, “I Have Seen Your Tears, I have Heard
Your Prayers.” He graciously gave a heart-warming explanation of why he
wrote this title as well.
“If you have read it yourself and enjoyed it, your
mind will be stimulated and your heart soothed by hearing my passionate
and comforting rendition of my works,” Thompson said.
During the evening’s event, Columbus citizen Laura
Ann Rau requested if Alvin could perform a poem about solitude. He said
to Rau that he had written a poem on that subject titled, “Grief,
Ecstasy, Solace” found in his second book of poetry and read it with
emotion to the audience.
Alvin’s closing 10 minutes of his presentation at the
library on March 13 featured his latest production, “One Million
Reasons Why Women Deserve Respect.” He described it as a book of poems
written for both women and men to enjoy.
He piqued the crowd’s attention when reading “She Had a Tattoo on her Titanic.”
Thompson then both verbalized and acted out the first
poem he had written, but not the first composed, when he was eight
years old, “A Rabbit Plays in the Grass.”
He then talked about his present works in progress
which include a CD of his three publications in print and an upcoming
audio CD of his works. He announced that he is presently working on a
new book of poetry, “Blossoms and Blooms of Barcelona,” with
consultation and input for an associate in Barcelona, Spain.
When later asked how poetry has touched his life, Alvin replied that it softens the blows of bitter experiences in his life.
“Since we have to take the bitter with the sweet,
adding a little sugar or honey with the bitter makes it not as bitter,”
He also pointed out that writers who have influenced
him over the years include James Russell Lowell and his poem “The
“It has given me inspiration because he stays close
to God,” Thompson. “I took the ideas from his poem and later expanded it
into one of mine.”
He also said he has enjoyed the writings of Maya Angelou.
“I have really enjoyed her body of work overall,”
Thompson said. “She has a resonating manner and she has a way of making
her poetry live in the way she reads it. It is what I strive to do when
He also said whenever he reads poetry, he does it in a
way of a critic and is always thinking of ways he can make his poetry
even better with a variety of themes.
Alvin also said during an interview that he has a
love for music, and with being a longtime Houston Astros fan as well as a
fan of Texas sports teams that have been on top through the years, he
has written a few sports songs in support of the teams.
In 2005, he penned a song for the Astros during their
successful run toward the World Series and titled it “The Straight Az
and KILLA Bz,” describing it as having a psychedelic style similar to
the songs of Jimi Hendrix and it was written with English and Spanish
lyrics. He said while he wrote the song, the late Elmer Mosby “June Bug”
Jr. composed the song and sang English lyrics while Raquel Rivera
voiced the Spanish lyrics of the song. Thompson described it as a song
for those who love the game of baseball.
He said it is a song he is quite proud of and that it
was scheduled to be played in a playoff game, but the playoff series
that year did not last as far as when the song was scheduled to play.
He also wrote a song in 2008 for the San Antonio
Spurs, titled “The Spurs Came Bouncing Back.” Alvin composed the song as
well and played base on the piano while Robert Clayton Sanders sang
He talked about how he sent the song to
representatives of the team, and even though it is not confirmed, Alvin
said with a smile, he is sure that the members of the team heard it at
some point and that it inspired them during their championship run that
Poetry continues to be a force in Thompson’s life along with his love for writing words on paper.
He has also planned to introduce his works to the world in a Youtube video production.
Henry Potter, a resident of Colorado County, was in
attendance at the event at the library along with his wife Pamela, and
talked about how the Potter family and the Thompson family go back a
“I have known Alvin for a long time but I was not
aware of his talent for poetry and rhyme and that he was so brilliant
and entertaining,” Potter said. “His vocabulary is also terrific.”
Henry Potter also said he was quite impressed with
the brilliance of Alvin’s ability to be able to compose poems
spontaneously within just a few minutes after being given a random
“It was almost like a magic show,” Potter said.
Pamela Potter said she has also known Alvin for a
long time and did not know of the vastness of his writing talent until
attending the library event.
“He certainly has a way with words and speaks from the heart,” Pamela Potter said. “It is truly clear in his writing.”
She also said he has a talent that is a gift that few
people have. She added that she has enjoyed reading poetry through the
years and after reading Alvin’s books of poems, she said his writing is
“I wish him well with his future endeavors,” Potter said.
Nesbitt Memorial Library Assistant Bernadette Marsh
said she was fascinated by Thompson’s 15-minute impromptu poetry session
during the evening event at the Columbus library and how he could so
easily come up with a poem so quickly from topics suggested from the
“He was amazing,” Marsh said.
She also said she enjoyed his poems that he read from
his books that have been published which are available to read in the
Nesbitt Memorial Library Archives.
“I thought the best one had to do with grief and solitude,” Marsh said.
Roger Wade, Chairman of the Nesbitt Memorial Library
Advisory Board, was also in attendance during Thompson’s poetry reading
event and enjoyed Alvin’s overall presentation, including the impromptu
poetry session and his readings from his published works.
“I was also taken by the upbeat images that flow
throughout his poetry,” Wade said. “He has an ability to take negative
situations and create positive lessons. He is better known as a poet
internationally than he is in his own community, and that is a shame.”
Color, designs influence artist’s creations
We continues the Local Artist Series with Diane Callen, a resident of Colorado County who is a retired teacher and a member of the Live Oak Art Center Board of Directors.
After retiring from teaching
English and from writing in the medical field several years ago, Diane
and her husband Paul moved from the big city atmosphere of Houston to
the country property they purchased between Columbus and Weimar. Diane
is also proud of her big family.
“We have four grown sons (Bruce, Russell, Wade and James) and four grandchildren living in Dallas, Austin and Houston.”
Once Callen turned her primary focus from words and
literature, which she emphasized that she still enjoys a great deal to
this day, she has set her sights more on exploring design and color
coordination, which is a primary focus in her artwork.
“This shows up not only in my work in glass but also in knitting and fabric creations,” Callen said.
When asked what artist has most inspired her in her
work, she replied that she is very drawn to the work of William Morris,
poet and designer of wonderful florals. She added that she is also
influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, for his architecture and geometric designs.
“Both of these influences are easy to spot in the arts and crafts I pursue,” Callen said.
Diane said her latest piece of artwork she is most
proud of is a set of three stacked wooden boxes filled with her glass in
a design flowing from the largest on the bottom through the midsize and
smallest boxes atop it.
“Also, I’m fond of my freestanding pieces, all my own
design of course,” Callen said. “Only occasionally do I still make
hanging window pieces or Christmas ornaments.”
Callen also talked about the importance of the Live Oak Art Center in the local community.
“The LOAC has drawn together an impressive number of
art lovers and artists from a very wide range of media,” Callen said.
“I’m very pleased to see the center growing as a venue for Texas
artists and a ‘crossroads’ center for the Houston-Austin-San Antonio
Diane has been quite involved at the art center for
the past few years after becoming a Colorado County resident, serving as
board member for three years in the position of secretary.
“Without a doubt, my greatest enjoyment has come from
interacting with members of the board and the center with whom I share
many interests,” Callen said. “They have been very welcoming to me as a
Along with her work at the art center, she has also enjoyed doing volunteer
work at the Nesbitt Memorial Library in Columbus in recent years. This
is how she met the late local historian and Library Director Bill Stein
and she would become a participant in the annual Live Oaks and Dead
Folks Cemetery Tour taking place in November each year.
“Almost immediately, he roped me into being a guide
for the Live Oaks and Dead Folks Cemetery Tour,” Callen said. “After two
years of that duty, I begged him to let me enact a character from the
past at the tour. Shortly before his death, he promised I could perform
in the next year’s event –and I held him to that promise!”
Callen added that it certainly has been fun to become, at least temporarily, a person from the past of Colorado County.
Executive Director of Live Oak Art Center Thomas
Truchard spoke with great regard of Diane Callen and said he personally
owns two stained glass works of Callen’s.
“Her work is quite remarkable and an attractive
addition to my private collection,” Truchard said. “When I first met
Diane three years ago she was extremely generous in offering me a free
class and demonstration working with stained glass. It amplified my
appreciation of the skill it took to create even a small ornament.”
A model artist finds passion
Dallas Hill, who has owned a farm in Frelsburg for more than 30
years and also resides in Houston, said in an interview she has
been a daughter, a sister, a wife, a redhead, a mother of five, a
grandmother of six and a grieving widow throughout her life. She
has seen many of the sites of the world and has truly found passion
in being an artist.
“I have modeled in Europe, fenced with a German fencing master and
attended the University of Munich for my art,” Hill said.
While enjoying the great state of Texas, she has raced boats,
dabbled in colleges, dyed her hair red and in 1976, she even had
her own country music band called “Dallas and the Cowboys.” Through
her 40-year career as a high fashion model, Dallas showed in such
places as New York, Texas and Mexico as well as Germany for in top
She recalled fondly her youth, growing up in the Lone Star
“I was a good Catholic girl brought up in beautiful east Texas by
parents, Joseph and Bernice Hain and raised with the name, Mary
Joe,” Hill said.
She talked about being a kid during the anxiety ridden years of
World War II and wishing she could help out in the war
In the early 1950s, Dallas attended college at the University of
Lamar in Beaumont and later married who would be her husband for 55
years, Jerry Gifford Hill, an Air Force Officer and a long time
friend of the family.
In the mid 1950s, Dallas and her husband moved to Europe. The
couple had their first child, Marcus. Her dream of modeling became
realized as she modeled in an exclusive fur salon (Pelz Model Haus)
in Munich, Germany. Not long after, she became a student at the
University of Munich and was also a magazine cover girl. It was at
this time that she took up extracurricular fencing and began to set
her sights on movies and acting.
“I had an offer to be in a movie starring Don Ameche,” Hill
However, her film acting career did not quite yet come to fruition
but she continued to concentrate on her love for art, taking
private classes in Munich with a Russian Portrait artist.
In the later part of the decade, Dallas gave birth to her second
“I became the mother of a princess baby girl, Filomena,” Hill
Being a mother of two did not slow down her career as she modeled
on the runway with Ben Shaw as her agent.
She made her first ever television appearance on the Joanne King
Show, who is now known as Joanne Herring. Herring was played by
Julia Roberts in the Universal Studios film, “Charlie Wilson’s
War,” Hill pointed out.
