Arts in the Family: A Family of Artists Just Trying to Make a Living in the Wilds of Texas


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dos Amigos

Chad Miller (L) and myself in "Vaquero and Cowboy: A Campfire Conversation" at the Witte Museum.

Back in 1993 Chad Miller and I were in a play at the Witte Museum called "Vaquero and Cowboy: A Campfire Conversation" about two friends, a Mexican and Anglo cowboy who talk about their lives, their differences and similarities. It was also about the racism and violence against those Mexicans remaining in Texas after the Mexican American War. As I recall we were paid twenty dollars a show for the run and we averaged around six shows a week. Between shows Chad and I would dress in our street clothes and work on falls on the grass in front of the Witte.

That was the first time Chad Miller and I were in a play together and we had quite a bit of fun. In the past we had clowned together at various events so we felt comfortable working together in the play. Though the play was heavy handed in it's writing at times we took what scripted light moments there were and made the most of them.

In the circus we continued to work together again as clowns. We went beyond making the most of it. We performed like it was our last day on the planet sometimes with the wild abandon that comes with youth and perfectly suited for the three ring extravaganza that Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus still was at the time. There were a few stitches, bruises and concussions here and there but we never slowed down. Each show was a new challenge to win over the crowd.

Each and every show we went out during intermission to set up our props for the second half as quickly as we could so we could have extra time to improvise with the crowd. We had a football gag we did after intermission that was pure "slap and fall" heaven. So when we went out into the stands it was as these meat-headed, arrogant football players. Sometimes we worked together and other times we split up but our intent was to give the audience a sense of who our characters were and add another layer to the three minute gag that would soon follow.

We haven't worked together in years. Life sent Chad and I in different directions but if we did a show together tomorrow it would be as if no time had passed. We'd simply take up where we left off. Such is the quality of our friendship.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Return of Doc Edwards

Doc at Camp H2O March 2010.

Hello Aquifer lovers! Here's are the latest dates for Doc Edwards appearances for September:

September 24th at Scenic Hills Christian School 12:30 p.m.
September 30th at Crestview Elementary 8a.m.

I'll also be lending a hand as myself to my fellow Aquifer Explorer, Sarah, on the following dates this month:

September 11th Witte Museum Cub Scout Program 9:30 a.m.
September 20th De Zavala Elementary 8a.m.
September 28th Beacon Hill Elementary 8a.m.

More dates to come! Stay tuned true believers!

Hispanic Heritage Month

Los Wheaties. Acrylic on masonite. 16"x20".

This month is Hispanic Heritage Month so I'll be posting material related to that for the remainder of this month along with the usual things I post. Above is a painting I did a few years ago but haven't exhibited. I'm accumulating a number of paintings in the hopes of having an art show in the next year or two. So far I'm up to eight paintings but I'm thinking of working on some wood sculptures too. The subject matter will vary from piece to piece and range from whimsical to serious but all will relate to the Hispanic culture as seen through my peepers.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back in the Saddle


Just a quick update on what's up in my neck of the woods. I'll be submitting an art piece for an upcoming show in November at the Gallista Gallery titled " Revolucion e Independencia, an exhibition of new works exploring the iconic images of the 1910 Mexican Revolution". The show opens November 13th so I've got plenty of time to work on a new piece. I haven't been in an art show since 2007 but this one is special as it commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. I hope that in the process of making the piece I can pass on a little Mexican history to my children. You can never start too soon. Below is a link to a blog by Elaine Ayala with more info.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rumplestiltskinning It In The Big D !

Rehearsing a scene from the Dallas Children's Theatre production of Rumplestiltskin in 1997.

Me and a fellow actor whose name I don't recall. I didn't keep a program for this one so too bad for me! I can't tell from the costumes where the story was set. It was either in the medieval period of some planet of the original Star Trek (third season) or judging by the actor next to me maybe in Argentina where the Blue Meanies fled.

