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Abigail McLaurin

Life drawing every Wednesday. Open to everyone. Become a member of the studio — it’s worth it.


A View From The Top Greg Busceme, TASI Director

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE residents who participated in a wonderful tenants exhibition this September. Along with a great show, there was a generous turnout of guests to view the artists’ efforts. We saw a large group of people that were new to The Art Studio. I know this because new people are the only ones who come to the openings right at seven. Our regulars are not quite so punctual. To our new guests: I hope it wasn’t too hot or uncomfortable for you. If we didn’t get to meet you, we hope you will come back and see more amazing work throughout the year. As director of The Studio, I hope we are seeing some uptick in the economy. We are experiencing a renewed interest in the arts and in The Art Studio, as we have seen new interest in classes in drawing, painting and ceramics. We have also had an influx of tenant artists; some are new to the area, some are re-establishing their artistic direction and getting down to work. I am so happy we are still here to serve this creative community. I wish we could do more. 2013 will mark our 30th year of service to the community, and in celebration of this auspicious occasion we are planning a facelift for our sagging old studio. Coincidentally, the national clay con-

ISSUE Vol. 19, No. 2 Publisher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Art Studio, Inc. Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Andy Coughlan Copy Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tracy Danna Contributing Writers. . . . . . . . . . . . Elena Ivanova, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lluvia Peveto, D.J. Kava Contributing Photographers . . . . . . Michelle Cate The Art Studio, Inc. Board of Directors President Ex-Officio . . . . . . . . . . . . Greg Busceme Vice-President. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Angela Busceme Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John Roberts Treasurer/Secretary . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beth Gallaspy Members at large: . . . . . . . . . . . . Sheila Busceme, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Elizabeth French, . . . . . . . . . . Andy Ledesma, Stephan Malick, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Heather Butler

The Art Studio, Inc. 720 Franklin Beaumont, TX 77701 409-838-5393 The ISSUE is a monthly publication of The Art Studio, Inc. Its mission is to publicize The Art Studio and its tenants, and to promote the growth of the arts in Southeast Texas. ISSUE is also charged with informing TASI members of projects, progress, achievements and setbacks in TASI’s well-being. Further, ISSUE strives to promote and distribute the writings of local authors in its “Thoughtcrime” feature. ISSUE is provided free of charge to members of TASI and is also available, free of charge, at more than 30 locations in Southeast Texas. Regular features include local artists of note and reputation who are not currently exhibiting at TASI; artists currently or soon to be exhibiting at TASI; Instructional articles for artists; news stories regarding the state of TASI’s organization; and arts news features dealing with general philosophical issues of interest to artists.

Contents Ekphrastic Ramblings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 4 Travels with Charley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 6 Andy Coughlan’s “Caravanserai. . . . . . . . . . Page 8 “Brilliant Minds” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 11 “Doubt” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 11 BAL Roundup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 11 Around & About. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 12 Thoughtcrime. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 13

See VIEW on page 15



“Caravanserai: Recent paintings by Andy Coughlan” Opening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . October 6

Sean Wilcox Opening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . November 3

BECOME A MEMBER OF THE ART STUDIO Membership in The Art Studio, Inc., provides invitations to all exhibitions and one year of ISSUE, the monthly arts magazine of The Art Studio. It also gives free eligibility for members to enter the annual membership art exhibition (TASIMJAE) and participate in various exhibitions throughout the year.

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Cover photo by Michelle Cate

ference (NCECA) will be hosted by Houston in March and we hope to have a mini Gumbo Clay Festette with our clay friends coming by to see us. We hope to have our kilns in order by then as well as complete some work left by Jim Leedy, Vern Funk and Victor Spinski and their students. An exhibition at The Studio in March will specifically showcase ceramics in Southeast Texas and, hopefully, some entries from guest artists on a national level. For our guests, I want the studio to look like it not only survived but thrived. There are far fewer organizations like TASI after the economic downturn of the country. Our weather problems during the same period gave us a double whammy that we endured. We are lucky to be here. It is important to note that no financial support, no federal loan program or any compensation was offered to us despite our many requests for assistance. As a result we are not able to offer free classes and workshops or scholarship programs. We hope this is a temporary situation. The Kroger challenge has begun and we are sending you a barcode to scan along with your Kroger card so that a percentage of your purchases will come to


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Starry, starry night Paint your palette blue and gray Look out on a summer’s day With eyes that know the darkness in my soul. — Don McLean, “Vincent” MOST OF US PROBABLY have to look up the word “ekphrasis” in the dictionary. However, like Monsieur Jourdain from Molière’s immortal comedy “The Middle Class Gentleman,” who has been speaking prose all his life without realizing it, we obliviously engage in an ekphrastic experience when we read a poetic description of an art object or when we listen to Don McLean’s “Vincent” and imagine the iconic masterpiece of the troubled genius. “Ekphrasis” literally means “description,” from the Greek verb ex (out) + phrazein (to point out, explain). In ancient Greece this word was used in relation to a more elaborate description of an object than a mere listing of its properties. It was a rhetorical device in which one art medium “described” another medium, and in this process took on a life of its own. Homer’s famous description of Achilles’ shield in “Iliad” is one of the earliest examples of ekphrastic poetry and, probably, one of the longest, running for 130 lines (Book 18, lines 478–608). This tradition continued through the ages into our times and manifested itself in all arts. One of the classical examples of ekphrastic music is Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures in an Exhibition”, written about the paintings of artist Victor Gartman. Rodion Shchedrin’s ballet, “Carmen Suite,” is an ekphrastic dance rendition of the famous opera by Georges Bizet, who, in his turn, “described” in music Prosper Mérimée’s dramatic story of love and betrayal. But what yields itself better to be a descriptive tool than language? It is not surprising that ekphrasis is particularly popular in literature. Recently, John Mullin of The Guardian listed ten of the best examples of ekphrasis in poetry and prose. The list includes such poetic gems as “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats, “On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and “In the Musée des Beaux Arts” by W.H. Auden, written in reference to Pieter Brueghel’s painting “Landscape With the Fall of Icarus,” as well as such famous examples of art descriptions in prose as “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde and “The Idiot” by Dostoyevsky1. Ekphrastic writing continues to be popular today. Take, for example, a recent publication of “The Poetry of Solitude: A Tribute to Edward Hopper,” by Gail Levine. It features an impressive array of works written by famous contemporary Story by Elena Ivanova

