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Coy Lothrop: Inside the Artist’s Studio

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Inside the Artist’s Studio:

Pine Curtain Portraits

The life impact of Coy Lothrop’s paintings.

By Derrick White

“I’ve always believed great art is about life. In retrospect, the opposite is also true: art has made my life great, and it is the people you meet along the way making the enriching difference,” states artist Coy Lothrop, adding, “My work addresses the human condition and records contemporary society, for better or worse, and how growth, emotionality, conflict, and mortality manifest in the human figure and their environments in the most intimate ways.”

Lothrop was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but has lived most of his life in the small towns dotting the piney woods of East Texas. He has worked as a visual designer, illustrator, creative director, and an educator. He is a graduate studio art major at the University of Texas at Tyler. His art presents the viewer with a familiar, current interpretation of the genre of painted portraiture. His portraits address emotional, universal truths and illuminate shared societal issues. Lothrop teaches at Kilgore College as a professor of Advertising and Graphic Design, where he has served and advised for 19 years. “I started at Kilgore College with the dream to be a practicing fine artist showing in exhibitions and selling in galleries. I also took several classes in Photography because I thought being able to capture my reference material would be a great asset in my skill set. I transferred to the University of North Texas, Denton, and studied studio art with an emphasis in painting and drawing, but I also took classes in art history and photography. Due to some issues back home with my father and his health, I returned home, my degree incomplete,” states the artist. 

In 2000, Coy began teaching Advertising and Graphic Design at Kilgore College part-time, and in 2011, he went full-time. He considers teaching art to be a dream job. Lothrop informs, “Teaching affords me a lot of free time back into my life. In the design industry, I was working 12 – 14 hours days as a creative director and spending most of my time managing the business rather than making art. With the extra time in my day and summers off with a wide-open schedule, I decided to return to higher education and pursue my first love, painting, and drawing.” Coy Lothrop is currently in the UTT graduate school program working to complete a MFA degree in studio art.

Lothrop’s paintings are dynamic, bold, and immediate enamoring viewers with sumptuous, expressive, and gestural marks of paint coalescing into compositions of exquisite realism. Coy explains, “I try to make brushwork look effortless but really it takes a lot of thought and buildup to arrive at something I’m happy with, so I’m still not there yet. I embrace the expressive qualities inherent in paint. I want to display evidence of the hand and convey a painting is a painting – a work more valuable, in my opinion, than a capture on film and more personal and unique.”

Lothrop adds, “Beyond the material, I am looking to express a human narrative or universal truth all viewers can associate with. Telling a story or presenting a message is important to me. I like to think my work, in its variety of faces, environments, and objects is a call to action. I attempt, through my formal choices of composition, color, line, and anatomical construction, along with a few key details and implied clues, to generate agents of change out of viewers who would engage the work and seek its story of truth. My desire to generate awareness regarding issues directly affecting the people I serve daily – students, family, or others – drives me to make images that matter. So it isn’t strictly portraits I am making, but rather, I like to think I am painting life.”

Coy primarily works in oil paints on wood panels and loves the thick, impasto textures. Sometimes he will experiment with additional mixed media, usually replacing a historical material with a contemporary substitute, such as replacing gold leaf with the iridescent metallic film of DVDs and CDRs by harvesting it free from the plastic disks with an Exacto knife and gluing it in place with a clear gel medium.

Lothrop has always created and has many influences. He recalls, “As a child, I was a maker. I loved the library where I would pick up nature books and spend hours drawing the wildlife. I think it’s just in my DNA. My mother is a poet and a watercolorist. My aunt, her sister, is a naturalistic oil painter and ceramicist working in functional porcelain. I decided to pursue art as a career when I met a family friend named Darel Hutchison. When he visited, he would bring with him a stack of the most beautiful and interesting figurative drawings of people and their environments. They were realistically rendered in graphite and I could not get enough. I desire to make, and I can’t think of any better job than to initiate things and teach others to make things like Darel did for me. Art, most importantly, has brought into my life the opportunity to meet and make friends, learn from and be inspired by numerous artistic and creative people throughout my life. It is people like Darel Hutchison and Larry Kitchen who have invested in me, and it is every student I have the honor to work with and invest myself in. They made me the artist I’ve become.”

