Arrive in rural Seguin, Texas, a little after 3pm and pull into the driveway. I will be staying for five or so days in the coach house – or “smokehouse,” rather – of very good friends of the family in Ft Wayne, the hometown, where many friends and most of my family still reside.
The property in Seguin belongs to Kim and Sandra Cress and has been in their family since, I believe, the late 1800’s. Kim and Sandra live in Ft Wayne and spend their winters in Texas. Kim had done a great deal of work on the house and landscaping for my mom and dad, while he was living, and continues to do a lot for my mom today. But I must convey a fun story how I first met them both.
I was getting ready for my first five-week solo exhibition of over fifty artworks this past January in Ft Wayne; the exhibit opening would kick-off with me in a benefit performance, a staged reading, of the one-man theatrical piece BARRYMORE’S GHOST, playing the legendary actor, John Barrymore. The project was whimsically titled, “The Prodigal Son Returns.” The benefit was part of the season of the local community theater in Ft Wayne, First Presbyterian Theater, proceeds benefiting their programming; the theater’s lobby is a wonderful fine art gallery space, and it had taken me almost a year of planning with the staff at 1st Pres to bring off this truly unique event.
I had come home to do some painting ‘direct from nature’ one weekend in December in order to generate more inventory and execute some Ft Wayne scenes for inclusion. The local newspaper found me painting in one of the locations and next morning there was a prominent photo in the Arts section. I was painting again that day and several people stopped and asked, you the guy from Chicago? Saw you in the paper this morning, etc.
Late afternoon, I was downtown doing a painting of the charming and vintage Cindy’s Diner and a car pulls up: “saw you in the paper this morning.” We chat briefly through his car window while they wait for a green light, and he says, “You know what, we’ll pull around and park, come talk with you.”
Conversation leads to the fact that I am originally from Ft Wayne, doing the exhibit in January, and they ask, “Any chance you know or are related to Jack and Lois of the same last name?” and I reply that, indeed, I am their youngest of five.
He begins pumping my hand. “I’m Kim! I’m Kim! I’ve always loved your mother and dad! I’ve done a bunch of work for them!” I am stupefied, caught up in the excitement of the serendipity.
“Oh my gosh, you’re Kim! They have always talked about you, adored you! You built the waterfall garden for my dad bunch of years ago, and then planted the lavender tree in the backyard in 2004 after he died. You’re Kim!”
It was very wild and very special how it happened. Couldn’t wait to tell my mom, we talked about it for ninety minutes. Phone rings. I say, simply, “That’s going to be Kim!” It was. He says, “Man, that was just wild to meet you like that, we’ve been talking about it at dinner for the last ninety minutes. Say, how much for the Cindy’s Diner painting? Your folks have always had a special place in my heart, and we want to own it having met you the way we did.” And they own it.
When I began formulating a plan for the trip, an invitation materialized to stay in their smokehouse behind the main house in Texas. Well, turns out Kim had knee surgery weeks back and was unable to travel from Ft Wayne to Texas, and that I would still be welcomed to stay. A very generous offer and I was inclined to accept it.
The “smokehouse” was just that back in the day, where the meats were smoked for consumption. It had been fixed up as live-in and was charming as heck, very comfortable; one section of ceiling, say, eight by eight, the original wood from the smoking days. It was rural country, at least fifteen minutes from Seguin proper and actually nearer to New Braunfels; San Antonio is an hour south and west.
It was in New Braunfels that I would do any grocery shopping, library business for the blog, and discover all the “toobers.” Very much a river and water culture, people would rent “toobs” and float lazily down the river, hundreds of people at a time. What a fantastic way to take off the edge of the heat!
I very quickly pull the car up near the door and empty contents into the smokehouse, very organizedly. My fear is that anything left in the car this week might just bake so it all comes inside. To the library and a look-about in town; grocery and back for a big dinner. Wednesday will be seeking out painting locations and painting, painting. This will be a really perfect way to get caught up doing a whole lot of painting.
Oh, and look at the photo below, saw this and snapped a photo through the windshield as I entered Texas; in fact, saw another one similar ten miles down the road - makes sense....
Funny, I used to paint almost nudes exclusively, now I am doing plein air landscapes for awhile. Guess in Texas I shall do a bit of a combination of both.