African, Mangbetu, Anthropomorphic Harp, early 20th century, wood, hide, sinew, and string, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of Frank Nelson Carroll, Jr., in memory of his parents, Frank Nelson and Eleanor West Carroll.

poets inspired by well-known paintings by Edward Hopper, like “Nighthawks” and “House by the Railroad.” Some of the biggest champions of ekphrastic poetry are art museums, which regard it as a way of raising awareness of their collections. Many museums regularly host poetry contests and other literary programs.

In 2011-12, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and Public Poetry co-sponsored a poetry competition titled “The ARTlines.” Texas poets were invited to write about one of nine works of art selected by curators from the museum’s major collection areas. Submissions were reviewed by a distinguished

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jury. The competition culminated in a public award ceremony at the MFAH during which the winners read their poems. The poems by the winners, honorable mentions, jurors, and invited poets are still available through the museum’s cell-phone tour program and in a booklet; both also may be downloaded from the MFAH Web site.2 One of my favorites in this poetry collection is the poem written by Lisa L. Moore in reference to “Anthropomorphic Harp,” an exquisitely carved musical instrument in the Arts of Africa collection. The harp is striking in its appearance. Its slender neck is decorated with a carved human head with elongated skull, high coiffure, large almondshaped eyes and pursed lips. These features represent the aesthetic ideal of the Mangbetu people, who for centuries have been living in the northeastern area of what is known today as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Apparently, this unusually shaped head was far from being poetic license. It was fashionable among the ruling class Mangbetu to bind infants’ skulls, which produced an ovoid head as well as uplifted eyebrows and stretched eyelids. The inspiration for these musical instruments in Mangbetu culture could be traced to ancient Egypt. However, it was during the end of the 19th, early 20th century that production of Mangbetu harps drastically increased due becoming hot collector’s items among visiting Europeans. Ironically, in the process of creating highly decora-

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tive harps, their functionality as musical instruments was lost — they became completely unplayable. In Lisa Moore’s poem, the harp is telling its story as if it were a human being remembering the past: Wrapped in the spalted trunk of a sapele, I heard the elephant splash and rumble in the rainforest bai. This, and the bush cricket, was my first music. Light poured through the leafy canopy, every beam sugaring carbon strings into mahogany heartwood. This was before the sawmills, the tree hewn by hand. Forged copper scraped me a hollow body, elegant neck, elongated head achieved by binding the infant skull. The sharpest blade cut me a mouth. The green mantis folded its arms and prayed. I was made to be African elsewhere, never learned Mangbetu language, its voiced and unvoiced trill. I speak only with a mouth carved shut. 3 Lisa Moore sets the scene by evoking sights and sounds of the rainforest — the elephant’s splash in the bai (marshy clearings in the forest, literally, “where the animals eat” in Ba’aka pygmy language), the cricket chirping, the sunlight pouring down through the luscious canopy. This is where the life of the future harp begins. Like a

fetus in the womb, it lies “wrapped in the spalted trunk of a sapele” (a scented mahogany or West African cedar), with her “mahogany heartwood” already beating to the music of the forest. The anthropomorphic association continues as the harp emerges out of the wood and is given “a hollow body, elegant neck, elongated head achieved by binding,” like an upper-class Mangbetu baby. With its long neck and small head, the harp also resembles the praying mantis, as a reference to its indelible link with nature. The closing lines of the poem may be interpreted as an acknowledgement of the harp’s failure to fulfill its purpose. It is a musical instrument, yet it speaks “only with a mouth carved shut.” At the same time, one may read this line as a transcendence of the harp’s inability to produce sound. It still evokes the music of the forest with its shape and design. Elena Ivanova is chief educator at the Stark Museum of Art in Orange.

1 ten-best-ekphrasis-john-mullan 2 3 © 2012, Lisa L. Moore, a Winner in The ARTlines Competition co-sponsored by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Public Poetry.

On Schiele’s “Wally with Red Shirt” Oh Wally, lying there so innocent, yet with those eyes so knowing. Her red shirt mirrors her red hair. She knows he is lost in the lines as he fumbles to find her. She has seen herself before through his eyes, naked, visions of want and lust. Today she is clothed but still the longing remains. She waits, for an eternity, Smoldering, as he works the lines around the legs which are raised provocatively. The pink stockings, the ruffled, what is that? A skirt? A petticoat? The arm against her chest, the hand against her throat. Does she know what he is thinking? She is more than just a bowl of fruit, more than an exercise in technique.