As the decade went on, Dallas had modeled in print for the Houston
Chronicle, Houston Post and River Oaks Magazine. She also became
the mother of a second son and her third child, Thaddaus.
“He is now a Political Science professor at Blinn College in
Brenham,” Hill said.
As the 50s nearly came to a close, Hill continued her career as a
high fashion model and gave birth to her son, Christian.
“He was ten pounds of love and perfection,” Hill said.
During the 1960s, Dallas continued to model on the runway as well
as appearing regularly on the show, “Dialing for Dollars” with Jan
Glenn and also appeared on the show, “Eyes of Texas” with Ron
“During those years, I could often be seen in country clubs
teaching children modeling and manners,” Hill said. “Soon, I became
the mother of Gifford, the last of my five ‘perfect’
Dallas continued with her modeling career as the 60s sped through
the years of Beatlemania, TV westerns Texan Lyndon Baines Johnson
in the White House. She then became the assistant fashion director
for Neiman Marcus.
The 1970s became a pivotal era within Dallas’ modeling career as
she modeled for companies like Saks Fifth Avenue, Isabell Gerhart,
Joske’s and many other companies from Texas to California and
“I was also the I.W. Marks (Diamond Jeweler in Houston)
Spokesperson, and worked with designers such as Oscar De La Renta,
Victor Coasta, movie icon Edith Head (costume designer for many
feature films, including many directed by Alfred Hitchcock) and
“I also combined forces with ‘creative genius’ Brian Pinette and
became a country music sensation,” Hill said.
The tunes, penned and produced by Pinette, were stylishly performed
by Dallas and the Cowboys as the group’s recordings were heard from
Houston to Hollywood to New York City and even by the Queen of
England. In addition to recording, they also teamed up on film,
stage and radio with a wide range of film and TV stars.
In 1979, Dallas costarred, along with Coleen Gray (“Red River” and
Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing”) and silent film star Patsy Ruth
Miller (in her final screen appearance) in a film written, produced
and directed by Pinette called “Mother,” billed as a film about “a
whimsical tale of dreams and dreams that come true.”
Dallas said she really enjoyed the experience of performing with
veteran film actors in a feature film and also her daughter
Filomena appearing in the film as well. She also said how excited
about how the movie made its debut in the Big Apple.
“It premiered in the Museum of Modern Art in New York,” Hill
“It was also during the 70s that I began a long-time friendship
with the beautiful, talented Warner Roberts, a television
personality,” Hill said.
As the years went by, Dallas enjoyed appearing on Roberts’ show on
the Fox Network TV station in Houston.
While staying busy in the decade of the 1970s with her modeling,
raising five kids, being a wife to her beloved husband and finding
time for film acting, she was still able to continue to study art,
with three years of education and training from Glen Bahm, an
American portrait artist.
County’s model artist finds passion, part 2
Throughout the decadent decade
of the 1980s, Dallas Hill enjoyed working as a fashion director and
house model for Isabell Gerhart.
“It truly was an exciting decade to be a model,” Hill said.
She was also a Fashion Correspondent for her long
time friend, Warner Roberts’ television show on Fox in Houston as the
80s flew by.
“She has been my best friend in the world and along
with being a great TV personality, she is a great philanthropist,” Hill
Dallas was also a house model for Saks Fifth Avenue
and worked for countless designers on runways and in print. Also during
the decade, she found time to also coordinate and teach modeling and
manners to nine to 13 year olds.
Hill spent the majority of the 90s traveling full
time throughout the United States with her husband, the late Jerry
Gifford Hill, who was a retired attorney at the time, in a 40-foot
custom tour bus, similar to the style Willie Nelson has traveled on
through the years, Hill pointed out.
During the following decade, Dallas became involved
in the art community of New Ulm. From 2004-06, the late Mr. David
Hickman, who was an art professor at the University of Houston and a
gallery owner, became her advisor.
In regards to painting, a quote
from musician Miles Davis, “A painting is music you can see and music
is a painting you can hear,” has inspired Dallas in her art.
In 2006, she completed a 31-piece portrait
presentation titled Accidentally Spiritual, started a new western
portrait series, “Tonto, Trigger and Now This,” and was in the Lawndale
Art Center (Museum District) Retalbo exhibit on view (one of 300
In 2007, Dallas was featured in a “One Woman Show” at
the Art Museum in Southeast Texas in Beaumont. In July 2008, she
entered two art exhibitions: Red Bull Art of the Can Art Exhibitions
Galleries and The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery Exhibitions in
“I also became an art history student at Blinn
College in Brenham under Professor Douglas Peck during the summer of
2008 and I am currently enrolled in classes there,” Hill said.
In 2009, Hill was back on the runway and also made TV
appearances and also signed to do another movie with director and
producer Brian Pinette, of Austin.
She has recently worked on two artworks for Bering
& James Art Gallery’s Christmas Special in Houston. She has also
completed a three-piece presentation for the Holocaust Museum in
“The work for the museum is something I am extremely proud of,” Hill said. “It is the high point of my artwork.”
Her artwork in the exhibit is scheduled to soon be shown in New York.
Some of her artwork can also be found in the Spiritual exhibit at the Dovey McLeod Fine Arts Gallery in Houston in River Oaks.
She said during an interview that she enjoys being a
resident of Colorado County and has enjoyed having her artwork on
display at the Live Oak Art Center.
She said she is also proud to say, looking back on
her artwork over the years, it has been primarily based on portraits of
national and international people, faces and events.
She recollected how her artwork has been exhibited in
Germany and in the Unites States in such states as California and
Alaska, but she is proudest her artwork in the exhibits in Texas.
She has enjoyed every minute she has spent on her
farm located in Frelsburg during the last 30 years where she has claimed
to have the oldest standing log cabin in the County, with a hint of
Dallas said the artist who has inspired her the most within the County is Local Artist Mark Potter.
“He is skilled in his carpentry and I am amazed of how he finds his abilities through his faith in the Lord,” Hill said.
Hill talked about , in an interview, how she believes
it is important to keep strong family ties. Dallas said she and her
sister, Sissy Park, visit every day on the phone for love and family
Also, to this day, her son Marcus, the lawyer, keeps
tabs on his mother and her endeavors and supplies her with lots of deer
Hill’s son, Thaddaus, who is a political science
professor at Blinn College at Brenham, spoke of his mom, the artist as a
most humble individual. Thaddaus said she has a heart as pure as her
paintings/drawings and she gives so much to so many.
He also said, his mother’s artwork does seem to come
natural to her, yet one must remember the quote from artist Michelangelo
remembered throughout history, “If you knew how hard I worked to gain
my mastery, you wouldn’t think me a genius at all.”
Thaddaus said, “Whereas Dallas would never put
herself in the category of such an icon of greatness, those of us who
know her are all too familiar with the painstaking time and effort that
Dallas puts into her art, family and love of country.”
Dallas added that her extended family, Mark Fields,
Walter Shaeffield and Zach Webb, have always been there for her as
friends and artistic support.
She continued by saying as every day passes, she still makes life a magical tour of excitement for her family and friends.
LOAC hosts juried art show
First Prize Art Presented Pictured, center, is David Jenkins of Kenney,
the first prize winner of the 2012 Juried Art Exhibition at the Live
Oak Art Center. The title of his melted/fused glass artwork is “Split
Personality.” Pictured left is event Juror, Leonard Lehrer of Austin
The 2012 Annual Juried Art
Exhibition opening reception took place at the Live Oak Art Center in
Columbus on Saturday, May 19 with more than 63 artists entered in
The artists who participated in
the Juried Art Exhibition were from all over the state, from local
areas such as Weimar and Columbus to cities such as Houston, Austin,
Kenney and Kingsville. Artists submitted a total of 103 pieces that
were on display at the show in both the first floor and the second floor
of the art center in Columbus. A variety of media found in the exhibit
varied from carved stoneware to photography, to oil on canvas, acrylic
on canvas, to monoprint and melted/ fused glass, Earthware ceramics and
graphite drawing to name a few.
The Juror selected this year’s Annual Juried Art
Exhibit was Leonard Lehrer, of Austin, a painter and printmaker whose
work has been seen internationally for more than three decades and now
serves as the Visiting Professor and Director of the new Printmaking
Convergence Program at the University of Texas at Austin. He also serves
as a trustee of the International Print Center New York, of which he is
a founding trustee, trustee of Apexart, NYC, and served as Trustee of
the International Centre for Culture and Management, Salzburg, Austria.
Lehrer is the recipient of the Silver Alumni Award of
the University of the Arts and the renowned Southern Graphics Council
International’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
He selected the three top places in the competition
and also named the honorable mentions. Prior to the evening’s reception,
Lehrer gave a brief lecture about the arts which included observations
about regional and global influences, and then announced the winners.
First prize of the Juried Art Exhibition went to
David Jenkins of Kenney for his melted/fused glass piece titled “Split
Second place went to Clemente Garcia-Lassaulx of Houston for his acrylic/burlap/ canvas artwork, “Infanta.”
Robert Williamson of Houston won third place for his oil painting titled “Kids?”
Artists who received honorable mention included: Judy
Chambers of Cat Spring for “Spring Pond ” (viscosity monoprint), Marcia
Erickson of The Woodlands for “O-Fish Mug, O to Lemon Fish Mug and
Peace & Radiation Fukushima Fish Cup” (stoneware, carved), Linda
Moore of Houston for “3 in One” (monoprint and Chine Colle), Amy
Newland of La Grange for “Tails” (oil on canvas cutouts), Jacqueline
Reis of Houston for “Elephants and Birds” (acrylic on canvas), Mary
Richter of Columbus for “Bubble Wrap” (photography) and Jess Wade of
Austin for “Winds of Change” (oil on wood panel).
After the reception concluded, a Music Festival took
place on the second floor of the art center with country and polka music
by Central Texas Sounds as well as refreshments, snacks and kolaches
being served to the guests.
Sponsors of the musical event were Truchard Vineyards and the No Label Brewing Co. in Katy.
One of the artists who participated in this year’s
Juried Art Exhibition, Cindy Rasche of Cypress, spoke highly of the
evening’s reception and entertainment. She has been featured in one of
the art exhibits at the LOAC in the past.
“I enjoyed the variety of works in the show,” Rasche said. “There was so much artwork to see, and lots to think about.”
Rasche also said that people she talked to who had
never been to the Live Oak Art Center were impressed with the programs
and vitality of the art center.
