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Inside the Artist’s Studio: Why I am an Art Professor, A Personal Thank You O Captain!


Chris Stewart BirdBy Derrick White

“You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.’ Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!” – said by the character John Keating from the film “Dead Poets Society”

Chris Stewart 3It is sentimentalized in books and movies all the time, the impact another person, especially a teacher, can have on one’s life. I am sure if we all paused for a moment to think, there would be a short list of human beings, other than family members, who have helped shape the people we are today, hopefully for the better. “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could,” is a quote from Zig Ziglar. This applies directly to my daily life, and the reassurance and freedom I have been given to do my job my way and with the confidence of knowing someone believes in me and supports my decisions even when he doesn’t agree with them. I am able to do my job well for one simple reason; I have the full encouragement of my boss.

In 1998, after the birth of our daughter, I knew I had to do something to better provide for my family and so I quit my full-time warehouse job and began working at the Arlington Museum of Art, Tarrant County College, and teaching night art classes at Eastfield Community College in Mesquite, all concurrently. Two years later I applied for a position at Tyler Junior College and although I interviewed, I did not receive the job. Fortunately, due to continued growth in the TJC art department another full-time position opened up the following year (the imbedded lesson here – persevere). I applied again and was hired by an inspiring professor, artist, person, and the most proactive and effective leader I have ever known; frankly, the world’s best boss.

Chris Stewart 1Art department chairperson Christopher Stewart is leaving Tyler Junior College after over 21 years of dedication and service to the East Texas arts community and managing a department of working professional artists and professors he has formed into a family. Chris is advancing to an opportunity awaiting him in West Texas. I have worked alongside Chris for 15 years feeling like a collaborator in building something great. Something we both believe is important. One of my colleagues still celebrates what his family calls ‘Saint Christopher Day’ – the anniversary of receiving the call from Chris Stewart telling him he had been hired to join us at TJC. Chris Stewart’s leaving is a huge artistic, educational, and creative loss for East Texas. Ouch! There needs to be a way to know you are in the good ol’ days before they are actually gone. Somehow, we will endure.

Chris Stewart 4One of the great things about having Chris Stewart as your boss is he can be intimidating. Even after all this time, he will call me into his office and I immediately think I am in trouble, only to find he wants to share an interesting film trailer or website he feels I might find useful. He is a very tall, brooding, red-headed man capable of riding 50 miles on a bicycle and crushing argumentative students with merely a quick Eastwood-style stare. As another colleague puts it, “Chris Stewart’s patronus (powerful magical guardian) is himself.” He is the precise guy you want in your corner, on your side, protecting your interests, and backing you up, which he does justly, honorably, and faithfully. I am an art professor because Chris Stewart believes I should be one. He gave me a chance when I needed it and allowed me to find my own teaching voice. He permits his faculty to do their job, expects them to do it right, discover their style, and exercises their strengths. Over the last two decades Chris has built the most vibrant and dynamic department on the campus of Tyler Junior College and one of the best art programs in the state of Texas.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him. He is very intelligent and knowledgeable, but can also comfortably discuss current events, films or have casual conversation with faculty and students. His door is literally always open for advising, student arbitration, or a good joke. Chris has an inspiring and outstanding work ethic. Chris is an impressive professor and motivator with a love for art, teaching, and learning. Chris Stewart’s strength is his ability to lead by example. He has very high expectations for himself, our school, our students, and the arts in our region. He has served our community well, and I consider him a great supervisor and an even greater friend. He has guided me through both professional and personal life issues and has been a source of amazing support and understanding for my family.

Chris Stewart  4There has never been a problem Chris hasn’t been able to resolve. He is supportive of department decisions, willing to lend advice, and make fair, prudent judgments when necessary. Chris Stewart has been instrumental in building an energetic and profitable program at Tyler Junior College. The growth of our department has steadily increased, even when overall college enrollment has fluctuated. Our reputation on campus and in the local and state community is strong and respected. If we are credited with getting things done right, Chris Stewart is the reason why; he’s an inspiration for living YOUR best life. The movie “Dead Poets Society” makes references to a Walt Whitman poem, especially when the teacher tells his students that they may call him “O Captain! My Captain!” if they feel daring enough to do so. At the dramatic end of the film, the students show their support to the parting instructor by reciting the phrase while standing on their desks. I’m standing atop my desk right now. Chris, you will be missed. You have made an important impact on many, especially me. Thank you.

Chris Stewart received a BFA degree from Texas Tech University and his MFA degree from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has accepted the position of Department Chair for the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.

To see more of Chris’ art visit www.christopher-stewart.com.


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Art

Tyler Museum of Art Creativity Camps Begin

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Tyler Museum of Art Creativity Camps 2018

9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. M-F * Ages 6-12 * $40 per day/$175 per week

TMA World Tour 2018      June 25-29

We’ll expand the visual arts to include music and performance. In addition to our visual art activities, our young artists will make musical instruments, learn a song, and play a mini-concert at the end of the week.