“Wally mit roter Bluse” (Wally with Red Shirt) by Egon Sciele, 1913

EKPHRASIS literally means “description,” from the Greek verb ex (out) + phrazein

(to point out, explain). In ancient Greece this word was used in relation to a more elaborate description of an object than a mere listing of its properties. It was a rhetorical device in which one art medium “described” another medium, and in this process took on a life of its own.

She acts coy but it is just an act. She knows he belongs to her. She knows she is beyond mortal. She is the muse, the inspiration, to whom he must return again and again and again, until her perfection is realized. Andy Coughlan


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Editor’s note: The following is a free-flowing reminiscence of the author’s adventures with artist Charles Stagg.

JOHN STEINBECK WROTE ABOUT his 1961 tour of the US with his dog named Charley, and Charles Stagg was also called Charlie. After a couple of years, I once asked him, “Everyone calls you Charlie, is that your preferred form of address?” He replied, “I like being called Charles.” For the next decades I always announced my approach to his woodland studio with, “Ahoy Charles.” At his memorial service all of his relatives called him Charlie and so it gets sprinkled in this narrative. I first met Charles Mitchell Stagg in 1983, shortly after The Art Studio, Inc. opened at Neches and Milam in Beaumont. I didn’t like him, only seeing a freeloader drunk. After repeated invitations and others’ encouragement I finally visited his studio in Vidor, Texas. My eyes revealed his habitat vision better than any of his previous explanations and we slowly became friends. In ’86 I spent an evening with Charles setting his Dishman show and heard years later how offensive the leftover wine and beer bottles were. Most of the artwork was six sided but he had already recognized that three sticks saved half the wood and visually filled space nearly as well. Six sides were used only on small pieces thereafter. My 172 stick hex piece was from that show. Back then he was pricing at $2 a stick. November that year, helped repackage the Dishman pieces into his group show with Greg Busceme to introduce the newly restored Kyle Building in downtown Beaumont. After that I saw his exhibit inventory as a community asset. That prompted my decade volunteer career as the TASI curator of the Art@The Airport initially with the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. Charles was the featured artist. At this time he had a domed house with the rounded mud wood stove and the 35feet triangle tower. It had either five or six low floors with chainsaw hewn steps between and at the top, which was about eight feet to a side, and had aluminum flashing to intensify the sunlight on his pot crop. Familiar with aviation I chastised his stupidity on how easy it was see from the air. After harvest he didn’t do it again. Charles told his brother-in-law it was his experiments in solar energy. This tower later rotted and fell. I had minor influence on its replacement

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that survived the fire. ……………………… It is hard to recall when I was talked into helping with the tower replacement dome. It was after the time I gave him the government surplus Neches River red curved glass channel mile markers. When I arrived he had a large row of sticks in a circle covered head high in concrete with a ladder propped up on a half inch cotton cord wrapped around them. His instructions were to wrap more rope around higher up and pull the cone shape tighter. “Stand on the rope.” After trying various approaches and we finally succeeding in wrapping and tightening the sticks only then realized I was standing on just that damned cord 12-feet off of the concrete and a long way from the ladder. I immediately returned to terra firma. This was before he put the inside braces. His inclusion of the river markers at the top continues to provide a dramatic light show whenever the sun shines. ……………………… In 1989 Charles asked me to help in the installation of “Oblique Mystique” show in the atrium of the Art Museum of Southeast Texas. This consisted of three 25 to 30-foot triangular towers made of pine boles, the central stem from his property in Vidor. He always like to use the “Bole” term, I think to see if you were really paying attention since it’s not normal vocabulary. It was the best wood and the pine bark beetle was killing thousands of local trees so it made sense to harvest them before death. We had long wires, piles of different size sticks and scaffolding on the floor. Charles knew theater. The café always seemed to be full, with customers tromping over the moving wires sliding over the terrazzo to enter. We spent most of the week building, short days but always during the lunch hour, finishing professionally on time. During the installation I recall one joke I played on the desk woman Patsy Brittian. She would be working away with her head down and I’d yell, “Look Out” and drop a clattering stick on the floor near her desk. A couple of days later got away with another “OHHH SHITTT” and the joke was over. Charles gave me a small mounted six-sided sculpture with a painted deer hide shrunk over it. (Memo to heirs: Remember that it was my week’s pay when you put it on the $2 garage sale table.) In 1993 we updated the Jefferson County Airport display, hanging from the ceiling a large 18-feet branching stick with 2.5-feet diameter trumpet shaped colorful attachments. These were made of 8-10 stiff wires, string and toilet paper wrapped and painted. It had some sort of galactic name with each funnel/flower representing a Black Hole in the universe. It hung until the county changed airport managers and ending 12 years of Art@The Airport. I always tried to keep one of Charles’ pieces on display. These included a couple 16-feet Rholplex impregnated canvas collages done a decade before in grad school. One day, while installing one that had a series of newspaper obit type photos, it was laying on the floor and a passenger walked up to ask Charles why he had a right to use his relative’s photo. He said, “I looked down and said Mr. So and So, he was a friend of my father.” The nameless relative even to Charles left satisfied. Later he confided that was the only photo that he could identify by name. I’m certain that those large paintings were consumed in the ’06 fire. But long before that we wandered off on other adventures. In 1994 I helped Charles finish a 20-feet-tall large bottle shape structure on the campus of North Harris

