Greetings, everyone! I have finally made it back to the House of Karlsson after eleven days (one of them unintentional) on the road. Since it was such an adventuresome journey, I will be doing this blog in two parts. This first part deals with the primary reason for my trip: Round Top Winterfest.
First of all, I'd like to say that I regret not taking more pictures. The quality of art at this show was absolutely phenomenal, and if you decided not to visit because the weather was bad, then you really missed out. I feel privileged to be included in such a group of talented artists. Words alone cannot do justice to two of the artists especially. One was Julie Howard, the artist behind J. Howard Organic Pastels. Y'ALL. THIS WOMAN IS A ROCK STAR. She does things with the old-school vegetable-based pigment pastels that I didn't even realize were possible. Her work is the most outstanding depiction of water and how it behaves in light that I have ever seen. I'll put a link at the bottom of this so you can do yourself a favor and go check it out. Another extremely talented artist who I was sharing gallery space with was Sally Maxwell. She is a pioneer in scratchboard illustration, and her work is so realistic that the large portrait of a grizzly bear that was facing my booth kept triggering my fight-or-flight response. She was kind enough to explain to her patrons what scratchboard illustration is and how it works, and how she was the first to add color to the medium. I will also put a link at the bottom of this blog for your perusal and enlightenment. I honestly can't believe I had the great good fortune to share space with these two fantastically talented and hardworking artists.
I rolled in to Round Top to do setup. There were three barn-type buildings out in the rolling hills of east central Texas. Round Top is a cute little town. You'd never know it was there unless you were going there on purpose. There is a coffee shop there with excellent coffee and breakfast, and there are a surprising amount of art galleries and antique stores. I was told that there is a ginormous antique show every year that attracts people from all over the country. Last year, this art show coincided with it, but this year they scheduled it a week after the fact. The weather was promising to be mucky and cold, so I personally did not hold out much hope for attendance. Below are some pictures of the facility and my booth setup.
The show itself was moderately attended. I found it interesting how a lot of the visitors knew a lot of the artists. I hope someday have a following of my own like that, but that's going to take a while, since I've only been doing art shows for less than a year. The overall vibe of the show was good, and I made three sales. The first to go was the bamboo mountain beauty, and that sold before the show even started!!! The other was a big, beautiful piece of Hubei turquoise that someone on Etsy had her eye on, but an artist's husband snatched it up as a Valentine's Day gift before she could get back to it. The third one was a unique little piece that sadly I only have one picture of, and it isn't a very good picture. I also got to meet a lot of great people and get ideas for shows where my work might do well. I'd say it was a productive weekend, all in all.
I stayed in La Grange, which wasn't too bad. I will tell you that traveling those old country roads at night in the fog is a bit of a white-knuckle experience. I used to have to do that all the time back in Tennessee (and I could tell you some hair-raising tales, but that's for another day), but it's been twenty years since I've had to do that, and the mind forgets. I did manage to find the highly touted Hruska's on Highway 71, but wouldn't you know it! They were completely out of kolaches! I did find some of my absolute favorite candy, though, so that was some consolation. I guess the mystery of "who does it better: Czech Stop or Hruska's" will have to remain unsolved.
The hotel I stayed at wasn't very fancy, but what it lacked in fanciness, it more than made up for in ... well.... I don't know if there is really an English word for it. That feeling you get when you go to a place and everyone is comfortable and safe and welcome. I don't know if cozy is the appropriate word, but I'll let you figure it out for yourself. The hotel was home to quite a few families being housed there by FEMA. They had lost both houses and jobs, and had been moved from the coast up to La Grange. The hotel manager was kind enough to let them cook in the little kitchen where the breakfast was made. Let me tell you, I do not know WHO was in charge of cooking for all those FEMA families, but I would have paid that person good money for a plate of the carne asada he was fixing. It smelled amazing and put my Whataburger takeout to shame. I also had some fun chats with the night desk clerk, Miss Brenda. She told me about the 150 year old cabin she lived in out in the far reaches of Round Top, and how the neighborhood raccoon would try to break in to the house to steal food on a daily basis. She had to rig the door so she wouldn't find it in her kitchen when she got home. She also didn't have heat, so she was staying with her daughter until things got warmed up and her car got the brakes fixed.
I also caught other glimpses of daily life in rural Texas. For instance, at the gas pump, there was this:
"Howdy, neighbors!" I don't think it gets much more Texan than that, and I don't think you'll find those on gas pumps in DFW. I also went to the HEB in La Grange (COME ON DALLAS, WE NEED THESE IN OUR LIVES!!!) and saw this in the checkout line:
When a lot of your neighbors are of the feathery, scaly, or fuzzy variety, it behooves you to get to know them on your own terms before you discover them under your front porch. I personally think the people in my neighborhood could use these guides, considering how much they freak out about the neighborhood critters, and how few of them can properly identify common species.
On the way out of La Grange I found Big State Coffee Roasters. I guess I should say I found them by smell, because there is no way on earth a person could find them by themselves unless they knew the hidden-in-plain-sight location. It was a quirky little coffee shop with the BEST maple walnut scones I have ever tasted in my whole life. It was a mystery to me why this place was not packed at 8:45am on a Monday morning, but there we are.
After I left Big State Coffee Roasters, I headed out on Highway 77, which was a straight shot to Corpus Christi, my next destination. Unfortunately, Highway 77 was blocked by both a rockslide and a jackknifed 18-wheeler, and I had to find another route. You'll just have to tune in next time to see where I ended up before I eventually got to where I was going!
For further exploration:
Julie Howard: https://www.organicpastels.com/
Sally Maxwell: www.sallymaxwell.com/