“The gallery looked beautiful, we had a great crowd,
the lecture was interesting, kolaches and food were excellent and the
music was lively,” Rasche said.
The 2012 Juried Art Exhibit is on display at the LOAC in Columbus through June 30.
Project leads to obsession for local artist
Pictured is a photo by Local Artist Lynda Counts, titled “Rice
Baskets” taken in a rural area of China close to sunset, off limits
to tourists, when she went with a small group of students studying
Cantonese with a professor from the University of Hong Kong who had
arranged special permission from the PRC government. The woman
pictured is dressed in tradition Bai tribal clothing and is washing
baskets used for separating rice.
This week we continue our Local Artist Series with a
world traveler who resides in New Ulm and has a passion for the
arts, especially photography.
Colorado County resident Lynda Counts has always loved beautiful
paintings but her love of photography was a progression that
started when, in another life, she was an interior designer as well
as a history teacher.
“The two both led me to photography in my work and a quick
realization that I desperately needed professional training to get
the effect I wanted,” Counts said. “What started out as a project
quickly became an obsession that filled my office with photographic
equipment, photography books, manuals and of course,
Lynda is a native of Houston and has resided on a small farm
property in New Ulm with her husband, Richard, and a chocolate lab,
Charlie Brown, since 2001.
She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a
Bachelor of Arts degree in History and English. She is certified to
teach secondary history, English and French and has taught at high
schools in Clear Lake and Spring Branch in Houston. Lynda has also
taught photography at the University of Houston at Clear Lake and
English at a private high school for Chinese girls in Hong
Lynda and her husband lived in Asia for several years and the
couple has traveled to more than 100 countries on six continents.
She has written and photographed for several travel magazines while
living in Asia and her photographs and writings have been published
in both English and Chinese.
Lynda’s photographs of Russia have been exhibited by NASA for
events honoring Russian cosmonauts on three occasions.
Her work has been published in several photography books and
selected for inclusion in the permanent collection of the Live Oak
Art Center in Columbus. Lynda’s photographs were also represented
for several years by the Turner/Chapman Gallery.
When asked what types of photography and art she finds most
fascinating, she replied that she loves any type of action
photography but especially wild animals and people in their local
environment in candid shots, also known as “humanism.”
“I take some architectural photographs but it is not my favorite
subject because it doesn’t ‘move’ and relies primarily on lighting
and composition. Wildlife and people shots are much more
challenging combining light and composition but also timing and a
lot of time and patience to get people and animals in shots that
give a message to the viewer,” Counts said. “To me, a photograph of
living things should need no description. If done well, it tells
its own story.”
Lynda said she believes photography is one of the most important
mediums for preserving current social history.
“I prefer 35 mm photography and do not use digital for
photographs that I plan to display or sell because of the lack of
some controls in digital as well as the fade factor of the digital
prints which has not yet been satisfactorily solved by camera
manufacturers,” Counts said. “I use my digital SLRs (single lens
reflexes) to show me what my final shot will look like, but then I
take the final photograph with my 35 mm SLRs using RAW format.”
For many years, Lynda has used her own dark room and processed
her own photographs.
“Now, I have become rather lazy and have two great laboratories,
one in Denver and one in New York that process and print my
photographs on museum quality acid free paper,” Counts said.
Along with being a teacher in her past life, Lynda has also been
an interior designer in Dallas and has owned a travel agency in
Clear Lake. It was in these career paths that her passion for
photography became further realized.
“Photography has played right into those fields,” Counts said.
“I became interested in photography when doing ‘before and after’
photos of homes I was hired to decorate. I realized very quickly
that I needed professional instruction and started taking
Lynda is a member of the Professional Photographers Association
and the Adobe Professional Photographers Association.
“As a result of that, I have been invited to attend several
seminars taught by the Adobe Photoshop group in Dallas and in Las
Vegas,” Counts said. “Although I do not use Adobe in my
professional work, I find it a fascinating medium for the new
contemporary photography that is popular in university classes. I
do not approve of using Photoshop type software to ‘patch’
photographs and consider it a ‘band aid’ and not a tool when used
to repair shots that were not properly taken.”
Lynda Counts, said however, for fantasy photography, it is
“For example, one assignment we were given by the Adobe
specialists in Dallas was to take parts of three very different
animals and make them into a believable new animal,” Counts said.
“It was challenging and great fun.”
Lynda added that Adobe Photoshop has many uses that standard
photography cannot provide, such as combining shots of different
kids playing soccer and putting them into one picture on one soccer
“Unfortunately, I feel that Adobe type software has many times
become a crutch for photographers who doctor their photos instead
of working to take them properly,” Counts said. “Many photography
exhibits are now requiring that submissions be divided into
‘enhanced’ or ‘original’ work since enhancing photos has become so
easy and popular and exhibitors and buyers would like to know if a
photograph is an original work. Encouraging the use of ‘touch up’
software by new photographers, is, in my opinion, damaging the
ability of amateur photographers to improve the quality of their
Lynda continued by saying that a truly outstanding photograph is
one that comes out of the camera ‘tack sharp,’ as photographers
say, with excellent lighting and composition and needs no ‘touch
“I try for the ‘perfect shot’ every time, but needless-to-say,
that does not happen often,” Counts said. “However, I spent as long
as two hours waiting for the perfect lighting and shot when trying
to take a herd of gazelles in Tanzania with all of them looking
up,” Counts said. “I did get it much to the disgust of my driver
who sat patiently all that time.”
Project leads to obsession, part 2
Local Artist Lynda Counts said that while there are many
professional photographers whose careers are based on portrait work
or industrial photography or many other areas, her photography is
centered around humanism and wildlife as her first preferences, but
skills of other specialists play a part in her work as well.
“I have spent time studying several photographers that are
classified internationally as ‘Fine Art Photographers’ because of
the quality of their work,” Counts said.
Artists who have inspired Lynda the most within her work include
Ansel Adams and his ability to “see” lighting in the most artistic
way possible and then reproduce it in black and white.
“Truly amazing,” Counts said. “I have studied his work with light
She added that Andrew Prokos has been an inspiration in that he is
a master of landscapes and cityscapes.
“This is a medium that I do reluctantly so his work inspires me to
think outside the box when faced with boring landscape situations,”
James Nachtway, a photo journalist who specializes in war
photography, has also fascinated her.
“I obviously do not go to war zones but his composition and insight
into creating a photo story of what could be horror photographs is
truly great,” Counts said. “I met a number of war photographers
when I lived in Asia and learned a great deal from them about
getting shots with emotion and meaning that tell a story with
sympathy and understanding. I normally called one of them when I
was going to a country that was having problems to get their take
on safety issues and ended up learning a great deal about candid
Lynda also talked about the Live Oak Art Center in Columbus and how
important of a place it is for the local community.
“I think the LOAC is a jewel in our community that we should
support in any way that we can,” Counts said. “Very few towns,
large or small, have a facility like this and get to view the
quality of art that is presented at the LOAC. Even if the average
citizen cannot afford to purchase the art, it is an amazing
opportunity to see some excellent artists in many different
She continued by saying that the LOAC has presented exhibits on
everything from traditional oil painting, to national watercolor
exhibits, to an amazing exhibit on loan from the Smithsonian, as
well as fabric art, photography, sculpture, collages and
“They are moving more into education with outstanding art teachers
holding classes at the center,” Counts said. “I have been a member
for more than 10 years and served on their board for four years. My
years on the board gave me a true appreciation of what they are
doing for the community. This is an organization that is invaluable
to our community and we are fortunate to have professionals
involved in the LOAC and bringing art to us here at home.”
Lynda has participated in several LOAC shows over the past eight
years and currently has two photographs on exhibit as part of the
annual Members’ Show.
“I particularly enjoyed exhibits featuring several photographers
who each studied different areas of photography,” Counts said.
“Discussions with those other photographers during the exhibits
definitely broadened by outlook on macro-photography, still life
photography and other areas I have not tried.”
In the past, two of Lynda’s photographs have been selected to be
included in the LOAC Permanent Collection. One of the photos is
called “Forest and Stream,” a landscape taken in South Carolina and
the other is “Rice Baskets,” a photograph of a tribal woman washing
her rice basket in a river in China.
Also, photographs taken by Lynda of children from around the world
were selected by the Columbus Community Hospital to be placed in
the children’s play area of the reception area of the Columbus
Medical Clinic and are on display for everyone to view.
She is a former president of the Columbus Garden Club and before
moving to Colorado County, she has held numerous charity positions
in Houston and Dallas.
She has also been involved in the local community, having
photographed the July 4th Parade for the Columbus Chamber of
Commerce and has presented several power point presentations to
various community groups on different subjects using her
Local Artist Mary Richter said she knows Lynda as a personal friend
and that Lynda is very dedicated to her photography.
“She pays attention to detail in her artwork,” Richter said.
Richter also said since Lynda travels all over the world, she has
acquired a vast amount of knowledge and knows the details of
photography as an art form.
“She has done excellent work,” Richter said.
Check upcoming editions of The Citizen for the next installment of
the Local Artist Series.
Photography sparks passion
Pictured is Local Artist Ken Sparks, seated far left, along with
his poker group, dressing up in western attire in a photo titled,
“Choir Practice,” which he said is a term used by Sparks and his
friends when they call each other at the office and need to leave a
message about why they are calling. Also pictured seated are
Maurice Kasper, Vance Elliot, Pat Hluchanek, John Bonner and Jay
Johannes. Standing are David Divin and Bob Gillespie.
The Citizen continues its Local Artist Series with
Colorado County Attorney Ken Sparks who has a passion for
photography and studying the arts.
“I have always enjoyed looking at photographs and paintings and
studying their composition and lighting,” Sparks said.
After graduating from law school, Sparks worked at the Harris
County District Attorney’s Office and met Patty, when she appeared
in court as a probation officer.
“We got married and I have been on probation ever since,” Sparks
said jokingly. “We bought property near Weimar in 1995 intending to
be weekenders. After a short time, we decided it would be a
wonderful place to raise our children and moved here permanently in
Sparks has been Colorado County Attorney since 2001.
“We have two sons, one is an attorney in Fort Worth and the
other works for an insurance company in Arlington,” Sparks said.
“We have one handsome grandson, one beautiful granddaughter and
unfortunately, one cat.”
