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


Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Roundup

Hi to all. I started this entry yesterday and forgot to post it. Friday was a tad bit busy. Sorry.

Today was a full day starting and finishing the day with Doc Edwards presentations for a gaggle of first grade kiddos at Knowlton Elementary School. The are few sounds in the world that delight me more than the sound of laughter especially the laughter of a child. My shows are educational but sprinkled in heavy doses is a my brand of silliness that helps the science medicine go down. I'd have some photos of the shows but once again my camera acted up so the photos didn't come out. Bummer! I know what I'd like Santa to bring me for Christmas.

When I wasn't doing shows I was busy drawing the remaining pages for a Texas history comic book that focuses on the period before the Mexican American War (1846-1848). I'll post some art for it as soon as I'm able but above is a color study for one possible cover.

Beyond that all is well here at Rancho Ramirez. The Christmas lights and decorations are up but we still have more we haven't put up. That's on the schedule for the weekend. It should be fun. I hope your weekend is a fun one too. Over and out!

December Sky #6

My camera hasn't been taking the best of pictures lately. They've been looking washed out and there are horizontal are visible on the image. But I really like the way the moon looked a few nights ago so I thought I'd share.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Joy of William Joyce

One of my favorite children's book authors and illustrators and filmmaker is William Joyce. I love the magical dream-like quality in his books. I'd lost touch with what he'd been up to these last few years but apparently he's been very busy. It's amazing what a little search on the internet will produce.

The first book of "The Gaurdians of Childhood" series titled "Nicolas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King" has finally been released. I've been waiting a long time for this one.

There's also "The Man in the Moon" which is somehow a part of the "Guardians of Childhood " series! It's all very exciting! More research needs to be done and I've got to re-do my letter to Santa pronto!!

Making the rounds on film festival circuit is a short film from Moonbot Studios co-founded by Joyce and based out of Louisiana. I think it's also based on another of his books called "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore". The preview looks wonderful. And it has a lead character that looks a lot like Buster Keaton my favorite silent movie clown. My fellow clownies should check this film out as should anyone should you have the chance.

December Sky #5

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holidays Are Coming!

That's right, baby!

Monuments of Man Murals

That's me giving the neighborhood kids a chance to help create a mural.

In my previous day's post I mentioned I'd be chatting a bit more on these murals that Alex Rubio and I designed and painted at the Mirasol Courts on the westside of town in 1988. The head of the Community Cultural Arts Program (C.C.A.O.) sent Alex and I out there in mid or late November. Can't remember exactly but it was a few weeks away from Christmas.

Part of the job was recruiting the neighborhood kids to help paint the murals which was part of the CCAO's mission. It wasn't simply enough to create a mural in these housing projects but it was also necessary to get the youth of the area involved in the process of mural painting. It would provide them with a unique experience, nurture a sense of pride in their community a
nd who know, maybe a child might be inspired to go into the arts.

Alex and I spent quite a bit of time researching in the CCAO's library and the city library looking through stacks of books on ancient history and American history. This was way back before the internet but even today I'd prefer to look in the library first.

Monument #1.

We tackled the Aztec pyramids first. It seemed the easiest because we already had plenty of experience painting this subject matter in many of the housing projects, many of which were predominantly Mexican-American.

Our work schedule was Monday through Friday from nine to five. I painted the foreground images to the left and most of the Aztec calendar while Alex worked on the rest of the mural. I remember being a little concerned to the time it would take to complete the calendar as we had around three weeks to work on all the murals. While I obsessed over the Aztec calendar Alex began the next mural which is pictured below.

Monument #2

A week had already passed by the time this mural was started. Alex painted the majority of this one and I focused strictly on the mask of your favorite boy pharaoh and mine: Tutankhamun or King Tut as he is commonly known.

With the deadline a little closer and the imposing number of murals to be completed we decided painting on more than one mural at a time would be best. We probably could have painted a little faster on the Aztec mural and had more time for the rest but at the the start of the project that deadline seemed so distant. In reality, the deadline was tight making it impractical for both of us to work together on one mural from start to finish.

Monument #3. The little boy in the photo above lived in the apartment to the right of the mural.

Keep in mind that during all this time we had children that helped out too. If a child showed up and wanted to paint it we handed him a brush and guided him in painting in a particular spot, say the rocky surface on the lower right of Mount Rushmore. Sometimes there might a handful of kids and other times a dozen. When school let out in the afternoon they usually came our way after they had a snack at home. Some of the kids lived in the apartments adjacent to the murals. I think this project had the most kids participating that I can recall. In general, after 3p.m. our progress slowed a bit. When you have that many little hands painting sometimes Alex and I would have to fix things the following day.

If there were too many kids for us to keep busy on the walls I provided them with markers and paper so they could draw as we rotated the kids from mural to mural. When those murals were completed they could look at hem with pride knowing the had helped make them happen.

We finished the last of the murals a few days before Christmas. Back then I was single and had no expenses other than rent and utilities for my modest one-room apartment and gas for my car. That week I decided I would give them extra toys to find under the tree on Christmas morning. I headed to the toy store buying enough toys to fill a large trash bag and then called Alex to see if he wouldn't mind driving back to the site to deliver the gifts on Christmas eve. I

I had a red Chrysler Cordoba, my sleigh, which had plenty of room for the sack of toys in the back seat. I stopped by Alex's house after dark and headed for the Mirasol Courts. The weather had finally gotten very cold that week and it was pretty windy too. It seemed like the perfect night for our Yuletide task. I decided I wanted to remain anonymous and let Alex hand out the gifts while I waited in the car.

Of all the murals I painted over the years the Monuments of Man were the most fun. Ironically, the murals are no longer there. A few years ago the San Antonio Housing Authority, which is in charge of all the low income housing projects in town, demolished to old buildings to replace them with new ones. Unfortunately preserving those murals wasn't a part of the plan. Life is funny, huh? The joke was on us. The murals, which were supposed to last for years and years only exist now in photos and our memories and now on this blog. A miniature monument to the accomplishments of a small group of people brought together for a short while but creating memories that will last a lifetime... I hope.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monuments of Man Murals

Back in 1989 when Alex Rubio and I were still working for the Community Cultural Arts Organization, we were assigned to design and paint a series of murals at Mirasol Courts in San Antonio depicting various artistic and architectural achievements through the centuries. Pictured above is sketch for one of the murals and below is the finished work. More on these murals tomorrow.

Monday Blahs

I started the day feeling a little melancholy. I don't know why. Maybe it's the change in the weather. Maybe not enough tacos were consumed this weekend. A little music always helps to lifts my spirits. I wonder if one's spirits age along with one's body? I'm thinking too much.

I posted a song by multi-talented artist Theresa Andersson sometime before but this kind of talent always merits a second look-see. Happy Monday and enjoy.

December Sky #4

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