County Junior College. He already built it and we put the final masonry cement coating on it. The remarkable thing about this trip was the Trinity River was in flood and a runaway barge damaged an I-10 freeway bridge closing it, severely disrupting traffic. I was thinking things can’t get much worse, then a pipeline broke and the river caught on fire. 1995 TREE OF LIFE, BALTIMORE I had a bullet proof, dependable ’81 Ford F-150 and took up Charles’ invitation to go to Baltimore to build a three-story sculpture in a new museum. They would pay gas, so we took off on our grand tour mooching nights with my weather and car friends and, after installation, with his art friends in Pennsylvania. Starting off we had spare time in Little Rock and ironically attended an “Outsider” art exhibit of mental patients. He noted, “I’m considered an Outsider.” After stops in Indianapolis and Capon Bridge, W. Va., we rolled toward Baltimore. It was autumn, the leaves were changing to red and orange and country was dwindling from mountains to hilly. It was a two-lane road coming around a curve, the bluff in front was covered with color and the sign flashed Potomac River, but it was just sparkly water running over rocks only a couple of hundred feet wide and we soon zoomed to the left. The 14-year-old truck handled pretty well but a bit loose; Charles never complained while we hustled through the Appalachians. After installation (we were later mentioned on NPR as coming up only for a night at Hooters), Charles took me to visit his friends in the Philadelphia area. It was a rush to see the Interstate signs and the New York City skyline on the right with Philly straight ahead. Our base was the North 12th Street home of his old grad school professor Harry Anderson and companion Smokie Kettner. We stayed on the third floor but made him sleep in another room because he snored. We

made a trip to Bucks County to the Anderson antique farmstead and visited several artists. We visited nearby Jack (ceramist) and Rena (weaver) Thompson’s house perched on the edge of scary county road. Then a cold night with glass blower Jim Harmon and designer Winnie Helton in their rose quartz stone house. Back in Philly we visited the painter Tom Steigerwald and a forgotten visiting glass blower. Then one night Charles took me to a rough part of town to a singular building on the whole side of the block. The multi-story apartment had only one remaining heavily-armed resident on the third floor. We picked up one of his grad school “deposit boxes.” Only recently I would find there were several. Smokie said she had one and Harry two but they didn’t know about this fourth one. They were all the same size and screwed together and the contents were a mystery to the holders. [AMSET is suspected to have this fourth box’s contents.] We rolled home stopping at only one hotel in Virginia and then with the widow of one of my weather friends in Montgomery. The ironic part of this trip occurred when I got home. All during the trip I toted the unneeded heavy toolbox into secure spots. Arriving at home I was tired and decided to leave it in the truck box only to have it stolen in broad daylight in the Albertsons’ parking lot while buying groceries. The Baltimore piece was disassembled and shipped back to him and later purchased for about $15K. Charles would not rebuild it again (probably because his shoulder was bothering him), but the money kept him going for several years. In ’98 he had a gig to display at the Houston Art League Courtyard. We stayed at his nudist friends who were not at home (shucks!) and Charles broke their window A/C in a remote room full of art. He left a note,

See TRAVELS on page 10

Charles Stagg and D.J. Kava, above. Stagg, left, surveys his three-story-tall installation in Baltimore.

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Caravanserai: A composite Turkish term derived from caravan (a group of travelers) and serai (palace). Generally it refers to a large inn capable of hosting a large number of travelers, their animals and their goods.

VISIT THE CARAVANSERAI TASI TENANT AIMS TO CREATE TOTAL ARTS EXPERIENCE AT EXHIBITION OPENING ANDY COUGHLAN’S FINGERS GLIDE and dip across layers of wet paint, gently tracing a path along the nubbled surface of canvas. Photos by Although the August Michelle afternoon heat beads unforCate givingly on Coughlan and the tenants of the second floor of the Art Studio, Inc., the Brighton, England,

Story by Lluvia Peveto

native continues undeterred. He’s on deadline. On Oct. 6, Coughlan will unveil the culmination of a year’s work at the art studio during his opening reception, “Caravanserai: A Solo Exhibition.” The free event, which will take place from 7 to 10 p.m., will feature live music, dancers and poets, as well as an appearance by the Bánh Mon Renegade Street Food truck, owned by Monica and John Cobb.

Free refreshments will be provided by The Art Studio, Inc. Attendees are encouraged to immerse themselves in the atmosphere by donning Eastern garb reminiscent of travelers who once frequented the binns (caravanserai) during treks on the Silk Road across Eurasia. Afterward, revelers can keep the night alive with a celebratory afterparty at Tequila Rok. Designed to attract those who don’t frequent

Andy Coughlan works in his space at The Art Studio, as he prepares for “Caravanserai,” an exhibition of recent work, which opens with an arts event Oct. 6.

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gallery openings, the show will center on one thing alone — down to the first step across the threshold. “The way you enter the exhibition will force you to look at the studio space differently because of how everything will be arranged. That way the work, the environment and the participants will be interacting with each other, creating the show — the art — together. It’s an attempt to redefine one’s initial perception of the world around them, in the immediate sense,” Coughlan said. The collection will feature about 30 pieces including abstract and semi-abstracted paintings. But most of all, he will focus on “his women.” Coughlan is well-known in Southeast Texas art circles for highly-stylized portraits of robust — almost Rubenesque — women in classical settings: “Leda and the Swan” of Greek mythology, “The Muses,” and “The Four Seasons,” to name a few. A penchant for highly-controlled brushstrokes and attention to detail has given way to the “celebration of aggressive sensuality in the abstract form,” Coughlan said. His latest work features lines that twist calligraphically across muted backgrounds. Coughlan has designed his paintings to unveil themselves to viewers the longer they look at them. Intersecting lines evolve into feminine forms. Using the process of deconstruction or breaking down the figure — often sketched from vintage photographs or live models — he then reconstructs it in layers, with dominant lines and abstract shapes to redefine its original form. To capture the dynamic of spontaneity, Coughlan preserves some of the raw motion employed in the initial sketches, which prevents overworking the image. The Orange resident was inspired to devel-