Sparks began to study photography more elaborately during his
“Years ago, I took two community college courses on photography
when I lived in Houston and was a member of the Houston Photo
Chrome Club with monthly meetings and competitions,” Sparks said.
“This was before digital cameras.”
More recently, Sparks said, he purchased a Canon 7D digital
camera along with several different lenses and has been attending
monthly meetings and field trips with the Live Oak Camera Club in
“I also took a short course offered at the Live Oak Art Center
on photography taught by Tommy Truchard,” Sparks said. “My
photography has improved by leaps and bounds since I have been
active in the Live Oak Camera Club. Membership in the club with its
monthly meetings and photo assignments keeps me busy taking
pictures, which is the best way to improve. I also do a lot of self
study through photography books and magazines.”
When asked who has inspired Sparks regarding his photography
artwork he replied that Jerry Brown of Fayetteville has been a
“He is a leader in the Live Oak Camera Club and his good humor
and excellent pointers inspire all of the members to become better
photographers,” Sparks said. “Jerry is a premier photographer who
spends a lot of his time encouraging other photographers who want
Sparks also said Art Stokes, a fellow camera club member from
Round Top, has inspired him by literally creating art through his
photographs, which look more like paintings.
During the past few years, Sparks has exhibited photographs at
the Live Oak Art Center and the Art Guild of Fayetteville and has
entered photos in the Colorado County Fair.
“I enjoy photography exhibits and galleries to see what other
photographers have done,” Sparks said. “It is amazing how a
different set of eyes can compose a much different photo of the
same subject matter.”
Ken Sparks photography has also been recently recognized with
awards in the local area.
“In 2011, two of my photographs received awards for Best of Show
and Reserved Best of Show at the Colorado County Fair,” Sparks
Sparks has been a member of the Live Oak Art Center since 1996
and spoke with great admiration of how the art center promotes the
arts in the local community.
“It is a cultural oasis,” Sparks said. “The varied exhibits,
community outreach and classes for youngsters make it a valuable
resource for our citizens.”
When asked how he is involved in the arts in the local
community, Sparks responded that he is one of the leaders in the
Live Oak Camera Club and the he is always helping to recruit new
Also, Sparks has donated framed photographs to various
non-profit organizations to sell at live and silent auctions.
LOAC Gallery Administrator Tommy Truchard said Sparks’
photographs can usually be easy to recognize due to their luminous
“In our current member’s exhibit at the LOAC, there is a great
photo of Henry Potter shaping a cowboy hat at Potter’s Western
Store taken by Ken that is a great example of this luminous
technique also known as Highly Dynamic Range (HDR),” Truchard said.
“HDR imaging is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic
range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than
current standard digital imaging techniques or photographic
Truchard added that this wide dynamic range allows HDR images to
more accurately represent the range intensity of intensity levels
found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to faint
starlight, and is often captured by way of plurality of differently
exposed pictures of the same subject matter.
“Sparks has wonderfully mastered this technique and has truly
made it his own style by combining this process with his already
existing approach,” Truchard said.
Check upcoming editions of The Citizen for more installments of
the Local Artist Series.
Local artist finds passion in photography
This week, The Citizen continues its Local Artists Series with
local business owner Beckey Zajicek.
Beckey has been a member of the local community since 1968 and has
been the owner of Beckey’s Café in Columbus for the past eight
years. She is currently a member of the Live Oak Art Center Board
Her two sons and their families also reside in Colorado County.
Over the years, when Beckey has not been too busy working at the
café or spending time with her kids and grandchildren, she has
found a love for a variety of the arts.
Zajicek has been passionate for the arts for many years and in the
early 1980s, she began to work with painting and oil pastels. Since
she has been busy running her local café in recent years, she has
found less time to be able to continue her love of painting.
However, a little over four years ago, a friend of Beckey’s lent
her a Nikon camera to see if she could figure out how to use it
“I wanted to figure out how to use it and take a good picture,”
Soon, Zajicek became more and more interested in photography and
found out taking a picture was more than just pointing and shooting
at a random person, place or thing.
As Beckey continued to pursue her interest in photography, she
began reading books on the subject as well as magazines and bought
her own Nikon camera within the past year.
“I have worked really hard in self teaching myself on the subject,”
She also searched for a course to gain further knowledge on such
aspects as lighting and depth of field, but could not find a course
available at any of the area colleges within an hour radius.
She later found classes available in contemporary photography at
the LOAC in Columbus and decided to sign up. The course, instructed
by LOAC Gallery Administrator Tommy Truchard, helped Beckey observe
things she hadn’t seen before while taking pictures.
“He has become a great friend and is very encouraging with my work
in photography,” Zajicek said.
Truchard said he also made a friend for life when Beckey enrolled
in his class at the LOAC.
“I never had a student with so much eagerness to learn,” Truchard
said. “Even though the class focused on seeing other photographer’s
works and taught students to be familiar with known influences in
their own craft. I believed Beckey walked away from the class with
so much more.”
Truchard added that she produced a wonderful series of photographs
derived of people in their living rooms.
“It was the most contemporary thing I had ever seen from her and
yet it fit who Beckey is so well,” Truchard said. “Beckey is so
great with people and why wouldn’t her artwork say just
She has also become a member of the Live Oak Photo Society in
Columbus during the past couple of years where she has been able to
discuss her passion for the art form and find ways to continue to
improve her craft. She also spends as much of her spare time as she
can taking photos whenever she finds the opportunity.
“I go out and practice what I learn from my courses whether it is
improving lighting in my pictures while taking photos of blue bells
near Fayetteville, or taking photos of wildlife,” Beckey
Zajicek recently took a few pictures of an eagle near the Colorado
River that she spoke proudly of. She added she has enjoyed taking
photos of wildlife and pictures at area events such as parades but
her favorite type of photography is travel photography.
“Last year, my friend Mary Frenzel and myself visited the Guadalupe
Peak near El Paso where we took a lot of scenic photos and captured
the west Texas atmosphere,” Zajicek said.
In the past couple of years, Beckey also received recognition in
local contests for her artwork.
She was awarded a reserve best in show in the 2009 Colorado County
Fair for a picture of her grandson. Beckey took first place in 2010
in The Citizen’s Kids and Pets photography contest. Also, Beckey’s
photo titled, “Not the Last Picture Show” was picked in the Top 40
out of 250 entered works of art to be entered in this year’s Juried
Art Show at the LOAC in May.
Beckey said she has passed her love for photography to some of her
friends and employees at the café and they have continued a
tradition of posting photos they have felt portray artistic merit
on a bulletin board near the register of the café.
“Customers have become interested in photos on display and have
asked questions of how and where they were taken,” Zajicek
Beckey added that her interest in photography has just begun and
she hopes to continue to enter contests in the future and hopefully
win, to expand her knowledge and improve her artwork in the
As a member of the board at the LOAC, she said she loves to be
around people who share her interest in art and is proud there are
more members of the LOAC art club who share an interest in
photography then there have been in the past.
“Now, there are not just painters and sculptors, but many people
who truly find art in taking pictures,” Zajicek said. “Photography
has been accepted as a popular art form in the local area more than
In regards to the future, Beckey said on any given day she can be
found walking somewhere in the community and capturing art while
taking photos with her camera.
“I hope to continue to take pictures whenever I can and see what
makes an interesting photo,” Beckey said.
Artist sculpts history back to life
The Citizen continues its Local Artist series this week with a
county resident who has ties to the Smithsonian Museum in
Washington, D.C . and is a member of the Columbus Chamber of
Amanda Danning has had a fascination for the arts dating back to a
young age of 3, when her mother would find her drawing pictures of
horses and depicting early indications of what would become an
As years went by, Amanda found herself becoming more intrigued by
all aspects of art, but most especially sculpting.
“I find it the most enjoyable,” Danning said. “It is a presence you
just can’t get with two dimensional paintings.”
She recalls how when she was a young girl in the mid 1970s, she
first witnessed an artist’s replica of Michaelangelo’s “David”
while visiting Dallas. While seeing and touching the piece of art
and studying it in person, she knew that sculpting was the form of
art she most identified with.
“It put the awe in me and I realized art was more than just a
coloring book,” Danning said. “Prior to discovering the replica of
“David,” I knew I could paint or draw but sculpting became
something I could aspire to do and for me, art became something
It was also her love for sculpting that helped lead her into her
career in forensic facial reconstruction.
Amanda grew up in a small Texas town called Mabank where she
graduated from high school and continued her education outside of
the Lone Star State. She studied the arts at Florida Atlantic
University where she received a B.S. in Art and a Master’s Degree
Her expertise in facial reconstruction has become not only a
passion of hers, but also a career she takes full pride in.
She pointed out that the remains of a skull provide clues to
personal appearance. The brow ridge, the distance between the eye
orbits, the shape of the nasal chamber, the shape and projection of
the nasal bones, the chin’s form and the overall profile of the
facial bones all determine facial features in life.
Some of her career highlights so far include being the Director of
Exhibits at the Museum of Health and Medical Science in Houston and
also for the past six years, a Consultant at the Smithsonian
Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington,
While working forensic facial reconstruction, Danning works with a
forensic anthropologist to interpret skeletal features that reveal
the subject’s age, sex, and ancestry, as well as anatomical
features like facial asymmetry, evidence of injuries (for example,
a broken nose), or loss of teeth before death.
The majority of the forensic work Danning has accomplished has been
with Dr. Douglas Owsley of The Smithsonian, the head of Physical
Anthropology and Forensic Anthropology. She added that it has been
an honor to work with him over the past few years as she continues
from one project to the next.
Some of the steps in reconstruction that Danning has worked to
excel in her craft include applying markers to indicate the depths
of tissue to be added to the skull. Studies over the past century
of males and females of different ancestral groups determine the
measures of these particular depths. Amanda uses the Manchester
Method where she builds the major muscle groups around the eyes and
the mouth before filling in between the depth markers and adding
The next step is to begin to refine the features around the
artificial eyes as the lips take shape and facial contours are
smoothed. Subtle details are then added accurately to personalize
Through her forensic work, Amanda has also become a storyteller and
presenter of the projects she has worked on.
Her enthusiasm for her forensic art and the historical elements
connected are shown as she informs the audiences of her
Danning has talked to clubs, civic groups and museums along with a
variety of other groups on the subject.
