One thing is for certain about Texas. You won’t have any doubt which state you are entering! At one point along the border, there are 3 different types of signs that read “TEXAS.”
We enter Houston and (after replacing our windshield from a rogue rock) visit a little building named Archway Gallery. We aren’t displaying a painting here, but hope that the local art will introduce us to the area. We turn to the woman at the desk. She is quick to write a list of all the “Houston must sees.” This personalized tour was one of the best we’ve been on as it took us by the most interesting oddities we could have asked for. Sites such as a house made of beer cans, a motor home in the shape of a missile, a circus made of junk and a 54 ft. man-made, waterfall were on her list. If not for pausing to inquire with a local Houston, we may never have happened upon all the fantastic quirkiness that this city offers.
In Austin, saying that the ostentatious state capital defined state pride would be more than an understatement. Just in case we forget where we are (which is actually possible while living in a new state every week!), Texas reminds us! The walls, chandeliers, and even door hinges are labeled with a capital T-E-X-A-S. Our guide speaks of the six flags that have flown over the state in its struggled for independence. While we hear of the many hands Texas has passed into and the trials they overcame to finally become a state, we begin to understand why they where their title so loudly. However, our journey has just begun as we continue on to explore the vast diversity of this “country-sized state,” as it becomes clear that this is the first state which the shear size demands we spend more than a week!
Beyond Houston’s uniqueness, Austin’s vanity, the liveliness of Dallas and the romantic waterways of San Antonio, we find a bit of “nowhere” that floods inspiration into my soul. They call this place Pedernales State Park, and we spend an entire day exploring turquoise pools of water that travel down, into and around, solid rock. Signs warn us of flash flooding, and the roots of gray trees pose tangled in each other. Like fingers twisting and grasping for a foundation, these quiet giants search for stability. Where water has ripped the soil from beneath their base, rocks have settled into the uncertain foundation. I decide that this is the perfect imagery to reflect how Texas as a whole struggled to establish stable roots. Another favorite part is the bold signage such as one in Hondo, Texas that reads “This is God’s Country, Please don’t drive through it like Hell.” It is also the first time that I’ve seen the government border crossing sign with a woman dragging her child behind and I can only imagine the character who designed and approved that to be posted!
I work in the car, a hotel room and Oklahoma’s Vendome Flower Park before finishing the Texas-inspired piece for this series. After uploading the finished image to our website, I receive a comment saying, “I just don’t see much Texas in that.” As an artist, you but your soul into every piece so I can’t help to reflect on this comment. To me, the canvas has layers of inspiration and symbols from my time exploring this wild state. I’m okay that it doesn’t flash “TEXAS” in neon letters because it is not my objective to simply represent each state in its entirety or even its highlights. I could accomplish all that from the comforts of my own home without ever setting foot on the land. My goal with this entire series is to illustrate the feeling, landscape and/or history that inspires me during my short interaction with each state. It is important that viewers understand that this is a personal journey, and not simply a postcard depiction of our nation. In sharing Alfonso’s and my experiences, we hope to define and illustrate the adventure that lies within this amazing country and that is what will inspire others to get out and find their own America.