A reward of my interest in family history and research is learning not only who my family was as individuals, but how they influenced me. Both of my parents are musicians, my dad – a Gen Z wrapped in a Boomer wrapped in a lounge singer – has an impressive online music career with a bigger and more engaged audience than I could ever hope for. My mom sings and plays the piano and organ but mostly at church. They don’t collaborate because they have ….let’s just say creative differences. But music has always been a part of my life and our household.
I learned from my paternal grandmother that she had written and recorded a song back in the 40s in Houston. This tracks, because my cousin on that side is also a really talented musician – singer, songwriter and guitarist.
But what about my mom’s side of the family? She had a lot of formal music classes, but there had to have been something there for those classes to refine.
In our church archives, there’s a photo of a band in the early 60s, and the guitarist is my great-grandfather on my mom’s side, Pappy. Aha!
I really like this photo, not only because Pappy is in it, but also because it captures a time in the Homer community when it was really thriving – there were enough people to form a band and enough people to come hear them play. This was the case until I was about 17, and then it started to dwindle down. In junior high, my youth group friends and I stood on that same stage and lip synced into bananas calling ourselves “Banangles.” (Not sure why we didn’t go for the obvious Bananarama, but why be obvious when you can surprise and delight?)
I wonder what Pappy and his friends would have thought about the Banangles. But, I also don’t know what songs they, themselves were playing. Same place, same community, same (or similar) families – whatever they were doing, I bet it was fun.
Almost one month into 2022, I am finally able to get back in my studio and make fresh monotype prints. Because this process must be completed in one go, it needs more dedicated time than other types of art. And time is something that has been in short supply!
For the my first print of 2022, I chose a vintage photo of my great-grandparents in the 1920s or 30s. Doing the math now, I realize this would make it close to 100 years ago. That seems hard to believe. While Beatrice died at 68 in 1978, Charlie, aka Grandy, lived into his nineties – almost to the year 2000! So, I knew him quite well.
What I like about this photo – other than the people in it – is how stylish she looks. I was too young to have memories of Beatrice before she passed, but I have always been told about her fashion sense and desire to keep current on trends. I see her angular 1920s bob and her shoes and think this was a person who had a sensibility beyond her rural environment.
Not sure if Grandy shared her fashion sense, but I remember that he didn’t like being gifted jogging suits at Christmas. So, maybe.
My art is currently being exhibited at Imprint ATX, a group exhibition held in conjunction with PrintAustin at Contracommon in Bee Cave. It’s free to see, and up through Feb. 15.
I made a quick trip down to Austin in early January to hang my art, and see the space for the first time. Only a few other artists had installed their work when I was there, but what I saw, and have since seen in photographs, is really impressive. Contracommon is a beautiful, light-filled space and the drive there takes you through some really pretty scenery. And it’s not too far from The County Line BBQ, and Sandeez Hamburger Hut! What I’m saying is, there are plenty of reasons to make the trip to see this show. If you do, please tag me on Instagram @pinecurtainproject!
Hanging on the wall are originals: “Kerrville, Texas” and “Grand Saline Hall.” Hand-embellished, one-of-a-kind signed, matted and framed smaller prints are “Downtown Austin, 1940s” and “Fairground Fun.” I also took a selection of unframed hand-embellished prints, including East Texas Church, Railroad Gang, andNature’s Playground. If you are interested in pricing, purchase or more information regarding these specific pieces, please contact Contracommon, or let me know and I will put you in touch.
Each year, my community church puts up a lighted nativity scene, replacing the live nativity scene that it produced in the 1980s, after everyone got older and more tired. After Thanksgiving, busy groups of people work together to test lights, assemble figures and finally, install them on the church grounds and roof. This piece is based on a photo of that process. (I dare not call it vintage since it was within the last 15 years!)
I purposefully left the figures a little abstract. The main reason is because they’re so tiny that trying to personalize them would not render them recognizable anyway. But also because at gatherings like these, it is less about the individual and more about the group. And I would go further and say it is less about this particular group, and more about the spirit of tradition and faith moving through them, as it has before, after and as it will again.
This is another large piece in progress, inspired by a photo from The History Center, of Lufkin Dunbar High School’s marching band performing at a Christmas parade in 1965. So much to like about this photo that I wanted to capture – the uniforms, the mod-looking building behind the crowd. and while it is hard to see here, the Christmas decorations in the background.
This photo was taken in 1965, whenLufkin was still a segregated school district, and Black students attended Lufkin Dunbar High School. The school, named for *poet and writer Paul Laurence Dunbar, was known for excellence in academics, athletics and leadership.
After integration, Dunbar became the district’s middle school, and it now serves as both Dunbar Primary and the Lufkin ISD education center, as well as hosting the Dunbar Hall of Honor.
As with so many other subjects I have researched, this photo was a valuable if much, much belated opportunity to learn more about Dunbar High School and its legacy.
*Note: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s 1899 poem Sympathy inspired the title of Maya Angelou’s bookI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings!
This piece was taken from a vintage photo of my great-aunts and one of their daughters playing at the beach in the early 40s. The young woman to the far left, in the pink dress died of appendicitis in 1944 at age 18, which is probably not too long after the photo was taken. Our family has always been close to our “aunties” and this one has been a bit of a mystery to us. Her sisters had “flower” names, Myrtle, Lila, Viola, Lucille Lilly…her name was Letha, perhaps after the town of Oletha where her father was born. Very few photos of her exist, and this is the only one I have seen, shared with me by my cousin. But this is a great one, capturing what I imagine was a nice day at the beach with her sisters and little niece.
Christmas Cat says that it feels early, but it’s actually the right time to be thinking about holiday gifts from Khattak Studios and the Pine Curtain Project. Getting commission requests to me by October 15 best ensures that your gift will be completed and delivered in time to frame (if necessary), wrap, and give to your loved one. Commissioning cards by Oct. 15 helps me produce and get them to you in time to send holiday greetings.
I have five commissioned original slots open, and you can also commission prints and postcards from completed work, starting at size 5×7 and going up to size 18X24. Items ship unframed and envelopes aren’t included, but a retailer like Paper Source has many envelope color options for size 5X7.
If you’re looking for holiday themed prints, these are very popular:
“East Texas Church, 1930s” This is an image that I could add Christmas lights or other holiday elements to, to make it more personalized for the occasion.
Commissioned originals and commissioned, hand-embellished studio prints are made to order. Please allow up to six weeks for production, shipping and handling, and delivery of holiday orders. Please contact me for pricing and other details. More recent work can be found here.
If you have been connected with me for any amount of time, you know I am a cat lady. Here is the kitty that started it all, Baby Kitty in my arms, in this print based off of a 1979 photo. Baby Kitty was a gray striped tabby who lived in the barn between my house and my great-grandmother’s house. I don’t remember her being an inside cat, but she was always around and a really good sport while I learned to love animals. Baby Kitty was a beloved member of our family, to be cherished and pampered as such. As has been the case with every cat, dog (and in my cousins’ cases – horse, snake, parakeet and Galapagos turtle) since then.