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op this technique when he was struck by the layout of a Richard Serra showing at The Menil Collection in Houston. Serra’s show challenged viewers to “redefine their space,” and the phrase struck a chord with Coughlan. He began to immerse himself in the works of artists that display “aggressive spontaneity,” such as Maria Smits and Willem de Kooning. The evolution of their work challenged him to focus on the process, rather than the end result. “Each painting develops its own personality, like a woman. When I begin on a new piece, it’s an exploration. Like the first time you fall in love: you’re infatuated. You pursue them; you

See CARAVANSERAI on page 14

Artist gallery talk slated for Oct. 18 Artist Andy Coughlan will host a gallery talk, 7 to 8 p.m., Oct. 18, in conjunction with the exhibition “Caravanserai.” “This is something new we are doing at The Studio,” Coughlan said. “People have expressed interest in talking about the exhibitions, but everyone is having too much fun at the openings to stop and do a talk. This is something we want to do for all solo shows.” The event is free and refreshments will be available.

10 • ISSUE October 2012

TRAVELS from page 7 like a note on the windshield when you bump a car in a parking lot. We had some scaffolding on site with plenty of sticks to build something tall. When we got above the single story rooflines everything became unstable. We talked a lot about guy wires to nearby roofs. We were building in a developing tropical depression and quit as the winds increased. The weather was crappy for days. I didn’t return to help Charles and he set up several smaller things. I consigned a few of my copper wire ladders to their gift shop and it is one of the few consignments that didn’t lose, break or steal something. RITA REPAIR ’05 In September 2005, Hurricane Rita passed near his studio, damaging the corrugated roof severely. A volunteer Houston group came providing metal and helped replace the tin nearly to top where the supporting structure was missing. John Fulbright recalls standing on top of a bucket that was sitting on a board top of two other buckets on another board. His description was “amazingly scary.” Charles and I cut and pasted the missing wood logs and tin up near the circular hole in the center. John was right — it was scary and dangerous. ’06 FIRE It was about three days after the August fire before I visited. John Fulbright and his daughter also arrived. It was before the Vidor Fire Marshal declared “Unknown Cause.” My mother’s early Stanley miter box on loan melted and disappeared, but I had two ‘80s red clay faces hanging on his front wall for years. “Hey, can we find the pieces? I can glue them back together as memorial or something.” They hung about 8-feet up the wall and stirring the ashes found both, dirty but remarkably intact. They appeared in my ’09 30-year ret-

The beehive dome, above, on Charles Stagg’s Vidor property. Stagg’s three-story-tall installation in Baltimore, right.

Volume 19, No. 2 rospective as “Refired Clay”. In the last years I spent less time with Charles, dropping cans occasionally or he would stop by and pick them up. Involved with Margo Holst at the Bolivar Peninsula Cultural Foundation gallery, we booked him for a June 2008 show of his plywood paintings that were priced in our successful $2-300 range. After booking, he sold one for $1,200 and re-priced everything to that level. We stayed at Margo’s beach house the night before the show when a fire broke out two doors down. Awakened by a dog Margo yelled, “Everyone come here quick.” Then later in retelling she complained about being surrounded by naked men. Quickly attired,

we were watering her downwind roof before the local volunteer fire department arrived and knocked down the blaze. There were no $1,200 sales. I knew Charles for 29 years. Thankfully Margo and I were able to visit him only a few hours before he died. He taught me how to fill space. He was a tax-dodging, cash-only monumental artist, a subliminal teacher, a piss-poor businessman and a great friend. The key turned off on my Travels with Charlie on February 20, 2012 and I tear in typing this final farewell. Thanks Charles, it was a helluva ride.

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Art exhibit to prove people with mental illness can create beauty

Sherri Pennington works on her art at the Nick Nides Self Help Haven in this 2010 file photo. Pennington will be represented in the “Beautiful Minds” exhibition, Oct. 28.

When Byron Hughes became the new Program Coordinator for the Nick Nides Self-Help Haven, “Art Instructor” was probably not something that he thought would be one of his job duties. It turned out to be a large part of what he does each week. The Nick Nides Self Help Haven (a.k.a. The Beaumont Hope Center) is a non-profit gathering place and support center for people with mental health diagnoses. The organization is located on the South Campus of the Spindletop Center in Beaumont and is run by Spindletop clients. Now, for the third year in a row, the members of the Haven will put their creativity on display in an art exhibition called “A Beautiful Mind.” The exhibit and silent auction with hors d’oeuvres and wine, scheduled for 2-4 p.m., Oct 28 at The Art Studio, is free and open to the public. Recreational activities at the Haven did not include artwork until 2010, when members of Woodcrest United Methodist Church in Lumberton decided to start informal art classes for those Haven members who wanted them. The classes were a huge success, and when the original teacher, retired educator Betty Iles, had to miss several classes, the members took matters into their own hands. “Next thing we knew, there were people painting several days a week, blowing through as many art supplies as people could buy,” said Janna Fulbright, public relations for Spindletop. “From there, it just seemed logical to do an art exhibition.” Now, Hughes and other Haven members oversee art classes and are working very, very hard to put on a