Coy explains, “An education in fine art can have a certain stigma with parents, and some young, emerging talents can find themselves without the support of their family. It means a long road ahead for the student, one rife with self-doubt and hardship as they try to make their way without solid advice, encouragement, and financial support. Fortunately, art faculty at most institutions are fantastic mentors to students working their way through an art program. Once you have your body of work, a hard-fought series of art pieces based on years of study and exploration, it has intrinsic value,” adding, “Art, like life, is a struggle. It can be difficult to find your voice. It is hard to find an appreciation for the voice you discover. Making art can be discouraging. We all have a self-critic threatening our confidence. It is hard to manifest a creative thought into the physical world the way you envision.”



June 21st-22nd: The 7th Annual Junebug Summer Fair

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Mark your calendars for  June 21st, 22nd and 23rd when the 7th annual Junebug Summer Fair kicks into high gear. The family-friendly festival, which is located in the tiny art enclave of Ben Wheeler, Texas, highlights the work of artists, musicians,  and artisans from the Lone Star state. The festival will be held Friday, June 21st (7-10pm, VIP ticket holders), Saturday June 22nd (10am-12 midnight), and Sunday, June 23rd (10am-3pm).

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. Here are just a few of the fun events planned for the day:

Long Table Dinner

Kicking off the Junebug Summer Fair Friday night, June 21st from 7-10pm, The Forge will be hosting an intimate Long Table Dinner in the Grist Mill, serving local ingredients paired with local wines. The menu will show where each ingredient came from. You will also get a VIP preview of the art show and live music.

Farmers Market

The Forge will be hosting a Farmers Market both days of the festival to promote local farms and cottage businesses. There will also be a space reserved for vendors who sell goods and services based on health and wellness including Thai Yoga massage, handmade lotions and soaps, and other wellness-based businesses. This will be held Saturday June 22nd (10am-4pm), and Sunday, June 23rd (10am-3pm).

Live Music

Live acoustic music will run both days throughout the grounds, with a larger concert set for Saturday evening with Porters Bluff headlining. Bands on the Grist Mill stage start at 7pm Friday and Saturday.

Live Hands-on Art Demos

Live art stations will be set up where artists will show how they perform their particular craft. Last year, there was a live community loom where adults and children alike had the opportunity to add to the large woven piece. There was also a pottery wheel with artisans helping teach how to throw pottery and make simple pieces. The festival will also have weaving stations along with artist demonstrations.

Health And Wellness

There will be an area for health and wellness with Thai Yoga massage, organic soaps, handmade clothes, and other wonderful products and services with wellness in mind.

You may simply want to wander around the beautifully manicured herb gardens and grounds of the Forge, or grab a cone of homemade ice cream or an adult beverage from the Forge’s bar and settle into one of the many park benches and tables to listen to local musicians as they play their original songs.

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Tyler Museum of Art: “Texas Birds” and “Floating Life: Mississippi River”


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

The Tyler Museum of Art ushers in the summer season with a visual celebration of the avian species that fly the skies over the Lone Star State in the new exhibition “Texas Birds: Works by Frank X. Tolbert 2.” The show continues through August 4th in the TMA’s Bell Gallery. Admission is free.

Organized by the TMA and curated by Caleb Bell, “Texas Birds” spotlights works from Tolbert’s ongoing Texas Bird Project – including a recently finished piece that never has been seen by the public. Started in 2014, this body of work includes drawings, paintings, and prints that highlight a wide variety of the bird species that inhabit the state. The series largely was inspired by early childhood experiences with the Lone Star State’s vast array of flora and fauna on trips the artist took with his father, Frank X. Tolbert Sr., as the elder Tolbert was writing his column “Tolbert’s Texas” for the “Dallas Morning News.” Work on the Texas Bird Project began when the artist was commissioned by Austin’s Flatbed Press & Gallery to create eight bird etchings. After the initial exhibition at Flatbed, Tolbert said he decided to continue the project indefinitely.

“Texas Birds” marks the first time works from the Texas Bird Project have been organized into a major museum exhibition. Tolbert’s work has been widely exhibited and is featured in numerous public collections, including the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He and his wife, artist Ann Stautberg, live and work in Houston.