Upside-down and Backward      July 9-13

Everything looks different from a fresh perspective. Drawing underwater, painting with spaghetti, there’s no telling what will happen when we change the way we make art. This camp is all about real creativity, and our young artists will help us brainstorm up new, exciting projects all week long.

Beachcombers’ Paradise     July 16-20

Love the seashore but hate sunburns and foot-scorching sand? Come explore marine environments through art! Biology, art and fun merge into one great experience as we learn about the weird, wonderful world of sea life and environments, and express our new knowledge through art.

5 Days Away from Rose City   July 23-27

Some of the country’s greatest artists call the Lone Star State home. We will explore the geographical regions of Texas and the artists who gain inspiration in them, ending up right here in East Texas.

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Art

6×6@110 Continues at Gallery Main Street

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Skip the line, purchase tickets in advance HERE.
Purchase VIP tickets HERE.

The annual 6×6@110 is an art fundraising project to benefit Gallery Main Street in Downtown Tyler, Texas. The gallery is a City of Tyler facility operated with the cooperation of the Downtown Tyler Arts Coalition, an all-volunteer group of artists who schedule and jury fine arts exhibits and organize projects. All of the net proceeds of 6×6@110 will go to support those activities.

The annual 6×6@110 fundraising project will be held June 6th at 6pm. Each piece will be sold for $20, with all proceeds going to help fund the City of Tyler Main Street Department, which operates Gallery Main Street.

The name “6×6@110” reflects the fact that all artwork sold in the show will be 6”x6”, and will be shown at Gallery Main Street at 110 W. Erwin, Downtown Tyler.

For more info on this project go to downtowntylerarts.com, call (903)593-6905, or follow the Downtown Tyler Facebook Page.

The 2017 6×6@110 featured over 1000 works by hundreds of participants. The project earned the distinction of receiving the Best Promotional Event award from the Texas Downtown Association.

First Solo Show Opening

Help celebrate the opening of Gallery Main Street’s first fine art solo artist exhibit on Saturday, May 12th, 5:30-8pm. This free event will feature the opportunity to meet the artist and be among the first to see and purchase pieces from the exhibit. The exhibit will run through June 4th.

The jury will select the top three groups of submittals and then additional information and show descriptions will be submitted. The jury will review all additional information and will announce the solo artist on April 28th.

Other Upcoming Exhibits

Remaining shows this year are:

  • Solo Show #1 – Opening May 12th
  • “6x6x10” – Deadline June 1st, opening June 6th
  • Solo Show #2 – Deadline June 17th, opening July 14th
  • “Assemblies” – Deadline July 29th, opening August 11th
  • “Alternate Perspective” – Deadline September 30th, opening October 13th
  • Holiday Market – Deadline November 25th, opening December 8th

You can enter your art at DowntownTylerArts.com. For more info call (903)593-6905 or go to DowntownTylerArts.com.

Gallery Main Street features a new exhibit of original art approximately every eight weeks. Each exhibit opens with a Saturday evening reception that features music, an opportunity to meet the artists, refreshments, and more. The Opening Receptions are free and open to the public.

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Art

Art Events Warming Up For Summer

Events & Classes

June 16th (11am-11:30pm) June 17th (11am-4pm) – Junebug Art and Music Festival – Calling all artists! Junebug is an annual community Art and Music festival with an afternoon farmers market. This event encompasses art in its many forms. There will be teachers of weaving and soap making, along with hands on pottery wheel demonstrations. Attendees’ senses will be engulfed by the sights, sound, smell, and feel of all that is to be offered at this very unique art event in a very quaint little artsy community. The show will offer up a stage filled with eclectic musicians, bands, and songwriters. Saturday there will be a community Farmers Market where locals can sell their organic and/or locally sourced products. Vendor and artist applications are available at theforgebenwheeler.com. The family-friendly festival, which is located in the tiny art enclave of Ben Wheeler,TX, highlights the work of artists, musicians, and artisans from the Lone Star state. Headquartered on the three-acre park-like property surrounding the FORGE (a local restaurant, bar, and music venue), the festival will give attendees an opportunity to witness the creative process through “live art” displays as well as the chance to actively join in the process. For more information email junebugsummerfair@gmail.com.

June 22nd (7-9pm) – Paperbark Studio Pop Up will be held at Strada Caffe, 302 E. Front St., Tyler. Come join us for a pop-up art show featuring Paperbark Studio as well as craft beer, wine, and small plates, espresso bar and pastry case. Come enjoy a wonderful summer evening of local art!

June 26th (6-8pm) – Kids Canvas Paint Party – Tyler Parks and Recreation is hosting a Kids Paint Party at the Glass Recreation Center for children ages 7-12 years old. For more information, please visit TylerParksandRec.com.

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