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Defining an East Texas Spirit: James R. Pace

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Inside the Artist’s Studio:

James R. Pace

Defining an East Texas Spirit

By Derrick White

“An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

There are so many creative and talented artists in East Texas. I’m excited to see this genre of talent grow within our community; in terms of venues, pop-up shows, support and opportunities. There are many moving parts to our expanding East Texas visual arts scene including the Tyler Museum of Art, Downtown’s Gallery Main Street, Tyler Junior College, the University of Texas at Tyler, as well as local encouraging businesses like Strada Café, El Guapo Records, True Vine Brewing Company, and many more. However, there is one East Texan who is not just an artist but rather the bedrock institution of artistic voice coming from Tyler. I first encountered the work of James Robert Pace around 1991 while I was attending the University of North Texas. His painting, “Lunatic Celebration,” was exhibited in a group show in the fine arts gallery. It stopped me dead in my tracks. It was amazing. The work visually achieved everything I aspired to be as an artist. I wrote a report about the painting and I did multiple renditions of the composition in my sketchbook.

In later years, I curated an exhibition including the work of James Pace at the Art Corridor Gallery at Tarrant County Community College – Arlington. Today, I am privileged to call James Pace a colleague and a trusted friend. Pace’s work has evolved, experimented and changed over the years but it never fails to bring me to an ‘aha moment.’ His work immediately makes me realize, that the piece it is exactly how art should be; formed, composed, and constructed. James Pace’s influence on area artists would be hard to underestimate. Another artist friend and colleague, Paul Jones, worked with James Pace at UT Tyler while getting his undergraduate degree. The influence Pace carried through to Jones’ work was evident in his paintings long after the partnership ended.

Take Jones for example: when you see James’ work, it is precisely what you want your own art to look like. James Pace has shaped and invigorated many devotees.

James Pace is a Distinguished Professor of Visual Art at The University of Texas at Tyler where he has taught since 1985. He holds an MFA degree from Arizona State University and a BFA from the University of Oklahoma. Pace was appointed to the Oge’ Professorship in Visual Art, the White Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching, and received the Chancellor’s Council Teaching Award. He has exhibited his work nationally and internationally since 1976 and has received numerous awards for his paintings, drawings, prints, and mixed media work. He maintains an active studio practice in the forest of East Texas, where he lives with his artist wife, Philana Oliphant, poet daughter Aza Rene’ Pace, and an ever changing number of rescued dogs.

“Like most people who practice art making, I’ve done so for as long as I can remember. I’m sure most people find some kind of early support through family and friends, and thereby experience some type of self-actualization. I did, still do,” states the artist. Adding, “I grew up around university professors: historians, biologists, musicians, writers, and I was fortunate to have had intimate access to their lives. I witnessed their discipline, their fascination with their subject and it was inseparable from their daily lives. They chased curiosity. Seeing the lifestyle they practiced, I had an early sense I would combine my interest in art with a university life. It was all I ever considered doing.”

James Pace attended the University of Oklahoma School of Art, which during his matriculation he found to be a forward thinking, supremely funky, very diverse place. James remembers, “These people were freaks about making. It’s all we did, it’s all we talked about, and it’s all we spent what little money we had on.” Pursuing his MFA at Arizona State. Pace recalls loving the desert. “A friend and I spent many, many hours and days exploring the entire state. The environment had an indelible affect on both my work and my outlook. I came to believe in the importance of finding concepts through experience, getting lost, and with the help of others, finding my way back. The worst things can make the best things possible. This still happens to me today,” affirms the artist.

“Trained in printmaking, painting, and drawing, I always thought those were my media interests. But, one day, while working on a large canvas on the floor of my studio, I inadvertently dropped a piece of paper on the painting. The experience brought a flood of memory of long forgotten understanding. I knew mixed media was my way of finding a full voice of aesthetic consideration,” states Pace.
He concludes, “For the past 30 years it has been my greatest gift to work with Philana Oliphant. Her grace has been a wonder for me. You can see it in how she works, and in the results of those efforts. She is prolific, she is connected to the biggest ideas of connectedness, but mostly she has been a kind and loving partner. We have raised a daughter, who has taken the baton and continued to run faster than I could ever conceive. A recent MFA in poetry, now a Ph.D. candidate in creative writing, Aza to this very day has taught me more than I can express.”

“I believe, as artists, we are conduits to the zeitgeist. And frankly, this is our charge. If the culture permits us to do this, we should open up and let it out. Otherwise, we fail culture and ourselves,” declares James. Dedicated to the visual art spirit of East Texas and to seeing it prosper and grow as well as garner the statewide and national attention it deserves, he states, “Over the past several months, Philana and I have doubled the size of our shared studio. We are so very fortunate to have such a place to work. We realize we want to use this new studio for more than just ourselves. We hope this place may become a place for our community of artists and thinkers to congregate. We hope to facilitate a more cohesive, yet diverse arts community. This isn’t about our success, but helping in whatever ways we can, the next generation of artists.”

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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

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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

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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