Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Terrific Texas Art

(*A rather long post, but there's a treat if you read all the way through to the end!)

A couple of years ago, Kman and I were wandering around First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Texas. A huge outdoor-indoor market spanning across acres and acres, Canton offers something for everyone. We stopped by one booth that caught our eye - a gentleman selling large glossy posters - each a montage of iconic Texas images. Some featured the state's gorgeous wildflowers, another was themed with the forever recognizable Texas Lone Star, and a third was of the word "Texas" in dozens of different forms, from old weathered signboards to bronze plaques.

Here's one of our posters in a handmade Kman frame (remember, click to enlarge):

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Rick Vanderpool is the artist behind the camera, but that's only part of his professional background. Holding a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Georgia, Rick has been a publisher for the local newspaper in Commerce, Texas: The Commerce Journal. With a list as long as my arm, Rick's freelance photography and writing have been featured in Southern Living, Atlantic Constitution, Brown's Guide to Georgia, and Nikon World Magazine to list just a few. Did I mention he has a screenplay under his belt as well: All the Kings' Horses (Tarmac Films; Georgetown, Texas)

If all that weren't impressive enough, he also has a book about his photographic travels across this big state (20,000 miles and counting) complete with 400 black & white photos and humorous commentary: Looking for Texas: Essays from the Coffee Ring Journal. Easily found via Amazon.

Though he is a native of Georgia, Rick's love of Texas shines through in his compositions. He's earned his Lone Star Badge as far as I'm concerned. In his own words:

To paraphrase a quip attributed to James Barnes, “You can always tell a Texan, but you can’t tell him much,” I never imagined being able to tell Texans anything new and different about their state; its history, myths or geography.

But then, I’d seen the many books on Texas – shelf after shelf in libraries and bookstores – and came to believe that Texans certainly do enjoy the telling and do not mind in the least the retelling of almost anything about their state.

So it was that I awoke one morning convinced I just might be able to show Texans something new and different. Several friends and clients encouraged the idea, as did information from the crunchers of travel and tourism numbers at the Texas Department of Economic Development; information supporting the fact that Texans and non-Texans alike feel that the Lone Star State is worth at least a second look.

In 1994, I began a series of trips that would total over 20,500 miles and 54 days on the road – several roads, actually – to visit all 254 county seats in the state. And while I photographed anything else that caught my interest – from road kill and wildflowers, to grand views and tumbleweeds (all captured on roughly 400 rolls of film) – I was mostly looking for Texas; simply the word, as part of an old sign on the side of a barn, on a once bustling store’s front, now closed and crumbling, or on a brand new sign welcoming visitors to a revitalized Main Street. Tiny or huge. Fashioned from neon and glass, metal, wood, stone or plastic. On t-shirts and banners, jackets or caps, leather belts, boots and saddles. On buckles, badges, patches, tattoos or you-name-it. Anywhere. Any material. And with character – as in worn, weathered, carved, etched, painted, stitched, tooled, scrawled, scratched or sculpted.

The latest in his poster series is a tribute to a delicacy I can only hope you get an opportunity to sample: Texas wine.

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Yep, that's what I said, TEXAS wine. (Okay, cut out the wisecracks about applejack.) You can read all about his inspiration for the wine poster at What's So Grape About Texas. Spending 90 days in Texas wine country, Rick not only captured the industry and it's Lone Star uniqueness, but he also composed some right pretty verse:

There was a young lass from Ben Hur,
Who at tastings, caused quite a stir;
Tired of scrubbing stained togs till she ache-ed,
She now sips her wine stark naked.
rdv 5/11/2009

Okay, that was more fun than flowery, but at his What's So Grape About Texas site, you can find more samples of his serious poetic side. A true Renaissance Man!

Now per my promise at the first of this post, if you love the wine montage as much as I do, Rick has offered Texas Trifles' readers a special 2-for-one sale on the Ninety Days In Texas Wine Country poster. Just order from the site, click the "Buy Now" button, and simply put "Cowtown Pattie Sent Me" in PayPal's Special Instructions space and Rick will know to "Super-size" your order, and will also personalize it with his signature; one to keep, one to give to a friend!


la peregrina said...

The stars at night,
Are big and bright,

(Clap, clap, clap, clap)
Deep in the heart of Texas

Can I have the stars one, too?

Kay Dennison said...

Interesting post; interesting artist.

K. said...

I really like the poster you chose. Last night, a Texas flag appeared briefly on a television program I was watching. I thought to myself, "It really is the best state flag." No other state's flag is so iconic.

debdidit2 said...

No doubt....the best state. As Executive Director of the Texas Plains Trail Region, I'm proud to announce that we have commissioned Mr. Rick Vanderpool to capture the places, faces, and spaces of our 52-County Region this year. He's a true asset. He's also the creative mastermind behind our 52 Week, 52 County Special Stamp Cancellation going on this year. Visit our website for more information. www.texasplainstrail.com