professional exhibit. “The members who do art really seem to love it,” said Hughes. The 2011 exhibition was a success, and members used part of the funds they raised to take field trips and to purchase more art supplies. “A Beautiful Mind 2012” will feature approximately 200 pieces, including acrylics on canvas and works on paper. Each will showcase the free expression of the Haven members. “When I first went to look at their works, I was so naïve,” said Fulbright. “I thought, ‘Mental illness … these works are going to be so dark.’ Boy, was I wrong! Flowers, houses, non-objective pieces, bright colors … these are pieces that speak to hope more than anything, and I really enjoy the work.” In addition to the support of the art patrons who purchased works in years past, “A Beautiful Mind 2012” got a much-needed boost in the form of a grant from Entergy Texas. “I’m sure the Haven members are thrilled that Entergy thought that their exhibit was a worthwhile cause,” said Fulbright. “Entergy’s support lends a sense of legitimacy and community support to the members’ hard work. The Haven members have worked so diligently — some even came back from homelessness to arrive at a place where they can put their innermost thoughts on display for the public to see. That’s a brave thing for these artists to do, and it’s wonderful that Entergy supports them in their efforts." TASI is located at 720 Franklin in Beaumont. For more information, call Spindletop at 409-651-9280.

Photo courtesy of Richard Tallent

BEAUMONT ART LEAGUE A crowd of patrons sort through items at the Beaumont Art League during its RUMMAGE SALE & FUNKY N’ FAB FURNISHINGS SALE, Sept. 14. The organization raised more than $5,800, board president Richard Tallent said. “We had a great turnout, and we really appreciate everyone from the community who donated items, volunteered, shared the details on Facebook, and of course who came out to buy. The money raised will help us provide a number of exciting art exhibitions and educational programs over the coming year." Photo courtesy of Richard Tallent _________________ The BEAUMONT ART LEAGUE’S ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP SHOW will be on display


Oct. 10-31. There will be a reception Oct. 13, 7-9 p.m Entries will be accepted Sept. 29. The show is open only to BAL members, but any artist is encouraged to become a new member or renew a membership at the time of entry. “This is one of BAL’s most popular shows so it is the perfect time to join and become a part of one of the oldest arts organizations in the community,” BAL gallery director Sarah Hamilton, said. The show will be on display Oct. 10-31. There will be a reception Oct. 13, 7-9 p.m. For a prospectus or more onformation, visit or beaumontartleague. The Beaumont Art League is located at 2675 Gulf Street in Beaumont.

12 • ISSUE October 2012

Volume 19, No. 2

Around & About If you come across any interesting exhibitions, museums or other places on your travels, share them with us. Call 409-838-5393, or contact us through our web site at Be sure to include the location and dates of the subject, as well as any costs.

The ART MUSEUM OF SOUTHEAST TEXAS presents ESPOUSED, a vibrant group exhibition on view through Jan. 6, featuring 36 contemporary Texas artists who are partners either in marriage, as significant others or as a collaborative team. “Espoused” comprises more than 40 works in a variety of media and highlights these diverse pairs of artists working together in various ways through inspiration, creativity, encouragement, studio space and techniques. These couples further examine how their works are or are not influenced by one another. The artists whose work will be featured include: Shannon and William Cannings, Jerolyn BahmColombik and Roger Colombik, Elizabeth Akamatsu and Piero Fenci, Suzanne Bloom and Ed Hill (MANUAL), Linda Ridgway and Harry Geffert, Letitia and Sedrick Huckaby, Janet Chaffee and Benito Huerta,

Randy Twaddle, DISTRIBUTION LINE DRAWING #3, 2011, ink and coffee on paper, 16.125 x 12.125 inches, loan courtesy of Moody Gallery, Houston, Texas

Carter Ernst and Paul Kittelson, Corinne and Charles Jones, Cathy Cunningham-Little and Ken Little, Liza and Lee Littlefield, Joan Batson and Bert L. Long Jr., Beverly Penn and Marc McDaniel, Susan Budge and Jesús Moroles, Sharon Engelstein and Aaron Parazette, Charmaine Locke and James Surls, Ann Stautberg and Frank X. Tolbert 2, and Marianne Green and Randy Twaddle. Many of these artists have gained national and international attention and are represented by major galleries and in museum collections across the country. AMSET also has exhibited individually or owns work by several of the featured artists. “We are pleased to present ‘Espoused’ to the Southeast Texas community,” Caitlin Williams, AMSET curator of exhibitions and collections, said. “This is an exciting exhibition teeming with a variety