Support for “Texas Birds” is provided by Collectors’ Circle-Gold Sponsors June and Steve Hillis, and Myrtis D. Smith.

TMA Plots New Course with “Floating Life: Mississippi River Drawings by Liz Ward,” Through August 25th

The Tyler Museum of Art explores the mystique of the South as seen through the eyes of a Texas talent with its next major exhibition, “Floating Life: Mississippi River Drawings by Liz Ward.” The show continues through August 25th in the TMA’s North Gallery.

Organized by the TMA and curated by Caleb Bell, “Floating Life” is the first large-scale museum exhibition of Mississippi River works by Ward, a San Antonio artist and professor of art and art history at Trinity University, whose work largely is informed by natural history and the environmental crisis.

The exhibition spotlights pieces from two recent bodies of work: “Ghosts of the Old Mississippi” and “Veritas Caput.” The works from “Ghosts of the Old Mississippi” are based on geological maps of the river’s ancient courses and inspired by the artist’s childhood memories from South Louisiana, where her great-grandfather spent a career as a riverboat captain. 

Pieces from “Veritas Caput” focus on the search for the source of the river by various explorers.

Ward’s work has been widely exhibited and is featured in numerous public collections, including the Tyler Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Support for “Floating Life” is provided by Collectors’ Circle-Gold Sponsors Betty and Dick Summers.

Summer Lecture Series Programs

TMA’s 2019 Summer Lecture Series will be held in the Museum’s Education Gallery. A small reception will follow each lecture. Admission is free, but seating is limited. To RSVP, call (903)595-1001.

  • “Divide and Conquer: An Overview of the Mississippi River’s Role in the Civil War” by Dr. James Newsom, Senior Lecturer in Political Science and History, The University of Texas at Tyler will be held at 2:30pm, Sunday, June 23rd
  • “I Knew Mark Twain” by Dr. Jim Richey, Professor and Department Chair of English, Tyler Junior College at 2:30pm on Sunday, July 21st

Special Events

Special events in connection with current exhibitions include a free First Friday tour June 7th, July 5th and August 2nd.

The first Friday of each month, 11am-12:30pm, the TMA offers a full day of free admission plus guided tours of its spotlight exhibitions.

Family Days will be from 2-4pm Saturday, June 8th, July 13th and August 10th.

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

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Bright Stars, Birds, & Beasts: Art on View This Summer

By Derrick White

Well, the heat has arrived. I’m sure you and yours need free, fun activities which will be stimulating to the senses and inside air-conditioned buildings, so check out these venues around town showcasing wonderful visual art.

Gallery Main Street, located in Downtown Tyler at 110 W. Erwin St., kicked off the summer by displaying the Caldwell Arts Academy Exhibit. The exhibition (which closed May 21st) featured 46 artworks by 42 different artists from Caldwell Arts Academy ranging from first through sixth grade. This was a great opportunity for these young artists to have their creations exhibited at a professional level in a real contemporary art space. The pieces were strong and showcased these youthful bright Caldwell Stars.

Gallery Main Street has been celebrating serving our community for the last 10 years with the “110@110” Art Exhibition and Fundraising Art Sale. 110 (10” x 10”) art pieces created by a select group of local artists will be available for affordable purchase at the grand opening on June 8th at 6pm. This runs through July 7th.

While you are Downtown, stop by ArtFix Cultured Studios around the corner at 112 S. Broadway Ave., where among the full walls of a variety of works by 13 gallery artists (including local talents Nyle Reams, Darby Blaise, and Cassie Bartley) you will find weekly workshops, classes, and events, now including a new recording studio booth in an old bank vault.

The Tyler Museum of Art exhibits “Texas Birds: Works by Frank X. Tolbert II” through August 4th containing artwork by the well-known Texas contemporary artist created for his ongoing Texas Bird Project. The exhibition contains drawings, paintings, and prints highlighting a variety of Texas bird species. The artist shows a range of his works and thought processes, from small-scale to large-scale, with colorful blasts, textured surfaces, exaggerated forms, complex compositions, and expressive lines.