Some of her presentations have included “Skeletons in My Closet”
which is an overview of her work as a forensic sculptor with
emphasis on the Horn Shelter Exhibit in Clifton; and the “Forgotten
Faces of Fort Craig” which is the compelling story of looting of
the Fort Craig, New Mexico cemetery and the efforts to identify the
remains of Buffalo Soldiers which includes a facial reconstruction
of Private Thomas Smith.
Regarding Texas history, her presentation, “Making Heads and
Telling Tales of San Jacinto,” Danning tells the story of six
skulls of Mexican soldiers killed on the battleground at San
Jacinto and collected by James J. Audebon in the late 1830s and
includes work on the facial reconstruction of the soldiers.
Also, “The Levi Morris Story,” Danning informed, tells the tragic
tale of one of the Buffalo Soldiers buried at Fort Craig
Amanda also talked about a project she worked on regarding a young
boy (approximately 17 years old) from Kent England named James
Mutton. He traveled on the Godspeed in the early 1600s with a
serious tooth ailment to the new world to survive the trip to
Jamestown only to be the first casualty of the settlement, killed
by an Indian attack in the settlement.
Danning pointed out, that details of Mutton’s tragic life, who was
buried in an unmarked grave at the fort in Jamestown, would have
remain unknown without the research provided from the forensic
The reconstruction of Mutton, Danning said, along with a
reconstruction of Bartholomew Gosnold, the Captain of the Godspeed
and considered the “architect of Jamestown” is currently on display
as the “Written in Bone” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Natural
She has also given a presentation of her reconstruction work of
James Mutton in the “Written in Bone” exhibit at the Smithsonian
Folklife Festival” that takes place the last week of June and first
week of July at the mall in Washington, D.C.
“It was quite an event,” Danning said. “An estimate of 2.3 million
went through the whole festival.”
Danning added that she is currently working on a reconstruction of
remains of a person found as a result of the LaBelle shipwreck that
took place in 1658.
“The Texas Historic Commission at Texas A&M did the
archaeological dig at Matagorda Bay and actual ship pieces have
been discovered,” Danning said.
She said the remains of the person, who at this time may be
identified as “C. Barrange” but it is not certain, she has been
working on for reconstruction died of dehydration while trying to
hide away from the local Indians.
An exhibit featuring actual pieces of the ship and reconstruction
of the remains of the man currently identified as Barrange, Danning
said, is scheduled to be on display at the Bob Bullock Museum in
Austin in 2013.
Though Amanda has received recognition and acclaim for her forensic
sculpting abilities, she is also an accomplished sculptor in the
Whenever the opportunity comes calling, Amanda enjoys getting her
hands on clay and molding something unique and has worked in and
with all sorts of subject material an in various scales using a
variety of different media which includes wood, bronze and resin
She revealed two artists that have most inspired her are August
Rodin and N.C. Wyeth.
“Both took a slightly new twist in their medium and took their work
very seriously in spite of people telling them they did not do it
the right way,” Danning said. “These two artists were not
rebellious yet were truly creative. They used non-traditional
methods in very traditional mediums to interpret traditional
subjects creating looks that are uniquely their own. Even today,
100 years later, their work is recognizable at a glance. They took
art seriously and made good livings at their crafts without patrons
She added that she respects Rodin and Wyeth’s work so much because
they moved forward in advancing their craft without being arrogant
Along with her passion for sculpting, she continues to enjoy
drawing and painting, dating back to when she began drawing horses
at the youthful age of 3.
That passion for drawing was the prelude to an artistic journey
which continues today when she sets brush to canvas.
Amanda has been commissioned to do portraits, both personal and
historical. Even though she paints primarily in oils, she also
enjoys drawing in pastels as well.
When it comes to collecting art, Amanda’s favorites are oil
paintings and prints (printmaking) and etchings.
When asked about the importance of art in education Danning
emphasized that even with state budget cuts reaching a high point
in public education, art is everywhere, reflected in the current
society and does not have to be limited to one subject.
“Much of human history has been preserved in art from cave
paintings, hieroglyphics and more modern events such as the
photographs of 9/11,” Danning said. “Art should be incorporated
into more traditional subjects including math and how it would
apply to carpenters and architects, creative writing and journalism
and how illustrations and lay out is an integral part of newspaper
or magazine design. Even mechanics use illustration to translate
complex mechanisms to individuals both in and out of the
Danning said that there should also be opportunities for students
to study painting and sculpture but if the system doesn’t have the
money for separate art classes, it is better to show the youth that
art is part of everyone’s everyday lives and not leave it a
“In this way, each individual student has opportunity to connect to
what is practical in art while having an avenue to discovering the
divine aspects of art,” Danning said.
Amanda has been a member of the Columbus community for nearly two
and a half years and spoke highly of the Live Oak Art Center in
Columbus. She said it is one of the best art centers in central
Texas and respects the board and staff for keeping its reputation
of highest regard.
“They are truly committed to keeping alive and sustaining and
promoting artists in Texas,” Danning said. “They have a good foot
in history and a good foot in recognizing modern/local
Amanda was also a co-judge for the Texas Society of Sculptors Art
Contest that took place on July 17 of last year.
Amanda continued by saying that how much she loves working in
forensic facial reconstruction, the work is intermittent and does
not pay too well.
She also divides her busy schedule working on the Columbus Chamber
of Commerce Board and is working on putting together a new art
contest, promoting Central Texas and Columbus at next year’s spring
Live Oak Festival.
Amanda also gives talks to local schools and civic organizations
about facial forensic reconstructions and how to make a living as
Amanda has been married to Jim Brasher for the past two years and
they live four miles north of Columbus.
Jim spoke proudly of his wife’s artistic background and even
mentioned how her exhibit was the second most visited at the
Smithson Folklife Festival.
“She is a great speaker and can tell a story to an audience,”
Amanda went on to say she is proud to be connected to such an
historic town but that the future of arts in the city could be
dramatically improved by improving the art culture.
“Columbus is one of the oldest chartered cities in Texas, has a lot
of history and is aesthetically pleasing,” Danning said. “The
history of Columbus and its art community is something we need to
promote. Art never goes away. We just need to organize and promote
Check upcoming editions of The Citizen for more installments of the
Local Artist Series.
Potter gives credit to God for his talents
This week The Citizen continues its Local Artist series with a
carpenter who is a fifth generation native of the Columbus area and
gives credit for his artistic ability to the good Lord.
Mark Potter, who resides just north of Columbus, where his
workshop and art studio are located, has been a carpenter for most
of his life. His love for carpentry became his profession dating
back to 1978.
“I will always be a carpenter,” Potter said. “The art part is
used to enhance what I do. It is something unique, whether it is a
dwelling or a simple centerpiece on the table or a wall
With a background of wood and metal working supported by
mechanical abilities, Mark has created enhancements for homes,
churches and business in the central Texas area. His work has
incorporated consultation, design and execution into furnishings
such as doors, windows, curved staircases, architectural trusses as
well as furniture and non-functional art form pieces.
“These unique items are achieved by methods of special milling,
carving, turning and custom moldings,” Potter said.
Mark uses woods native to Texas in his art projects and also
incorporates iron into his work and occasional hammered artwork
into copper clad doors.
Mark has been involved with the Live Oak Art Center off and on
since the 1980s and was part of a one-man show in 1985 at the
“It was an honor to be asked to do one,” Potter said.
Included in the show were some of Mark’s woodwork, turnings and
He has participated in art shows in the central Texas area
including the Winedale Festival where some of his custom home
furnishings were on display such as tables. Mark also received the
Judge’s Choice Award in the Texas Furniture Maker Show in Kerrville
within the past 10 years.
Potter has had some of his artwork, including chairs and tables
that he built on display at Copper Shade Tree in Round Top and also
on display at the Industrial Country Market off of Highway 71 north
His carpentry work has been hands on and self taught throughout
his life and he works hard on bringing creative problem solving to
“It’s what I do every day,” Potter said. “My work comes from a
focal point that someone wants something unique and that they can’t
When asked where he learned his craft his answer is simple and
full of faith.
“More often than not, people want to attribute my success to
some influence such as a formal training or an incarnation of some
sort or perhaps being lucky. My response of my success is if there
is something pleasing about my work, God gets the credit because I
am only the tool that he uses to create these things,” Potter
His work on completing the double doors at the entrance of the
First United Methodist Church in Columbus and the front doors at
Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Frelsburg demonstrates the
artistic detail and passion he puts into building his artwork when
his faith in God takes a hand.
Father Wayne Flagg, Pastor for Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic
Church in Frelsburg and St. Roch Catholic Church in Mentz, said the
work he has accomplished at Mentz and Frelsburg is incredible,
including the doors at Sts. Peter and Paul and the altar and
sanctuary at St. Roch.
“He is always conscientious of his work and has a sense of what
they mean to the church,” Flagg said.
Father Flagg was also impressed with a wood carving of a
pelican, which symbolizes the Eucharistic Mass, located in the
church at Mentz and finding out how it was one of Potter’s earliest
works he ever did.
“I was amazed of how beautiful of a piece of work it is,” Flagg
Father Flagg also pointed out how Potter was able to salvage
some long leaf pine on church property and turn it into cabinets
and doors to be used by the church community.
“He has left work at the churches for many to appreciate in the
generations to come,” Father Flagg said.
While turning over his faith to his artwork, Potter has been
able to share his ability with those who appreciate and acknowledge
his talent as Potter continues to produce his unique and artistic
Mark’s work can also be seen at his home by calling and making
an appointment at 979-732-9535.
Family’s love of art inspires local artist
This week, The Citizen continues its Local Artist Series with a
retired teacher who has had a family background in the arts.
Colorado County resident Paulina van Bavel-Kearney has embraced the
arts all the way back to her childhood and is proud of her family
“My parents are Dutch, immigrants to this country after World War
II, and they had a strong love of the arts,” Kearney said. “My
grandfather taught fine furniture design of the modern
Paulina grew up in Arizona and graduated from high school in Tempe.
During those years she, along with her family, spent a lot of time
exploring American Indian art, both visiting the ancient pueblo
sites and going to see collections of art in the local
“My family always collected art to display in our home,” Kearney
said. “I saw their appreciation and wanted to create artwork myself
from an early age.”
Kearney said she discovered that she loved to draw and paint but
her favorite medium of art through the years has become clay.
“I used to create pottery that was useful, such as dishes and
vases, bowls for serving food, but I also loved to make pieces that
had symbolic meaning and were just made to look at for decorative
or expressive purposes,” Kearney said.