of subjects, media, styles, and personalities.” “Espoused” is organized by AMSET and funded in part by the Southeast Texas Arts Council, Edith Fuller Chambers Charitable Foundation, the late Dorothy Anne Conn, City of Beaumont and the Texas Commission on the Arts. AMSET is located at 500 Main in downtown Beaumont. For more information, visit ______________ The MENIL COLLECTION hosts DEAR JOHN & DOMINIQUE : LETTERS AND DRAWINGS FROM THE MENIL ARCHIVES through Jan. 6. This exhibition commemorates the Menil’s 25th anniversary. It celebrates the founders of the Menil Collection, John and Dominique de Menil, through the words and images in the letters and drawings sent to them by their friends: artists, curators, museum directors, architects, family members and intellectuals. In gratitude, awe and delight the assembled exchanges penned in the collected correspondence from the Menil Archives provides a unique and intimate look at the pioneering ideas that helped form the museum long before the building opened in 1987. The exhibited letters will be displayed in the gallery turned into an archival reading room. Here, museum guests will be able to comfortably spend time with the letters, which will be augmented by a selection of photographs and ephemera also pulled from the archive. Together, the materials reveal the complexity and pleasure of the swirling art world the de Menil’s inhabited, as well as the profundity and conviction of their project, and the magnitude of their patronage of living artists. This is expressed in the simple eloquence of a letter from Robert Rauschenberg to Dominique de Menil from 1996 that will be included in the exhibition. It reads: “Dear Dominique, I personally, and the world specifically, will and do celebrate your devotions, dedication and accomplishments. I am grateful that your acceptance of my artwork — marking your unique contributions—can be a contract to our future services to continue our unveering care. Let’s get on with our joyous work. We are needed as never before — again. Thank you from the depths of my mind, body and heart. Robert Rauschenberg.” As a component of the exhibition, the Menil Collection will launch an interactive cell-phone tour of the Menil campus, compiled of rare audio recordings from the Menil archives, including the voices of John and Dominique de Menil. It will also feature the perspective of those who have impacted — and are continuing to impact — the formation of the museum and the neighborhood. “Dear John and Dominique: Letters and Drawings from the Menil Archives” is organized by Michelle White, curator, with Geraldine Aramanda, Menil Collection archivist. The Menil Collection is located at 1515 Sul Ross in Houston. For more, visit

Volume 19, No. 2

October 2012 ISSUE • 13


dead music cold shoulders jumping jack flash oh how they pretend how they watch as if the strength of love capsized towards man weed coke cash money bitch hoe measure twice, cut once, decoy rebels gang bang did you think my hair was real, only in the beginning

Submission Guidelines and Disclaimer ISSUE solicits and publishes the work of local authors. Poetry, short fiction, scholarly works and opinion pieces may be submitted for review. All works must be typed or submitted on a disk (using approved word processing software), or may be sent to TASI by e-mail. All works are subject for review by our editor, and may be rejected or edited on the basis of grammar, spelling or content. The opinions expressed in “Thoughtcrime” do not necessarily reflect the opinions of TASI, its Board of Directors, ISSUE’s editorial staff, or donors to TASI.

unscathed untouched yeah you’re being watched, found followed and forgotten It didn’t happen what was supposed to happen I don’t know sex, drugs wet moist salty on top inside, taste me audacious loquacious vivacious when are you scared to be a woman but I listened, escaped promised away alone together promised escaped away alone alone together listened away alone promised together away alone, away, alone, you’re killing me love,

A Eulogy

swept off carried totally out of reach left-hand spent affair with the drink

Authors must submit a daytime telephone number along with all submissions. Pen names are acceptable, but authors must supply real names for verification. All submitted works become property of TASI, and whether rejected or accepted, are not returned to the author. ISSUE does not notify of rejection by mail or telephone.


My fingers contain memory that my brain does not

in the hair on my leg,

They remember the letters and words

an ant traverses.

The periods, commas, semi-colons, spaces

With his machete mandibles,

The numbers and signs

he ambles through

The weight of emotion

the blondy brush and vines,

The nuance of feeling

canting his frantic antennae for signs of the lost column.

at some partially filled pore, he wipes his forehead with a leg and rests upon a pimple in a clearing near my knee. From there surveys the world

remember the strange things can’t recall until now did that lone bird go into the clouds

ISSUE 720 Franklin, Beaumont, TX 77701 or e-mail:

Almost not there,

Pausing only for a sip of sweat and you just won't give

Send typed works to:

You visited me early this morning You haven’t even knocked on my door until now and This time you didn’t knock You were just there Using me again Moving in on me

as far as he can see; You didn’t ask entrance reflects upon the marvels of creation, You were just there the freedom of his nation, and transubstantiation.

does it wait for me

Then, more mundanely,

It was like my fingers remembering Your harshness and totalitarianism

butterfly tank-tops on the corner human organs made-to-order blood shot eyes bitter dry mouth circle thought motion fault wonder wonder forget-me-not disappeared reappeared my spelling is shit, the drink is clumsy

checks his gear

plastic cups Irish Whiskey River, I had this quiet moment riot moment, kites fly in deserts like Afghans on white horses Rafi Lema Satera and Hameed sheep herders in ball rooms, mountains and hair mousse, the homecoming of man a borrowed vision of war,

Then, as if to finish off this satin shine,

At your entrance

raises up his ass and puts

My senses remembered

his full untiring weight behind

Like my fingers remember

the slender needled mass,

My body recalled the invasion

driving downward into oil

And memory pushed up on my mind

deep within the sebum soil;

Like keys of my typewriter

And that is why I wrote

Push back on my fingers

“A Eulogy.”