I played the comic relief character named Rollo. Surprise! Surprise! Rollo wasn't in the original tale but I played the role so well it might change the way the story is told forever.

I appeared in a few plays at the Dallas Children's Theatre (DCT)in the mid nineties. The people there were nice enough and the shows were fun to do. Rumplestiltskin was the last play I appeared in at the DCT.

My first was playing the title role in Lyle the Crocodile. I was covered head to toe in a crocodile costume that looked just like the drawing of Lyle from the book. The only way for me to see was through a thin dark fabric at the end of the snout where Lyle's mouth was. I had no peripheral vision at all. Naturally my blocking had to be precise so I wouldn't bump into a set piece, actor or fall off the stage.

It was also very, very,...very warm. I wore a body tights and on the tights was sewn foam padding to give Lyle that plump cartoony look that the girl crocs really dig. Yes, I said dig. I can't help it. I'm a child of the seventies. Anyway, I felt sorry for the wardrobe person in charge of cleaning my costume. Every Sunday for a month after the matinee performance he would show up right after the last actor got to the dressing room to gather our sweaty garments. I think I lost a few pounds for that month.

Despite the minor discomforts I found it to be a very enjoyable role because I relied entirely on pantomime to bring the friendly, reptilian character to life. I put all my clowning and acting experience to the test Unfortunately I never took any pictures of myself in costume. I was not documenting things so well at the time mainly because I didn't own a camera.

I forgot to note that the role of Lyle the Crocodile was my first acting job in Dallas and it was in an Equity house. I learned a lot about contracts and equity scale and other things every serious actor should know if he wants to succeed and thrive and not be at the mercy of unscrupulously individuals within the theatre community. I put that knowledge to good use to this day. If given the chance and the contract looked good I'd play him again in a New York minute.

Monday, September 6, 2010

More Shields and Yarnell 1973 Mime

Shields and Yarnell -"Shields in San Francisco"

In my last post about Shields and Yarnell I think I mentioned having a clipping showing a photo of them in their marching band costumes which they wore when they were street performers in San Francisco. The date for the clipping is November 26, 1998 from the Dallas Morning News I believe. I'm glad we got to see them live. Anyway, I found it while reorganizing my files. It's all old school with filing cabinets and manila folders. I love it!! I also thought I'd post a couple of clips from youtube showing them during their San Francisco days. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

RBBBC Circus Train

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of seeing our circus home, pictured above are Pammy and I in front of our train car residence for 2001. We miss it. Below is some footage of the train on it's way to it's next stop.

RBBBC Clown Alley 1995

Happy Sunday to all! I was cleaning out some boxes I had in storage and came across this postcard. It shows the Red Unit's clown alley for the 126th Edition of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. I'm on the lower right corner in the purple hat. I think we posed for the photo in front of one of the floats used for the opening parade. It's a colorful bunch isn't it? The look for the RBBBC clown alley is a bit different today.

Directly above me and to my left are the newest members to the clown alley: Chuck and Eli. Both were members of the first Clown College graduating class co-directed by Rob Mermin and Dick Monday. To the far left of the picture, second from the top is Chad Miller, my roommate from Clown College in 1993 and as we liked to say "First to Freeze in '93", being part of the first class held in Baraboo Wisconsin on the grounds of the Circus World Museum.

It was a good group of clowns, all very talented and seriously underused in the show. Still, we made the most of it. Our come-in that year was very strong I think. We had a clown band and I was the conductor. All kinds of chaos ensued each time we tried to play. There were tap dancers, skaters, a singing dog, a barbershop quartet, a cloud swing routine, a lost audience person (Chad Miller) and a neat hat tossing/catching routine at the end. All in all it was pretty good stuff and very fun to do. I think I did some of my best work that year and I don't really have much footage of it. I've seen it but never had copies made. It was always a case of," Well, so and so has a copy of it and I'll ask them later." The trouble is now I don't recall who that "so and so" was. Major bummer.
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