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Inside the Artist’s Studio: Clara Hicks and Barry Jacobs


Inside the Artist’s Studio:

And so become yourself.

Lifelong Learning: Clara Hicks and Barry Jacobs

By Derrick White

A definition of lifelong learning is to continuously expand one’s knowledge and skills from one’s life events. Fine arts is the perfect example of staying healthy – mentally, emotionally, and physically. Lifelong learning advances human development and is essential for people to be actively involved in life. TJC offers to let members of our community audit (enroll and participate without receiving college credit) many classes. Studio art classes are where many people seeking personal enrichment, find a place to belong. Residents residing inside TJC’s taxing district over the age of 65 may be eligible to audit courses tuition-free.

It is great for a creative studio environment to have students ranging from 19 to 90. These students discuss and exchange ideas, work socially, and volunteer collectively. With a range in age like this, it is always interesting to see different approaches to ideas and materials. Years ago, while on a field trip with my school class, I asked the group the time of day and only one student looked at her wristwatch. The lone student not staring at a smartphone was Clara Hicks. Clara repeated art classes at TJC for over a decade for the experiences, friendships, lifelong learning, and personal development. She first attended TJC in the late 1960’s. She had an exhibition of her art spanning over 42 years of work shown in the Jenkins Hall art department hallway gallery in March of 2009. “When I first took a painting class I did not know which end of the brush to hold,” states Clara, a Tyler resident and accomplished artist in landscape, portrait, and still-life painting as well as weaving and ceramics.

“Classes at TJC’s art department are very uplifting. I am inspired by other students who focus on their work with a positive mental attitude. The faculty has set the bar high so students may achieve both their short and long-term goals. I see controlled attention and a lot of enthusiasm,” states non-traditional art student Barry Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs has been repeating TJC art classes for several years. “With no formal experience of art education, I just took on projects. At the Electronics Machine Accounting College in Chicago in 1964, using punch card computer programming, my first piece of art was an image of President John F. Kennedy made from many x’s, o’s, and dashes. I was 21,” remembers Barry. He first took an art class at TJC in 2009 and has explored painting, drawing, design, printmaking and screen-printing, ceramics, sculpture, and art appreciation. Barry has won numerous awards for his artwork including several different place ribbons from the recent East Texas State Fair. Barry’s ceramic tile mosaic artwork was selected to be included in the 2018 Bell Tower Arts Journal of TJC student work (including paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography, poetry, and short stories). Jacobs works with acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, pastels, and graphite. He has sculpted in concrete, wood, clay, as well as fiberglass. Barry also won the art club’s 2017 Halloween costume contest with his reconstructed old cancer treatment radiation mask. Barry became interested in art from a previous job working for R.L. Polk City Directory. He recalls, “The job was to sell directories to businesses and get them to advertise. I would make sketches which included logos, pictures, business descriptions, and phone numbers.” Barry has also been practicing Tai-Chi for 15 years in order to get more cardiovascular exercise. “Over the past two years, I have also included Kung-Fu. The benefits have exceeded everything I was expecting,” says Barry. He feels taking studio art classes connects him to his family stating, “My father’s sister, Lilly, was an artist and my sister, Joyce Lynn had an art master’s degree and enjoyed creating still-lifes and portraits in oil.” Barry recommends, “Art club is a time where one can break away from routine; receive positive feedback, information about what is happening in the arts community, volunteer opportunities, competitions, and personal stories from professors on lessons in life as they experience it.” Time is almost always a frustration when it comes to the creative process. “I make mistakes when I rush to finish. I sometimes come in after class to do additional work. I also learn from defeat and self-discipline.”

Barry Jacobs works in what may be classified as a folk/fine art style. Folk art will sometimes have a freshness and naiveté in its formal composition. Folk art is generally (though not always) self-taught or accomplished with nominal instruction. The difference between fine and folk art is essentially traditional, rather than educational. Folk artists may have a variety of different styles and work in a wide range of media. The results are unique, creative, and distinctive for each individual artist.