Enabling me to remember

before deciding on a path that’s near (the years of trooper-training obviously well engrained). He soldierly inspects his weapon,

Your pretty words punctuating Your ugliness Your assumption of assent Your territorial right instinct

testing bayonet for rapier point. Finds the thing still keen though somewhat stained;





wipes it clean till not a spot remains.

who are you and I to judge Solo


Jesse Doiron

Cathy Atkinson

14 • ISSUE October 2012

Volume 19, No. 2

CARAVANSERAI from page 9 explore them. It (painting) is absolutely tactile,” Coughlan said. “Which is how I employ the abstraction: Instead of looking at things in the obvious way, the viewers are able to see the layers underneath. They take part in the process themselves.” When questioned about the certain meanings behind his art, Coughlan smiles cryptically. “All art focuses on the nature of existence, really. It’s not just about the figure — although I do come back to it again and again … It’s a sense of connectivity to the human condition — our reactions to the world around us,” he said. Coughlan is no stranger to the spotlight. His paintings have received awards from Beaumont Art League, The Art Studio, Inc., Texas Artists Museum, Museum of the Gulf Coast, and his original artwork has been exhibited in museums and galleries all along the Gulf Coast. When not acting as Lamar’s director of student publications, Coughlan designs and edits the monthly arts magazine ISSUE (a winner of multiple Southeast Texas Press Club awards), creates editorial cartoons for the Beaumont Enterprise, and exhibits paintings in frequent one-man shows. His English accent can be heard wending its way through the halls of Lamar’s University Press to the stages of local theaters where he’s played everyone from the hero to the villain. A natural showman who delights in outrageous Broadway productions and the lure of the bright stage lights, he can often be heard belting out show tunes when sketching up an editorial cartoon. But here — in the studio — his voice sinks to a murmur, as if any ripple of activity might destroy the serene atmosphere he’s helped cultivate. “I prefer to let my art speak for itself,” Coughlan said, shrugging off any personal inquiries. “In the end, it doesn’t matter what I say about it, or how I interpret it. The whole purpose of art is to let others have their own experience with the work. It’s a personal exploration, a challenge to self.” View examples of Coughlan’s portfolio online at “Caravanserai: A Solo Exhibition” will be on display at the Art Studio Inc., located at 720 Franklin Street in Beaumont, through Oct. 27. For more information, call 409-838-5393.

Mission Statement Founded in 1983, The Art Studio, Inc. is devoted to: providing opportunities for interaction between the public and the Southeast Texas community of artists; furnishing affordable studio space to originating artists of every medium; promoting cultural growth and diversity of all art forms in Southeast Texas; and providing art educational opportunities to everyone, of every age, regardless of income level, race, national origin, sex or religion.

PURPOSE The purpose of The Art Studio, Inc. is to (1) provide educational opportunities between the general public and the community of artists and (2) to offer sustained support for the artist by operating a non-profit cooperative to provide studio space and exhibition space to working artists and crafts people, and to provide an area for group work sessions for those artists and crafts people to jointly offer their labor, ideas, and enthusiasm to each other.

GOALS 1. 2. 3. 4.


ISSUE photo by Michelle Cate

Andy Coughlan works in his space at The Art Studio, as he prepares for “Caravanserai,” an exhibition of recent work.

To present public exhibitions To provide educational opportunities To provide accessible equipment for artists To provide peer feedback through association with other artists and crafts people

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

To present 10 art exhibitions per year To maintain equipment for artists in a safe working environment To provide better access to artists for the public To offer regularly scheduled adult and children’s classes To develop and maintain public activities with all sectors of the community To develop and maintain equipment to aid artists in their work To provide a display retail outlet for artists To expand programming and activities with increased facility space

Volume 19, No. 2

October 2012 ISSUE • 15

VIEW from page 3 The Art Studio. Last year we were given a check in excess of $500 with very little participation. With a strong effort and good participation I am sure we can gain a larger portion of the funds that are available. Classes are back in style. Look for more classes to be available as we have had a run of interested students in all kinds of disciplines. New resident Abbie McLaurin, a professional painter, is conducting a beginning class in drawing. Intermediate level or artists who are a little rusty might find this enlightening as well. Check The Studio’s Web site for times and dates. Clay classes also are in high demand and a series of short workshops are in store to respond to shorter spans of leisure time. We are rearranging the clay studio to accommodate the classes and new residents. If you ever wanted to learn to draw or make clay things now is a great time. It relieves stress and lets you forget the problems of the world for a while, while you worry over the less earthshaking problems in art. It’s a good trade off.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED The Art Studio is looking for energetic people who have a few hours a month to help us in the following areas:

OFFICE SUPPORT BUILDINGS & GROUNDS SPECIAL EVENTS • MAILOUTS If you are interested in one or more of these opportunities or if you know of anyone who might be, give us a call at 409-838-5393

WE WANT YOU FOR BAND NITE Hear original music by local musicians at For upcoming gigs, visit the studio’s facebook page



All ages welcome • 21 and up BYOB and have your ID.

720 Franklin, Beaumont, Texas 77701

Non-Profit Org U.S. Postage PAID Permit #135 Beaumont, TX



When you support The Art Studio with your membership, you receive ISSUE, Southeast Texas’ and Southwest Louisiana’s alternative press as well as class schedules, invitations to opening receptions and various Studio functions.

Volunteers These people are the life blood of our organization. WE COULDN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU! To volunteer, drop by The Art Studio, Inc., or call 409-838-5393. Elizabeth Fontenot Bryan Castino Heather & Adam Butler Andy Ledesma Rhonda Rodman Sue Wright Cyndi Grimes Rhonda McNally Andy Coughlan Ben Jennings Beth Gallaspy John Roberts Beau Dumesnil Karen Dumesnil Sheila Busceme Kailee Viator Haley Bruyn Bryan LaVergne Gabe Sellers Ian Grice Abby McLaurin Samantha Wheeler Scott & John Alexander Heather Adams Terri Fox April Falgout B.J. Bourg Michelle falgout Dana Dorman Reagan Havens Anna Buchele Nick Wilcox





ISSUE Magazine  
ISSUE Magazine  

October 2012