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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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“Apertures of the Mind: Works by Abhidnya Ghuge” at TMA

Tyler TX Apertures of the Mind Works Abhidnya Ghuge Tyler Museum

This Month at Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler TX

The Tyler Museum of Art (TMA) is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave. on the Tyler Junior College main campus.

Regular TMA hours are 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday, and 1-5pm Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays and most major holidays.

For more info call the museum at (903)595-1001, tylermuseum.org, or email info@tylermuseum.org.

“Apertures of the Mind: Works by Abhidnya Ghuge”

The Tyler Museum of Art is proud to present the first large-scale museum exhibition of an emerging East Texas talent with “Apertures of the Mind: Works by Abhidnya Ghuge” from September 7th-December 2nd. Admission is free.

Born in India, Ghuge is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Tyler. She is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Tyler. Inspired by a blend of Indian henna designs and imagery from her previous medical profession, Ghuge’s work explores themes of community, time, and value.

“Apertures of the Mind” features hand-carved woodblocks, ink and gouache drawings, and mixed media wall pieces. The exhibition also will include a site-responsive installation constructed out of woodblock-printed paper plates. Ghuge’s work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States. Her work can be found in public and private collections in India, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Support for “Apertures of the Mind” is provided by Collectors’ Circle-Gold Sponsor Sheryl Rogers Palmer.

Members and special guests are invited for a first look at the exhibition during the Preview Reception from 5:30-7pm Thursday, September 6th at the Museum.

“This & That: Recent Acquisitions”

The Tyler Museum of Art was the recent beneficiary of an extraordinary opportunity to bring back more than 30 works dispersed from the Permanent Collection of The Contemporary Austin. This will be on exhibit September 30th-January 6th, 2019.

Family Days: September 8th, October 13th, November 10th

Free admission, interactive art projects, light snacks and a festive atmosphere for all ages are on the menu from 2-4pm the second Saturday of each month with the Tyler Museum of Art’s Family Day.

First Friday: September 7th, October 5th, November 2nd

The first Friday of each month, the TMA offers a full day of free admission plus guided tours of its spotlight exhibitions at 11am. From contemporary Texas art to Hudson River School to Andy Warhol, each tour is unique.


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6th Annual Art of Peace: Day of Kids, Concerts & More

Tyler TX Art of Peace 2018

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The 6th Annual “Art Of Peace – Tyler” is September 14th-23rd. Come out and celebrate Peace and Community spirit.

The 8th Annual Art of Peace festival has grown from an afternoon of programs to a week long series of peace-activities and programs throughout Tyler. This is a community-wide event to celebrate the United Nations International Day of Peace (officially on September 21st) and to encourage community spirit. The aim of the Art of Peace – Tyler is to promote a spirit of cooperation and community through fellowship, dialogue, music, poetry, and art.

By date, here are the events planned for this year’s festival events. All events are free unless noted.

Friday, September 14th

Honk for Peace, 12 noon-1pm

Downtown Square in Tyler

Every Friday on the Downtown Square in Tyler, a group of people dedicated to peace hold signs encouraging us to wage peace and not war. The Art of Peace is proud of their weekly vigil and this year, we are going to join them. Make a sign of your own and join the group to promote peace in Tyler.

Saturday, September 15th

Day for Kids, 10am-2pm

Boys & Girls Club of East Texas at Southside Park – off the Rose Rudman Trail, Shiloh and Donnybrook- Tyler, TX

Visit the Art of Peace – Tyler booth at the annual Boys & Girls Club of East Texas Day for Kids. Bring your family for interactive art projects and write peace messages on boards for the next Habitat for Humanity of Smith County home.

Monday, September 17th

Peace Meal, 6:00pm

Tyler ISD Career and Technology Center, 3013 Earl Campbell Pkwy., Tyler, TX

Celebrate Peace by joining community members, peace advocates, and new friends for an open table meal and uplifting program to celebrate peace! Dinner will cost $12 per adult and $8 for college students and younger. Space is limited.  You may register and pay for your seat on tylerpeace.com. If financial assistance is needed for this event, please send a private message through the contact page on the website. Spread the word around and help grow this wonderful event!

Tuesday, September 18th

Meditation: Bridging the Heart-Mind Divide, 5:00-6:45pm

Tyler Public Library – Taylor Auditorium, 201 S. College, Tyler, TX

Take time to explore inner peace at this inspiring Art of Peace presentation, followed by a session of Heartfulness Meditation led by UT Tyler instructor and meditation trainer Gayathri Kambhampati. This event is co-sponsored by the Tyler Public Library.