After completing high school, Kearney arrived in the Lone Star
State and attended the University of Texas at Austin.
“It was an excellent art school and I was able to study under many
fine artists and teachers,” Kearney said. “I paid my way through
school with loans and a job showing images of artwork for the art
history classes in the art department. I sat in almost every art
history class that the school offered over those five years. It was
a double education. I am constantly reading, looking at art,
staying up with what my friends are doing and studying exhibits
that are on display in museums around the world.”
Paulina also pointed out that the Internet is a useful way to stay
in touch when living in a remote area.
In regards to her decision to become an art teacher, Paulina said
her parents encouraged her to become a teacher so that she would
always have a way to earn a living besides making her art, so she
had a double major in studio art and education.
“I taught ceramics for the Austin Museum of Art and for several
years, I was the studio art ceramics teacher at St. Stephen’s
Episcopal School in Austin,” Kearney said.
Paulina later married Jim Kearney and moved to Colorado County in
1980 where they raised a family on the Kearney family ranch. When
her children were attending grade school in Columbus, she was asked
to begin an art program at the elementary level in the Columbus
Independent School District.
Paulina taught at CES for eight years, cycling all of the students
through her program in the year.
“It was a very popular part of the school day because it was the
first time many children were ever exposed to making creative
things with their hands and learning about the great works of art
made by man through the ages,” Kearney said. “Priorities changed in
the school district and I was moved to the high school where I
taught for 10 years, eventually moving into the Marley Giddens
The facility was completed in 2006 and currently houses the fine
arts program at CHS as well as the new gymnasium.
“I retired from teaching after 20 years to devote my energy to my
artwork full time,” Kearney said.
Local artist Tracey Wegenhoft spoke of how her son, Tray, who
graduated from Columbus High School in 2006, was a student of
Kearney’s in high school.
“My son had Mrs. Kearney for four years in high school art,”
Wegenhoft said. “He always talked about how she was an inspiration
and he really felt privileged to have someone of her talent and
prestige that guided him in learning art. He still practices his
art today based on what she taught him.”
Pertaining to the importance of art as a subject in public
education, Paulina said the creation of art is one of the most
basic human urges.
“It is one of the endeavors that set us apart from being mere
animals,” Kearney said. “If we live a life just occupied with our
need for survival, for food and shelter, never expressing the side
of our nature that is developed through music, dance, art,
literature, we have not fulfilled our human potential. It would be
a poor existence.”
She added that a great public school for a great state and a great
nation would embrace the teaching of the creative arts with the
“It is how we develop empathy for other people, other cultures,”
Kearney said. “Respect for the culture and human viewpoint of
others is very sadly lacking in our society.”
Artists that have inspired Kearney through the years include a
diverse group, from American Indian potters from a bygone era to
Two artists that have fascinated Paulina in regards to pottery were
Maria Martinez and Lucy Lewis, Pueblo Indian potters from the early
1930s. Also the ancient Greeks and Romans who created the Attic
figure vases also informed her artwork.
“My teacher at UT, Ishmael Soto, empowered me to be involved in
all aspects of ceramics, from clay making to kiln construction, the
chemistry of glazing, throwing pots on a potter’s wheel and having
above all, studying the clay making cultures from around the
world,” Kearney said. “I also love the early modern painters such
as Cezanne, Picasso, Klee and Matisse. Their drawings are all very
inspirational to me.”
Paulina said her first big break as an artist was being chosen to
have a six month stipend to create her art in a beautiful location
near Austin, the Paisano Ranch, donated to use for writers and
artists by J. Frank Dobie, the writer, teacher and collector of
Texas cowboy stories.
“Having a woman show at the Austin Museum in Art in the 1980s was
also a high point,” Kearney said. “I have had a wonderful series of
galleries represent me in Santa Fe, New Mexico and getting to
travel there in the summers to bring my artwork for sale has also
been a great reward for me.”
Paulina began showing in galleries when her artwork evolved into a
unique style that incorporated the American Indian art with ancient
Greek and Roman techniques and modern technology. It began with
teaching students about ceramic cultures of the past.
“After showing in galleries in Austin and Dallas and Houston, I was
asked to prepare numerous one-woman shows of my artwork throughout
Texas, and in regional museums in our state,” Kearney said. “My
work has been in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in
Houston for many years, and most recently the Art Museum of South
Texas in Corpus Christi acquired a piece for their permanent
collection. It is on display right now.”
Kearney said she hopes to get more pieces in other public
collections so that her contributions will be remembered in the
Through the years, Paulina has dedicated time to her pottery in
making her artwork as meticulous and personal as possible.
“My work is polished by hand with a clay and water mixture known as
‘slip’ in potter’s language,” Kearney said. “It is made from the
earthenware clay that I use to make the pots, but refined so that
it can build up a many layered shine on the surface of a smooth,
dry clay pot. The artwork is individually packed into sawdust
filled bowls that are custom made, known as ‘saggers.’ Each piece
cools in the ashes of the sawdust and it is the magic of the
minerals in the clay reacting to the smoldering patterns of burning
sawdust that produces the unique colors on each piece. The high
heat of the kiln makes the shiny surface permanent.”
Paulina added that each year she demonstrates her technique at an
all pottery show in Gruene during the month of October. Next year
will be the 20th year of the Texas Clay Festival that invites only
artists whose work is of the highest quality.
“The gallery at Round Top is the closest place to carry my work on
a regular basis,” Kearney said. “My studio is next to my home so
it is not a retail place, but is open by appointment for
collectors. You can see several examples of my work in the Live
Oak Art Center Members show and a special collection will be
available for the Ladies Night Out in December.”
Paulina has been a member of the Live Oak Art Center since the
early 1980s when she began teaching children’s clay classes in the
“The early members of the art center had a great vision to enrich
our community, and their efforts have been doubled and tripled
through the years by many wonderful people who understand how
important it is to see and experience creations and to create art
yourself,” Kearney said. “It is a remarkable, professional and
inspiration asset in our community and I only hope everyone would
take advantage of going in there and seeing what they have to
After retiring from teaching this spring, Paulina continues to
contribute to the art community in whatever way she can.
“I have been active as a volunteer teacher at the art center,
serving on the board of directors and various committees throughout
the years,” Kearney said. “I helped to reorganize the Live Oak
Festival many years ago when the Columbus Historic Preservation
Trust dropped their sponsorship of the outdoor food and music. In
the early days, that was one of the only times the public came out
to see the artwork displayed. Now we have an ongoing, constantly
changing art display in the LOAC gallery where the artwork may be
seen in air conditioned comfort.
Paulina’s husband Jim also has a background in education and
teaching. Jim’s father was a rancher while his mother was a school
teacher and a librarian. Through the years, Jim has been a German
teacher in Columbus and also in Katy.
Paulina and Jim have given their utmost effort to follow in the
footsteps of the previous Kearney generation, living on the family
ranch and contributing their time to schools over the years and
also to raise awareness of history, literature and culture. They
have also contributed their time to the Nesbitt Memorial Library
and both have played historic roles in the annual Live Oaks and
Dead Folks Cemetery Tour.
“The late Bill Stein asked Jim and I to be characters in the first
tour in 2003 and we have been involved ever since,” Paulina said.
“I love getting into the characters and thinking about their lives
in a very personal way. I imagine what it would be like to go
through their experiences and try to portray that.”
Paulina said since she is somewhat familiar with the German
language, she can adapt her voice to the accent so Bill Stein often
gave her German heritage roles to perform in the cemetery
“This year I played a ‘proper’ Southern lady artist and I had fun
doing that accent to,” Kearney said. “I like talking directly to
the audience in character and improvising to engage them with a
little humor or evoking the sadness of their stories which are
often very emotional. One of my most difficult roles was to play
the mother of a girl who was murdered at a very young age.”
Paulina said the late Bill Stein used the role playing mini dramas
to inform the audience with verifiable facts from original source
material about the little known contributions, both good and bad,
of former citizens of Colorado County.
“It is a great way to absorb some history and get a unique view of
our town in the dark of the cemetery,” Kearney said. “It was great
to see so many young people enjoying this adventure. We have some
great community people working in our library and volunteering to
benefit Colorado County. It is a great place to live.”
Whether it is teaching students in the classroom or the local art
center, finding enjoyment in her pottery, or performing in the
annual “Live Oaks and Dead Folks,” Paulina van Bavel-Kearney lives
art and expresses her passion for the arts in her everyday
Richter is living the dream, in her own style
This week, The Citizen continues its Local Artist series with a
long-time Columbus citizen who has not only been a student of the
arts and an art teacher over the years, but has also become an
innovator of her own style of art.
Mary Richter, also known as “Ms. Mary” to the local community,
has been a citizen of Columbus for nearly 50 years and has had a
passion for art for most of her life.
Whether it is refining her artwork in realism through the years
or experimenting in the abstract, Mary has thrived on art.
“My artistic side seems to work in different ways and in a
dream-like state I try to think things through,” Richter said. “No
sense of scale, no measurement, no apertures, no tricks of the
trade. In this dream-like state things just happen for me.”
Mary was raised in St. Louis, Mo. and took art classes while
attending high school at St. Joseph’s Academy and at Webster
College. Her love of the arts continued after she moved to Texas,
where she taught art basics off and on through the years as a
traveling teacher in cities such as Columbus, Sealy, Brenham,
Bellville and in Houston.
“I enjoyed teaching students how to get something on canvas,”
Richter said. “We would all ‘paint along,’ working together.”
Mary was even featured in the number 43 edition of Palette Talk
Magazine, published by Grumbacher, Inc., in 1980 in a “Teacher
Feature” article. The feature focused on such aspects as Mary
instructing students on color mixing and how to paint a perched
Mary said even though she has enjoyed the opportunity to teach,
she has always been a student of art and recalls being inspired by
artists like figurative painter Dick Turner and Joe Perez, an
expert in figure drawing, when they taught classes in Houston.
Also, in the mid 70s Mary was part of a three-person art group
that worked on paintings as big as two by four feet in TV
demonstrations in malls across Houston. She recalled how each
artist in the group would work on a specific segment of the
painting and would switch locations after a while to another
segment where one of their colleagues had been painting and
complete the artwork in a matter of hours. The painting would then
be auctioned off by the end of the day.
