Okay, looks like I need to switch some gears. People have been clamoring, 'where are you, what are you doing?' I am afraid with regard to the blog, I got myself stuck in Texas some ten-plus days ago. So I will need to finish these next few days hopefully in real time and will go back and get my dailies in order at a later date. Simply, it has just been too difficult to keep chasing down WiFi at Starbuck's, various libraries, etc. And I am filling my days with experience rather than the process of writing about experience. You know?
Briefly, after leaving Seguin, Texas, I drove to the home of C.W. "Sonny" Bahs and his wife, Barbara, in Nacogdoches, TX. Always friend and mentor to me, Bahs was chair of the theater program at University of Wyoming where I did my undergrad. He retired five years ago as chair at Stephen F Austin University. They were extremely good and kind to me and Bahs gave a quick tour of their fair city before we lost daylight. Next morning, they bought a painting, proceeds of which put me on the road again.
Then I landed at the estate of my new bestest, bestest friends, Timothy & Jen. Forget'boutit, you will not find on this earth cooler and more generous people. Tim is a master painter; Jen is a voice artist/actor, does a good deal of voice-over work. We spent four incredible days together and I will need weeks to not only recover, ha, but to digest and assimilate the fun that we had. I promise to give them their due later by way of daily blog records. Um, yep and they bought paintings, and that is plural. Many hugs going their way, I miss them!
From their piece of paradise in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I headed for my final destination in Brown County, Ind, logging a total of .... wait for it.... wait for it.... 8,000 miles so far!
Ultimately I will stay for three days in Brown County State Park but not before landing in New Harmony, IN. Founded in late nineteenth century by Father George Rapp, the Harmonists were an ideologic utopian society with a combination of the Swabian work ethic ("work, work, work and save, save, save") and Benedictine rule ("work and pray!"). I camped in Harmonie State Park - wonderful - and got into town early for a look-about.
I was standing near the Granary, and a woman with water can in hand asked, May I help you? I suggested I might do a painting of the central building unless she might have other ideas. She says wait a moment and disappears, I think to deposit her water can. She returns and says, "get in" and I spy a lone golf cart (they are all over New Harmony). For the next ninety minutes I am enthralled with a golf cart tour of the town, she is dropping knowledge at every turn and seems pleased that I continue to jump out of the cart, often before it has stopped, to snap photos. I am armed with a mass of shots that could inform an entire series of paintings depicting this idyllic, pastoral, and inspiring community. I learn that my new friend, Nancy, is a volunteer gardener, is wife to a physician in town, is very proud of her community, and has lived here for more than 17 years. She grew up in the area.
Off to Brown County. The State Park is absolutely breath-taking. Then headed to the too-too-quaint-for-its-own-good Nashville, Indiana. I will live here one day; oh, yes I will, don't try to stop me :)
First thing in the morning, breakfast in Nashville (I will wait for Diann's arrival late on Wednesday evening to really explore the town on Thursday) and started painting downtown. Two hours, was just ready to sign it, lots of people coming up to say hello, and a fellow inquires price and says, I'll take it. Good, I can afford to take Diann to dinner.
The afternoon is spent touring the home and studio of T.C. Steele, Indiana's most prominent artist. He painted same time as van Gogh, to give some historical context, died in 1926, at the age of 78. Successful by the end of the nineteenth century, he was committed to the Indiana landscape, declaring to all that it rivals any other place in the world in its beauty. It is T.C. Steele that put me on this journey and it is thrilling for me to conclude the trip following in his footsteps.
Late in the day, I look for the town of Bean Blossom, five miles north, to find the red covered bridge there, built 1880, find it and decide that will be tomorrow's painting location. Now to celebrate the sale of a painting, I seek out the brewery. I will need more time to document my experience over those next four hours but it was touching and very emotional for me. Everything was coming together, full-circle, if you will.
My dad had taken us to camp and fish in Brown County. As a young lad, I had scampered up a boy scout observatory tower when I was ten - it now is fenced in and public access is prohibited. When I came around the bend and saw it in the state park and remembered my time here as a kid, well, there goes the hair on my arms. An electric memory for me.
My lovely new friend at the brewery, Stephanie, took great care of me and suggested that I stay to hear the acoustic duo on the restaurant's patio. "The Indiana Boys." Yep, there goes the hair again. Singing songs as though they had written them specifically for me suggests to me that I never left Indiana; it has remained somewhere deep inside of me. I bought the c.d. and said hello to them on my way out. The singer says to me, I know you, you been to other gigs, you live around here, you're very familiar. Nope, I live in Chicago, have never been here, just arrived last night but yes, familiar I am - 'cuz I, too, am an Indiana Boy.