Also on view is “Floating Life: Mississippi River Drawings by Liz Ward” through August 25th. This solo show by the artist and art professor at Trinity University in San Antonio spotlights pieces from two bodies of work – “Ghosts of the Old Mississippi” and “Veritas Caput” based on geological maps, river courses and sources, and childhood memories. 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.

On view in the Meadows Gallery at the University of Texas at Tyler’s Cowan Center,located at 3900 University Blvd, Tyler, is the 2019 “Juried Student Exhibition.” The show is on display through August 9th and is free and open to the public Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.

This year’s juror is Kate Borcherding (Sam Houston State University art professor and mixed media artist focusing on psychological narratives with the human figure). Her selections are impressive and engaging. The professional skill level, appeal, and powerful content coming from these emerging Texas contemporary artists is remarkable and speaks volumes about our East Texas art scene. We have powerful artistic voices here.

Some of the excellent eye catchers included in the exhibition are Laminda Miller’s “New Life” (aluminum and epoxy clay), a small and powerful sculpture of a dead mouse hanging on the wall. The piece speaks to the fragility of life and the meekness of the small, and its form casts some incredible shadows.

Jessica Sanders’ “Fold, Cover, Fold” (porcelain, stoneware and wire) is a colorful, quilted tapestry of tiny, individual, geometric ceramic tiles sewn together with copper wire. The result is an intricate colorful blend of patterns where rigid, hard forms become billowy with fabric-like pleats.

Stephanie Nickel has an interesting triptych of old, rustic typewriters (ink and acrylic on paper) entitled “Shift from the ‘Story’ Series.” The images are faded and fleeting, and speak to the seasons of life and passage of time.

Brittany Taylor has a showstopper with her small painting “Stroller” (acrylic on panel). This one draws the viewer in close to examine the exquisite detail. It provides one with the sense of happening upon a hole in the wall of time and space and getting to peek through to another world, similar in appearance but eerily unlike our own.

The exhibit also features strong porcelain works from Willow Lanchester; well-crafted and intimate relief and monoprint works from Maggie Pierce and Kelly Waller; a mixed media video installation (and perhaps the funniest title in the show) from Nora Schreiber, “Am I Turning Myself Into a House Plant;” quality, large-scale paintings by Lilah Shepherd, John Miranda, and Erick Rodriguez; a beautiful charcoal drawing by Lorianne Hubbard; and a bright and colorful organic form watercolor, monoprint, and collage piece by Katherine Finch. I enjoyed Jack Delaney’s (oil on canvas) painting “Paradise Suite, wherein a couple greet each other with a kiss inside an implied linear perspective interior, oblivious to both the fiery sky outside and the wildcats and other critters clustered around the home. The piece is technically proficient while maintaining a head-scratching woolly juxtaposition leaving one guessing. Leon Campbell has a solid piece in “Tetris Line Pattern, a linocut on marbled paper creating a disorienting optic effect of layers with geometric line work atop fluid, unforced, subtle colors.

Two of the works visually hitting me the hardest, with a “creepy in a good way” sense of wonder, are “A Bone to Pick” by Joshua Crockett and “Unwanted/Prized” by Katie Dawn Dukes. Crockett’s work is a meticulously sculpted tooth made from 2,399 toothpicks. The tooth is textured, weathered, and brown like it’s been pulled from an old, craggy smoker. Crockett committed to forming this piece the hard way, and all the nuances of surface really paid off.

And then there’s Katie Dukes’ equestrian-esque fetus beast distorted by the clear liquid inside its specimen jar (oven clay, aluminum, glass, and water). This work is beautifully crafted and hauntingly indistinct. It stands in both worlds, of being either some believable fantasy or a freakish reality. Regardless, it is a job well done.

The exhibition also showcases quality pieces from Lidia Alvidrez, Rachel Lynn Anthony, Megan Brewer, Brady Collings, Coy Lothrop, Mike Ohara, Mary Ann Post, Jamin Shepherd, and Jacque Yost.

I wish I had room to discuss them all, but I don’t so you will have to go see the art yourselves. Summer is a great to do and as usual, art is a part of East Texas.  So be sure to see as much as you can while you are out seeking any cool air conditioning.

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