Mary and her two colleague artists dressed in colorful, artsy
wardrobes which brought character to their act.
“It was a good time,” Richter said. “We always had a lot of
Raising six children meant it was not possible to teach art full
time over the years, but that did not mean she lost her desire to
be involved in the art world and has been a member of the Live Oak
Art Center for more than three decades.
In later years, Mary helped organize along with the late Buddy
Rau, the Historical Walking Tours in 1987 and developed a walking
tour map and originated the “Texas Pioneer Trail” Map.
She served as a Chairperson for three years for the Magnolia
Homes Tour Window Displays, three years on the decorating committee
for the Magnolia Black Tie Ball and was a member of the Art
Commission for the Columbus Quincentennial Commission.
Mary has served as a judge of children’s art work for schools
and the Colorado County Fair as well as being the chairperson of
the art show for five years, organizing the first art show for the
County Fair and the Fine Arts Catalog rules and regulations.
She served on the St. Anthony School board for many years and
contributed to many of the school’s projects. She helped originate
the first carnival in 1964.
She also completed a four by eight foot painting of bluebonnets
in a country landscape that was donated by the hospital auxiliary
to be hung on one of the walls of the Columbus Community
She has been happy to find ways to contribute to the local
hospital in whatever way she can, whether it’s through donations or
having one of her artworks hanging up for everyone to see.
“We are fortunate to have such a wonderful hospital in our
community,” Richter said.
In recent years, Mary has studied photography and has even
invented her own term in a style of artwork she has made her
“All my photos are taken with a point and shoot camera,” Richter
said. “The photographs are not manipulated in the computer in any
way except to print on water color paper and then to color with
Prisma Pencil colors.”
She said the prisma pencils are of the highest quality colored
lead and cannot be erased once the color is on the photo.
“The idea came to me when trying to incorporate my years of art
into the photograph,” Richter said. “I had taken a class from Tommy
Truchard at the Live Oak Art Center, who made me aware that it was
alright to see things in a different way than others. This led to
my interest in the photo and I joined the class with photographers
but I was still looking for a different approach to the picture. I
began to experiment with papers and the pencils.”
This led to Mary brainstorming the word for her innovative
“The word Photoprisma came to me to explain just what I was
doing with the picture and it made sense in the description of the
work,” Richter said. “It gave me my own style, my own art term and
it opened new enjoyments to my art world.
LOAC Gallery Administrator Truchard was impressed with Mary’s
unique approach to photography while observing her artwork in his
“Mary was never too afraid to take a risk when making art,”
Truchard said. “I love how she constantly thinks outside the box.
Her ideas are always fresh and inventive.”
Local artist Beckey Zajicek, who has taken photography classes
with Mary at the art center in Columbus, said she has been an
inspiration in how she approaches art with an open mind.
“Mary is a wonderful artist who is always coming up with great
ideas,” Zajicek said. “She is a pillar to the community in the art
world and it is a real pleasure to be a friend of hers.”
Mary commented that if she is asked whether she is a painter, an
artist or a wannabe photographer, her reply is straight to the
“I only know that I need to create and to change things, to see
things with a different sense of awareness. I am a ‘how’d they do
that’ kind of person.”
Wegenhoft’s artistic passion
This week, The Citizen continues its Local Artist series with a
Columbus citizen who found a love for the arts dating back to her
childhood and has been passionate about contributing to and
participating in the arts in the local community.
Tracey Wegenhoft, of Columbus, recalled how she grew up and
attended school in Wichita Falls. Although she was unable to
participate in most of the art classes or programs offered to the
youth there, she always found herself immersed in artistic projects
in one form or another while growing up. At school, Tracey said she
was known as a “brain who was good at art.”
“I have loved art as long as I can remember,” Wegenhoft said. “I
remember my daddy buying me my first little art tablet and from
then on, no matter where I was, I had my table and pencils in tow
in case I needed to capture something that caught my eye. It was
almost an obsession with me.”
Tracey added that since she was not able to take advantage of the
art programs at Wichita, she had to find her own way.
“In the long run, it worked out best,” Wegenhoft said.
Among the artists in the area who exhibit at the Live Oak Art
Center, Wegenhoft is known for her funky, eclectic style of “found
Examples of this style include a painting she completed in the guts
of an old 1960s console television or a mock-up of a constructed
circus wagon painted to mimic a hurdy-gurdy box with a wildly
concocted high heel shoe which was imprisoned behind brass bars.
Tracey said the piece included a small trick mirror and a special
built-in light for the full effect.
“It was hilarious,” Wegenhoft said. “I could have sold that crazy
piece three times over, but I just couldn’t part with it.”
Wegenhoft said that painting on construction pieces and adding
mosaics along with other various mixed media in her found art is
her newest passion and definitely the most fun, although
traditional oils, acrylics, pastels and cray-pas remain a big part
of her portfolio.
“People, animals and vivid landscapes are the usual subjects I
choose for my traditional artwork, but farcical situations and
humor is my focus when I’m devising my found art,” Wegenhoft said.
“I like to make people laugh or at least smile.”
After graduating from high school in Wichita Falls, Tracey attended
and graduated from Texas A&M in College Station.
Laughingly, she asked, “Can you believe I was torn between going
into art or becoming a wildlife veterinarian?”
For Wegenhoft, the science degree ultimately won out. After working
in diagnostics at the College of Veterinarian Medicine and in
various other animal research positions, she decided to move in a
“Although at the time I was terribly disappointed to not make it
into vet school, life has a way of opening other doors and that was
just fine with me,” Wegenhoft said.
She later met Joe Wegenhoft, who she married and moved to
Within a year of moving, their son Tray was born. In order to spend
time with her baby, Tracey changed careers and began teaching
science, history and art at St. Anthony School in Columbus.
“I did not go to school to become a teacher at all, far from it,
but much to my surprise, I absolutely loved it,” Wegenhoft said.
“Being around kids all day keeps you young at heart. I think it’s
the most intrinsically rewarding profession there is.”
Tracey and Joe welcomed a second son, Jake, three years
Both her sons attended SAS so Tracey was directly involved in their
“It’s a real blessing as well as a challenge to teach your own kids
in your own classroom,” Wegenhoft said.
She remained at SAS until their younger son Jake graduated from
Tracey then took a teaching job at Rice CISD where she is a AP
biology teacher at Rice High School, but has also taught physics,
IPC, environmental science, TAKS, all levels of biology and
“I love working at Rice,” Wegenhoft said. “It’s wonderful. The
staff, administration and kids are terrific.”
She said, however, once school starts, it doesn’t leave her time to
pursue her art.
Tracey said she especially looks forward to the Christmas holidays
and summer break in order to spend time working in her studio and
outside in the sunshine.
“Since I don’t have time to paint during the school year, I prepare
and plan for what art I’d like to accomplish when school lets out,”
Wegenhoft said. “My mind never rests. Everything I see is a
potential art project in the making … or a masterpiece wanna-be. I
get inspiration from the craziest things and nothing is off limits.
Beer caps, a doll leg, fishing corks, chipped dominoes, a broken
watch and deer antlers have all found their way into my art.”
Tracey said it is funny because this offbeat and bizarre style
seems to be how she is identified among the other artists.
“They seem almost disappointed when I produce a traditional
landscape or portrait anymore,” Wegenhoft said. “I don’t want to be
thought of as being too far out there with my art but an open mind
is essential to creating and appreciating all genres.”
According to Tracey, the Live Oak Art Center is the perfect place
to exchange ideas with other artists and viewing all types of
“I love talking to other artists in order to learn new techniques
of the trade or to pick up background details of a particular piece
that I like,” Wegenhoft said. “I am always fascinated to know what
draws a non-artist to a piece as well. Often a non-trained eye can
grasp an artistic concept amazingly well because they don’t get
tripped up on the minutiae of the work such as brush strokes or the
thickness of the gesso, etc. They either like it or they don’t for
whatever reason. It’s a healthy way to grow in your trade if you
listen from all sides.”
Tracey can be described as modest about her work or somewhat
hesitant or reserved about entering various art competitions.
However, she does participate in a number of local shows and has
had her work published on three separate covers of the Nesbitt
She was also in negotiations with the late Bill Stein about
providing the illustrations for his long awaited book on the feuds
of Colorado County.
Tracey has continued to retain close ties with the library in
Columbus. She is a trustee of the NML Foundation and has been a
member of the NML advisory board for many years. Each year she has
played an active part in continuing the late Bill Stein’s annual
Live Oaks and Dead Folks Cemetery Tour and has been involved with
annual production since its inception.
Tracey has been happy to contribute her time as a costume designer,
actress and has even executed a tombstone painting on canvas which
was used in the program.
Wegenhoft said the characterization must also be historically
accurate so she cannot get too crazy or carried way in the
She also talked about how sad she felt when she first found out
about the passing of Stein a few years back and how much he meant
to the historic and cultural community as an archivist, historian,
writer, art enthusiast and collector.
“The loss of this one human being was so profound,” Wegenhoft said.
“His contributions to the humanities and to the lives of so many
people can never be paralleled.”
Tracey’s theatrical side has also been known because of her many
years at the helm of the St. Anthony’s annual Punk-n-Rock show
where she was in charge of putting together the music, cast, props,
costumes and choreography for each number.
“This was a huge undertaking but I loved every minute of it …except
the one show in which my classroom burned up early that morning and
then late that night a thunderstorm rained on all of our props and
equipment and we had to urgently move everything inside minutes
before our curtain call only to find out that we had exceeded the
fire code by overflowing our capacity crowd,” Wegenhoft said. “The
kids and I gave it our all and actually, that turned out to be one
our best shows ever.”
Tracey is currently the vice president of the LOAC in Columbus and
has been a member or board member at the art center since moving to
Columbus 20 years ago.
“The art center is a real focal point for artists in the Houston,
Austin and San Antonio area,” Wegenhoft said. “It truly is one of a
kind and has a reputation for promoting and showcasing premiere
artists from all over. The community is unbelievably fortunate to
have it, in fact, I think it’s one of the most important things
that differentiates Columbus from all the other Texas towns.”
She recalled when she first moved to Columbus and discovered the
art center, she knew she had found her place.
“This is where I was going to be,” Wegenhoft said. “There are so
many talented artists who have come through the doors of the LOAC
over the years and just as many amazing artist affiliates as well,
such as instructors, curators, buyers, collectors and
gallery/museum representatives. There is just so much talent here
that it is just difficult to describe.”
