Pappy and the Band

Painted gel plate in progress, 2022.

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.

“Pappy and the Band,” acrylic monotype on paper by Stephanie Khattak, 2022.

Imprint ATX at Contracommon

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, and Nature’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.

Future Cat Lady

Cat Lady in Training,” by Stephanie Khattak

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.

East Texas Loggers, 1930s

“Logging Team with HorsePower Engines,” by Stephanie Khattak. Acrylic monotype print. 20X26 on paper.

The early prosperity of East Texas started with trees, and the region had (and still has) plenty of those. There’s a reason I named my work “The Pine Curtain Project.” The part of East Texas where I am from is dense with pines – The Piney Woods. It is so much a part of the region’s identity that even today, the local university’s mascot is a Lumberjack, a popular local coffee shop is Java Jack’s, the best-known festival is the Forest Festival and the main drag in Lufkin is Timberland Drive. At the same time, the density of trees can either isolate or protect, depending on how you look at it. Like…a curtain. I imagine this “curtain effect” was even stronger before the timber industry moved in, cleared away and changed the physical, sociological and cultural landscape.

This image makes me think of the beginning of the end of an era, which I feel evolved over generations. It was a double-edged sword, or saw if you want a more thematically accurate metaphor. On one hand, clearing the trees made way for unprecedented economic and civic progress. On the other hand, once the curtain was pulled back, things would never be the same.


As I am more of an artist and less of an academic historian, please explore these links for citations and further reading:

Image Source: “Paul Durham, Sr. Hardwood Logging Crew,” The History Center.

The Texas Forestry Museum

Aldridge Sawmill“, Texas Beyond History.com

Art on a Monday

Abstract floral monotype by Stephanie Khattak.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton , No Man Is an Island

It’s Monday in “Studio No-Name,” and I’m still thinking on what to call my creative space. It won’t be Studio No-Name!

The process of naming my studio makes me think of the saying, “you must name it to claim it.” I have struggled with “claiming” my identity as an artist over the years, for all the reasons that many people do. I’m not conventionally educated. It’s not my primary income. I’m just not “there yet.” It doesn’t feel like “work”. But art is art and artists are artists. I think it’s important to take steps to legitimize the work that we do, whether our pieces are hung in galleries, displayed proudly at Mom’s house or decorating our own spaces. I’m trying to be better at claiming my practice, and so should you! (Even if we’ve never met, if you’re an artist, I suspect that you can relate to this.)

With that in mind, earlier today, I renewed my Texas Visual Arts Association membership and made a spreadsheet for places to submit work to in the next few months. This isn’t something I have done before, and I’m excited to try! It’s not an easy season of life to be an artist, especially an emerging artist, but opportunities are still there.


I have started a series of work that will be ready for sale in October. I closed my store at the beginning of the year, but I miss having it as a goal to work toward. The sales are nice, of course, but so is the self-directed goal of making enough work to post.

Because my Pine Curtain project is so specific, those pieces won’t be for sale, at least not right away. So, that frees my mind to switch to different subject matter and processes for a while. The above abstract floral is one of a few smaller works on paper that will be available, and I am also working, for the first time, on some larger pieces!

Print Portraits

Acrylic monotype print in progress by Stephanie Khattak
Acrylic monotype print in progress by Stephanie Khattak

My mom came for a short visit a few weekends ago, and brought another stack of family photos. It included these 1940s-era portraits of my grandmother and great-aunt, both of whom I was very close to.

Creatively, I thought that the portrait style would work well printed from my round Gelli plate. Personally, I enjoyed making these because it gave me the opportunity to remember my MiMi and Auntie, and think about what their lives may have been like when they posed for these photos and all the hopes and dreams they had for themselves at that time. My Auntie outlived my MiMi by 32 years, but I think they both had really good lives that they enjoyed and were proud of. That’s comforting to know as I am painting and printing their portraits and thinking of them, and still missing them, too.