Tyler Talking Together, 7-9pm

The Foundry Coffee House – 2nd Floor, 202 S. Broadway, Tyler, TX

Promote peace through relationships.  Come have meaningful conversations about race.  Participate in facilitated activities with people from different backgrounds and races.  By getting to know fellow Tyler residents, we help to dispel stereotypes and fears to build strong, supportive communities for all residents.   Come prepared to share your stories and experiences through conversation. This event is co-sponsored by Tyler Together Race Relations Form.

Thursday, September 20th

Songs of Peace, 6:30-9:30pm

Stanley’s Famous BBQ, 525 S Beckham Ave., Tyler, TX

Enjoy an evening of great BBQ and live music, while you get to know local peace advocates at one of Tyler’s favorite gathering spots. Dinner will be on your own. Music will be provided by: Eric Mosley, Connie Mims Pinkerton, Eric George

Friday, September 21st

Peace Pole Dedication, 12 noon

Rose Rudman Park, 450 Shiloh Rd., Tyler, TX

Commemorate the U.N. International Day of Peace by helping dedicate the 2018 Art of Peace annual Peace Pole being installed at Rose Rudman Park. The program includes interfaith prayers, songs, readings and messages of peace spoken in a variety of languages. The peace pole is co-sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Tyler and artist Kerian Massey.

  • 2017 – Tyler Peace Pole may be seen at Bergfeld Park.
  • 2016 – Tyler Peace Pole may be seen at the Woldert Park next to the Glass Recreation Center.
  • 2015 – Tyler Peace Pole may be seen at the Duane Andrews Peace Garden at the St. Paul Children’s Foundation.
  • 2014 – Tyler Peace Pole may be seen at the Tyler Rose Garden. It is currently being replanted.

All of the current Peace Poles have been lovingly donated by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Tyler. If your church or business or school would like to place a Peace Pole, please let us know and we would love to add it to our list of poles in the Tyler area.

Peace Concert: Trout Fishing in America, 7pm

Liberty Hall, 103 E. Erwin, Tyler, TX

Celebrate Peace Day with uplifting entertainment by the award-winning musical duo, Trout Fishing in America. Their delightful performances speak to young and old alike, with a blend of music and storytelling, sprinkled with trademark humor. This is music for people who take their fun seriously. Four-time Grammy award nominees, Trout Fishing in America has been performing music for 3 decades that get kids and adults alike singing and bouncing along. In addition, they also delight children with their arresting physical appearance: Ezra Idlet stands at a whopping 6’8″ tall, and Keith Grimwood remains roughly 14 inches shorter than his bandmate. With songs like My Hair Had a Party Last Night and When I Was a Dinosaur, Grimwood and Idlet are “the Lennon and McCartney of kids music” – Kathy O’Connell, NPR.
After the concert, we will form and photograph our annual Art of Peace LIVING PEACE SIGN on the DOWNTOWN SQUARE. The concert is co-hosted by Liberty Hall. Tickets are available for purchase online at tylerpeace.com.

Sunday, September 16th-23rd

“Peace” Art Exhibit

Tyler Museum of Art, 1300 South Mahon Avenue – Tyler (on campus of TJC)

“Our 2018 Art of Peace visual art exhibit is presented in cooperation with the Tyler Museum of Art, where selected art will be on display from September 16th–23rd. The exhibit is free and open to the public during museum hours; Monday through Saturday 10am-5pm, Sundays 1-5pm.

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Submissions Due September 30th for GMS’s “Alternate Perspectives”

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Call for submittals for the “Alternate Perspectives” Downtown Gallery exhibit

Local artists are invited to submit their work for the jurying phase of Gallery Main Street’s “Alternate Perspectives” fine art exhibit. The deadline for entry is midnight on Sunday, Sept. 30.

The description for “Alternate Perspectives” offers the following: “A show giving artists a chance to understand what one person sees is not always the same as what another’s view will be. Each person’s past, coupled with their personality provides a multitude of opinions and with that alternative solutions. One person might see a cloud as just a cloud while another sees a face, leaving both people with a different view of the same thing.”

Artists should visit DowntownTylerArts.com and click on “Gallery Exhibits” and then “Gallery Exhibit Information for Artists” in the left-hand column of the page. That link will lead artists to a page that provides all of the information they need, as well as links to the actual entry service site.

Information on Gallery Main Street hours and rules for entering the exhibit jury process can be found at DowntownTylerArts.com or by calling (903) 593-6905.

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