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


Saturday, October 15, 2011


Here are a few backstage photos for our "Sideshow" at Seaworld. That's my area where I keep my props. Cozy, no?

Magic Mike Williams of Dallas doing his thing.

Sitting and waiting backstage are Lukas Dudek (foreground ) and Mike Williams. Waiting is part of the deal.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Doc Ed Update

Here's the latest schedule for the 2011-2012 Doc Edwards Aquifer Adventure Tour:

October 21st, N.W. Crossing Elementary
October 25th, Trinity United Methodist School
November 4th, Passmore Elementary
November 9th, Northside Enviro Fair at Texas Research Park
November 3oth, Region 20
December 3rd, Coronado Elementary
February 3rd, Carnahan Elementary

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Time Flies

I've been missing painting murals lately. It never felt like work to me. My first job the summer I was to graduate from college was painting murals for the non-profit Community Cultural Arts Organization (CCAO). We had deadlines, sure, but it never felt like we were rushed. It was all very casual. The mural discussed in the articles above was made with the assistance of the CCAO for which Alex Rubio and I worked at the time. This was the same mural where we met little Vincent Valdez for the first time. He was only eleven but he seemed pretty focused on being an artist.

We took the kid's sketches and transferred them to the wall using an opaque projector one early evening in January.
Once the painting started we let the kid's paint their section while we filled in the areas around them as well as lend a hand to the kids when needed.

I remember sitting on the scaffolding with Alex and my girlfriend at the time joking and painting. Alex was sitting next to her when he stuck his tongue out at her and she quickly slapped a coat of red paint on it. I've never laughed so hard in all my life and Alex wasn't sure what to do at first. He just sat there with his tongue hanging out.

We finished the mural in about five days and I never expected to see Vincent again but a few months later he would come around to paint a bit with Alex and I as we worked on several paintings of the Virgen de Guadalupe at the San Fernando Cathedral . Seems like only yesterday. Fun easy going times.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Art Clokey!

Today would have been Art Clokey's 90th birthday.

Funny Business

I love being a clown. I really do. I love the places it's taken me and the people I've met through clowning. This afternoon I spoke over the phone, with two fellow clowns about how to build a "crying rig". If your not familiar with what that is allow me to explain. It's prop worn about the head in a concealed fashion by clowns that allows for a stream of water to shoot out towards the audience as if the clown is crying.

I'd seen them before and thought there was a place in the marionette skeleton routine
I'm doing for the variety show at Seaworld where it would be perfect . The trouble was I wasn't sure how to make one so I tried Google but came up empty handed. I did come up with a couple of names that I was familiar with: Leon "Buttons" McBryde and Peachy Keene. They're both clowns and prop builders so I decided to contact them. I asked if they sold the rigs but neither did though both knew how to make them.They were both very helpful and generous with their time and suggestions on the supplies I needed and how to build one.

That's the wonderful thing about my conversation with them. They didn't hesitate to offer their knowledge in order to help me. You don't always encounter that kind of generosity and I'm mighty happy and proud that I experienced it with my fellow clowns who don't me from Adam but were nonetheless willing to help.

The other wonderful thing about my chat with my fellow "joeys" regarded some of the things that needed to be purchased to make the rig. You need copper and clear, flexible tubing, a "t" connector and a rubber bulb to hold the water to be squirted. It's the same idea as a squirting flower but only bigger. The only thing big enough to hold the right amount of water to produce the proper effect is an enema or douche bulb/bottle. I kept picturing myself walking up to the register of Walgreens carrying several douche and enema bulbs and trying not to laugh. Yes, it's a bit immature but you've got to admit that it would appear a little odd. If I try to explain it would only make it worse. I would say something like," I'm a clown. It's for my work. Really. It's gonna be funny." I think I need MacGyver's help. I love being a clown.

By the way, I've posted links to the websites below for Peachy Keene and Leon McBryde. They're both master prop builders and really nice people. Check out their sites if you get a chance.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Circus Memories- Winter Quarters 1995

The photos seen in the circus program are taken during Winter Quarters. The one you see above is from the 125th Edition of the RBBBC. It was shot early in the day by a photgrapher who stood atop a scaffold high enough to get us all in one shot. We had to lie down on a white cloth and try not to wrinkle it as we took our pose. Some of us had props like Chad Miller on the lower right next to Huel Speight. He chose a chair and a box of popcorn.We had a bit during "come-in" where Chad would enter the center ring as a lost spectator carrying his over-priced popcorn and over-sized ticket to interrupt the band as it played. That was the year we had the clown band and that's why some of the clowns pictured are posing with musical instruments.

Most of the clown alley had renewed their contracts for the new show including all the "First of Mays". We'd only had few rehearsals for our new gags and all was still hunky dory, that is, until we had to present our new material to the circus owner in a process commonly known as "Nuremburgs". I don't know who named it but it had been called that a good many years from what I'd been told. During this review a gag would either get a thumbs up or down. The latter meant a routine you'd worked hard to develop during the last tour would never be seen while the former meant that either the gag was fine as it was or the idea was fine but you need to rewrite it either a little or a lot.

We had so many routines, sight gags and running gags that year but by some miracle or a good bit of luck or both, most of the gags survived. Those that were cut included displays of skill not commonly seen in a circus such as a barbershop quartet and a tap dance routine which demonstrated the wide range of background, skill and experience contained in our alley that year.

Some of the material nixed in Winter Quarters would have been perfect for most any publicity event and I think was used for such occasions. I recall the tap routine being used once or twice.
The remaining material still showcased an alley brimming with talent and imagination.

Chad and I worked on a two person routine that we never bothered to show the circus owner but did perform it on a talk/variety show while the circus was in Los Angeles. It was something we developed on our own for no other reason than we liked working with each other and we needed gags whether they were for that circus or another. I often wonder if any of those routines were put to good use elsewhere. I sure hope so.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Slapstick Theater- The Thin Blue Line

There's nothing like a good British ensemble comedy, especially if it stars Rowan Atkinson.

Rained Out

It would seem that dear Mother Nature thought it best we have a day off from performing at Seaworld. The evening's shows were canceled due to the fantastic rain we've been getting the since last night. A full-blown thunder storm woke us in the middle of the night and the rain continued through most of the day. Lukas called to tell me the news of the cancellation. We'll, I think I'll go sit and read the paper. Laterz!

Sunday Morning Matinee- Napoleon (1955)

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