Barry joined the Navy in 1961 and served as a machinist mate on the Destroyer USS Witek. He was not deployed to Vietnam but did serve in the Cuban Missile Crisis after the Bay of Pigs invasion. Jacobs recalls, “We were to intercept any ship carrying missiles to Cuba and we did just that and also protect the aircraft carriers if they were attacked.” After the Navy, Barry Jacobs went to computer school, worked in construction, as a floor covering contractor, and insurance salesman. Currently, away from the art studios, Barry spends his time volunteering at Christus Mother Frances Hospital making arts and crafts for oncology patients, phones potential donors at Urology Tyler, volunteers at Texans Against Crime, is a neighborhood crime watch captain, and previously conducted craft projects and patient contact for 13 years at ETMC. You can see the benefit of having an individual like this in one’s classroom and sharing their experiences and ideas with an 18-year-old kid.

Barry gets inspiration from the work of artists like Norman Rockwell (American realist painter and illustrator). Barry has battled and beaten cancer multiple times and has overcome triple bypass surgery as well as other health concerns. He states, “I am a survivor of several issues. It has to do with attitude and activities.”



Gallery Main Street hosts First Digital Exhibit


Gallery Main Street will host their first digital exhibit from May 1 to July 7. While facilities continue to be closed or with limited hours due to COVID-19, pictures and virtual tours of this exhibit will be available at Art will also be available for purchase online.

The spring exhibit is an open theme to allow local artists an opportunity to spotlight their different mediums, methods, visions and experiences.

“Art never stops,” said Main Street Director Amber Varona. “Now more than ever it is important to create innovative opportunities for artists to display and sell their art.”

This will be the first juried exhibit in the new gallery space inside the Plaza Tower. The space provides the artwork to be visible beyond the hours of the Main Street office and by patrons visiting the new first floor retail bays. The gallery serves as a valued centerpiece to the beautifully furnished atrium that serves as an inviting gathering spot.

For more information, visit or call (903) 593-6905.

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Online UT Tyler MFA and BFA Art Exhibits Now Available

The University of Texas at Tyler has announced online art exhibitions featuring the work of students who graduated this spring with Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees.

Traditionally held on campus, the exhibitions were modified for online viewing as a safeguard in response to the coronavirus. The work of four MFA and eight BFA graduates can be viewed at

“While we are heavy-hearted about the inability to celebrate our student achievements face to face, we recognize the importance of taking precautionary measures during this time,’’ said Merry Wright, professor and chair of the Department of Art and Art History. “We are pleased to announce our online exhibitions, and we are incredibly proud of the students featured. They have remained steadfast in their commitment to creating and have approached the unfolding events with the highest caliber of professionalism.’’

MFA Exhibitions

Artists featured in the MFA exhibitions include:

Jessica Sanders of Tyler makes delicate-looking ceramic sculpture. Her exhibition is titled “Attach | Manipulate | Respond.” “This body of work deals with form, space, and visual accessibility,’’ Sanders said. “The pieces are made up of small, individual ceramic pieces that are attached together with wire, making flexible ceramic sheets.”

John Miranda’s exhibition, “Pan Dulce in the Sauce,“ features sculpture and paintings inspired by his hometown of Del Rio. “My work is a visceral response to a lived reality, an abstraction of space and memory,’’ he said.” Inanimate entities become communities within space as I try to find a balance between cultural history and personal experiences.”

Laminda Miller of Gladewater makes animal sculptures of epoxy clay and mixed media. Her exhibition, “Intentions,’’ features deceptively whimsical works that are allegorical representations of the social, psychological and literal constructs of identity.

Nora Schreiber of Tyler explores a curiosity of the world around her in her exhibition titled “ALL IT CAN BE IS WHAT IT WAS NAMED.” She asks her audience to step into a visual exploration of the mundane in their daily lives, with a theatrical twist.