Tracey is also a firm believer in art education.
“It is essential to retain and promote art classes within the
schools and community,” Wegenhoft said. “There are simply too many
kids who struggle in subjects such as math or science but who are
able to excel in other areas. Art is one of those areas. It affords
them a sense of accomplishment and self worth when they can express
Tracey continues to help assist with the art camps which take place
every summer for local youth at the art center in Columbus. She
said she loves the work LOAC Gallery Administrator Tommy Truchard
has done with the kids organizing the camps and setting up quality
instruction from award winning artists.
“He is incredibly patient and intuitive,” Wegenhoft said. “It
doesn’t take Tommy long to recognize an emerging young artist who
possesses real talent, but at the same time, he provides
encouragement and praise for those kids who frustrate easily in an
Truchard said he is enthusiastic about Tracey being appointed as
vice president of the board.
“I am looking forward to all the achievements this current board
has planned to accomplish,” Truchard said. “Tracey is such an asset
to the art center as both a member and a lover of art.”
Tracey continues to enjoy quality time with her husband at their
land where they have horses. She was also delighted to see her son,
Tray, graduate from Howard Payne University where he played
collegiate baseball. She is equally proud of Jake, who is a junior
at Texas A&M, majoring in chemical engineering.
Tracey also enjoys fossil and artifact hunting, swimming, horseback
riding, baseball games, hiking, reading a good nonfiction book,
listening to Texas music and playing with her cat, Earl, and her
Check upcoming editions of The Citizen for future installments of
the Local Artist series.
Personal experiences affect artists work
During the next few months, The Citizen will feature local
artists in the community in a series of articles.
This week’s article focuses on Pat Johnson, who served as the
director of exhibits at the Live Oak Art Center from 1998 to
Johnson has had a passion for the arts for most of her life and, as
it pertains to her artwork, life at times imitates art.
“My personal life is revealed in my work,” Johnson said. “A major
life change has occurred in my world and I have used my art as an
attempt to unveil my fears and desires. “
Pat said she tries to show the fine line between seen and the
unseen, humor and sadness and right and wrong.
“Creating art helps me clarify what I feel and believe,” Johnson
said. “Be it a social, political statement or a personal one,”
Pat was born in Kansas City, Mo. but became a resident of the Lone
Star State when she was six weeks old after her parents decided to
move to Texas. She later graduated from North Texas State
University with a bachelors of fine arts in Ceramics.
Pat has been working in clay for more than 30 years in the small
town of Fayetteville. She also does works on paper and has designed
T-shirts for singer Lyle Lovett. Some of her accomplishments
include being commissioned to produce tile murals for the College
Station Public Library, Monument Hill State Park in La Grange and
the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Austin. Also, as a Texas
Commission for the Arts artist in residence, she worked as an art
teacher and produced murals in Longview, Waco and Austin.
Johnson has been featured in numerous one-person and group shows in
Texas. They include exhibits at the Longview Museum of Fine Art,
McNay Art Museum in San Antonio and galleries such as the D. Berman
in Austin and the Hooks-Epstein Gallery in Houston. While Pat’s art
career was receiving significant recognition, she was selected to
participate in one of the first “Introductions” art event in
Houston and was represented by Houston Gallery Dealer, Thomas V.
Johnson’s artwork was included in the 1998 National Council on
Education for Ceramic Arts conference exhibition in Texas and the
2004 Juried Craft Houston traveling exhibit organized by the
Houston Center for Contemporary Crafts. She has also been the first
place winner at the Winedale Crafts Exhibition and placed second in
the 15th Annual Ceramic National at the San Angelo Museum of
Pat’s other achievements include winning numerous awards from the
Texas Clay Artist Association as well as her tile work being
included in the Lark Books publication, “500 Tiles.”
Johnson’s figurative work is coil built, slab built or cast. She
uses a unique process in her artwork of drawing on the bisque fired
clay with underglaze pencils and pastels. Pat’s recent work
incorporates a wax and underglaze technique reflecting an influence
from printmaking. Her unconventional use of materials has led her
to use oil points on bisque.
“Combining my interest in drawing and clay I have developed a style
of working on ceramics with underglaze, underglaze pencils and
pastels,” Johnson said. “It is very sensual to smear and draw on
clay. A recent exploration in techniques involves wax, underglaze
and an etching tool.”
Pat’s current artwork has been a dialog of personal disasters with
the protagonist as the artist.
During the 12 years Pat worked part time as a director of exhibits
at the art center in Columbus, Johnson also served as a board
member and chairperson of the exhibition committee. For over a
decade, while working at the Live Oak Art Center, Pat performed
such duties as selecting artists for shows, hanging exhibits and
helping the art center receive more than $50,000 in written
Johnson’s leadership as well as vision for contemporary art in
Texas led the art center to be recognized in the September 2006
issue of “Texas Monthly” and “The Art of Texas” published by the
University of Texas Press.
She also helped establish the Brunson Saloon fundraiser, Art and
Architecture Day and the Bill Stein Memorial Lecture.
Through Pat’s knowledge of the arts, she has invited such art
leaders as Gus Kopriva, Richard Stout and Jim Edwards to jury the
annual local Juried Art Show competition.
As of the present, Johnson is employed as an assistant curator of
museum collections at the Round Top Festival Institute in Round
Top. Since retiring from her duties at the art center in Columbus,
Pat also spends more time with her artwork in her studio in
This spring, she has worked on completing a 17-foot tile mural for
St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lockhart. However, she continues to
find time in her busy schedule to instruct students at the Live Oak
Art Center during the summer art camp, helping to teach what she
has learned through the years.
“The Live Oak Art Center has a special place in my heart and I hope
to continue a long relationship as an artist with the center,”
She also took third place in this year’s Juried Art Show for her
clay and under glaze, “Wishing I Was a Bird-Merganser Duck.”
Pat has also been a strong influence on her successor, LOAC Gallery
Administrator Tommy Truchard.
Truchard said he was honored Johnson took him under her wing to be
his mentor when he began working at the art center.
“I learned so much from her,” Truchard said. “There are some things
you can only learn from experience.”
He continued by saying he never thought he would get an opportunity
to serve in the community he grew up in doing what he loves most
and credit for that has to go to Pat Johnson.“
Juried Art Exhibition
Pictured center is 2011 Juried Art
Exhibition Juror Clint Willour as he takes a break from looking over the
artwork on display during the exhibit’s opening reception Saturday, May 14, at
the Live Oak Art Center. Also pictured are a few of the artists who received
honorable mention in the exhibit including, David S. Hansen, John Linden,
Sharon Joines and LOAC Gallery Administrator Tommy Truchard.
Art appreciation was abundant in the
local community during the weekend of May 14-15 in Columbus.
The opening reception of the 2011 Juried Art Exhibition took place Saturday,
May 14 at the Live Oak Art Center followed by the second annual Bill Stein
Memorial Lecture on the Arts in Texas on Sunday, May 15.
This year’s juror for the Juried Art Exhibit and lecture speaker was
Executive Director of the Galveston Art Center Clint Willour. He has been an
arts professional for over 35 years.
Willour was the director of the commercial art gallery in Houston from
1973-89 and has worked at the Galveston Art Center since 1990. He has curated
over 400 exhibitions for the institution at Galveston in the past 20 plus
‘’A juried art exhibition is only as good as the people who enter it,”
Willour said. “I know much work went into the installation of this exhibit.”
Every year, the juried exhibition is open to artists living within 150 miles
of the art center in Columbus. More than 100 artists entered the competition
this year with nearly 200 supporters of art in attendance at the reception to
view the many types of artwork. The art on display included such variety
as photography to weaving to oil on canvas, printmaking and mixed media to name
just a few.
Artists from Houston and Austin entered the juried art exhibit along with
local artists Beckey Zajicek and Mary Richter of Columbus, Amy Newland of La
Grange. Also, Shawn Roberts and Christi Hellrung, both formerly of Columbus,
competed in the art show.
Winning first place in the competition with the soft ground and collage
print, “Bruyere,” was Teresa Gomez-Martorell of Austin. Second place went to
Orna Feinstein of Houston with her three dimensional mono print on paper and
plexi, “Quantum Dynamics #22.” Third place went to Pat Johnson of Fayetteville
for her clay and under glaze, “Wishing I Was a Bird-Merganser Duck.”
Receiving honorable mention for their artwork were Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak, Kurt
Dyrhaug, David S. Hansen, Sharon Joines, John Linden and David Vollmer.
Prior to beginning the Stein Memorial Lecture on May 15, Willour thanked
Live Oak Art Center Gallery Administrator Tommy Truchard for helping to
organize the 2011 Juried Art Exhibit and for all who attended the two-day
“I couldn’t have installed it better,” Willour said. “I’m really happy with
how it looks in the space.”
During his lecture, Willour talked about many different aspects of art,
including photography, mixed media, sculpture, painting as well as many other
types of media and gave a video presentation of the Galveston Art Center’s
2010-11 Exhibitions to show a round view of the art that is being produced and
exhibited in rural parts of Texas.
A few of the artists he included in his presentations were Rusty Scruby and
Howard Sherman who are part of the Art Museum in Southeast Texas. He also
talked about Dornith Doherty, of Martin Museum of Art, Baylor University, whose
artwork exhibit included X-Ray photographs incorporated in “Archiving Eden,”
which were made at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in
Fort Collins, Colo. and the Millenium Seed Bank in England. Willour spoke of
how the mission of the seed banks was to document, preserve and maintain in an
effective way the viable seeds of diverse plants in long term storage.
Willour explained how farmers in the rural Texas community were intrigued by
the artwork in observing the seeds being harvested and appreciated the
significance of Doherty’s art exhibit.
Willour concluded his lecture by saying he plans to retire in two years
after working in a career in the arts for nearly four decades. He emphasized
the importance art throughout not only rural Texas but the state of Texas as a
whole and he encouraged artists to continue expressing the passion of their
craft in the years to come.
LOAC member Becky Zajicek attended the lecture and said the artwork Willour
presented in his slideshow was quite spectacular and made her want to visit
more rural art centers in the future.
LOAC Gallery Administrator Tommy Truchard thanked everyone who attended the
weekend art events and for all those who continue to support art in the
The 2011 Juried Art Exhibit remains on display at the Live Oak Art Center
through July 2.