BFA Exhibition

Artists highlighted in the BFA exhibition, titled “Nascent,’’ include

Lidia Alvidrez of Dallas – Avridrez’s work as a ceramic artist is influenced by her life experiences and dealing with a mental disorder.

Katherine Emmel of Overton – Emmel’s work is focused primarily in painting and reflects


several dystopian and emotional narratives found within everyday society.

Willow Lanchester of Tyler – Lanchester works primarily in clay and metal sculpture. Her art pieces are focused permutations of form that explore themes of concealed information.

Maggie Pierce of Tyler – Pierce uses photo-based printmaking techniques to create highly altered versions of desert landscape. Her work examines the landscape and our relationship to it as something that is mediated by various technologies.

Payton Poole of Tyler – Poole works with multimedia, three-dimensional sculptures, both interactive and wearable, that open conversations about mental illness and the stigma against it.

Grace Richardson of Troup – Richardson uses screen-printing methods to create non- objective forms that render familiarity through their interactions and emphasis on color. A vocabulary of shape and color is established through these arrangements, creating a relationship and language between form and viewer.

Justin Witherspoon of Kilgore – Witherspoon is a printmaker who works in both relief and mono-type. His current body of work is focused on contrasting hard lines and stark objects with nebulous color, inviting exploration.

Teresa Young of Marshall – Young is a sculptor whose works incorporate disposed items such as shipping material and objects from nature. The items signify abandonment and reincarnation.

For more information about the exhibitions, contact Michelle Taff, UT Tyler gallery and media coordinator, at 903-566-7237 or

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Historic Tyler Celebrates with 26th Annual Photo Contest

May is a time when thousands of individuals around the country join in a nationwide celebration of National Preservation Month, sponsored annually by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This May, Preservation Month is going virtual.  Even though many historical places are physically closed right now, we hope to excite current preservation supporters and introduce new audiences to the preservation work that makes our community special by opening a window to a world of adventure online.

The National Trust created Preservation Week in 1973 to spotlight grassroots preservation efforts in America.  Since then, it has grown into an annual celebration observed by small towns and big cities across the United States. Due to its popularity, the National Trust extended the event to the entire month of May, which was then declared Preservation Month to provide more opportunities to celebrate the diverse and unique heritage of our country’s cities and states. The hope is to introduce more Americans to the growing preservation movement.

Here at Historic Tyler, we will celebrate Preservation Month by virtually highlighting preservation efforts made here in our own beautiful Rose City, and by hosting our annual Photo Contest.  Historic Tyler’s Photo Contest has been a Preservation Month staple for over twenty-five years, and this year’s theme is Beyond Your Basic Brick. We have picked historic properties throughout the Azalea and Charnwood historic districts that feature interesting bricks, brick patterns or brick details.

To enter the photo contest, identify each photograph by its address or name and submit answers to Historic Tyler, Inc., P.O. Box 6774, Tyler, TX, 75711, send an email to or private message us on social media.  Entries must be submitted no later than end-of-day, Monday, June 21, 2020.  The entry with the highest number of correct answers will be awarded a family membership in Historic Tyler, Inc. and $50 cash.  In the event of ties, a drawing will be held to determine the winner.

To enter the photo contest, identify each photograph by its current name or address and submit answers to: Historic Tyler, Inc., P.O. Box 6774, Tyler, TX, 75711, Send an email to, or Private message us on social media.

Entries must be submitted no later than end of day, Monday, June 21, 2020. The entry with the highest number of  correct answers will be awarded a family membership in Historic Tyler, Inc. and $50 cash. In the event of ties, a drawing will be held to determine the winner.

Historic Tyler, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, was founded in 1977 with a mission “to promote the preservation and protection of historic structures and sites through advocacy, education, involvement, and private and public investment.”  It is a membership-based organization with many preservation accomplishments to its credit.  Executive Director Mrs. Washmon invites you to visit their website: for more information on the organization, which is located in the Charnwood District at 110 E. Charnwood Street.

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