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Inside the Artist’s Studio: Cora Rountree


Tattoo You

By Derrick White

Start Me Up – When I asked local artist, Cora Rountree what started her on the path to becoming an artist she answered, “Art is the only thing I was ever good at or made sense to me. I was always coloring, crafting, or making the best school project possible when I was a kid.”

I first met Cora more than ten years ago in the art department at Tyler Junior College. Her unique talents, work ethic, and quirky personality stood out, and she was soon selected as one of the performance grant students. Performance grant students are given a modest scholarship and charged with exhibiting their artwork. A student showcase allows artists exposure as well as the experience of creating exhibition-ready work. Students display their art at a professional level and are integral in curating and installing the show.

“After receiving the performance grant and learning I could, in fact, be an artist made me switch to an art major,” remembers Cora.

Hang Fire – After TJC, Cora transferred to The Art Institute of Atlanta and received a B.F.A degree in Illustration and Graphic Design. “There was a lot of trial and error trying to figure out how to make money with art but still have creative freedom. I tried working professionally as a graphic designer for a while. I made things from wedding invitations to billboards to cycling apparel, but I was losing my creativity. When I made the move back to East Texas to be near family, I decided to make a career change, a big one,” Cora states.

Slave – It turns out Cora needed to find the right medium and tools for her creative expression, one she could passionately be a slave to, and it continues to hold her interest. The artist affirms, “I kept doing magazine ads for a company in Denver. I began teaching painting at Pinot’s Palette while I apprenticed to become a tattoo artist. I was spending all of my time looking at tattoos, drawing tattoos, and spending all of my money on tattoos, so it made sense to me. I now, on a daily basis, sell my artwork. Before I became a tattoo artist, I would sell a painting every now and then. Now, for the last three years I work by appointment only, people send me ideas, and I create something special just for them. Tattooing is definitely the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. It’s permanent, no erasing. Your canvas moves, complains, and bleeds. Your machine vibrates, the needle vibrates, and your back hurts. There are so many factors, but the fact people daily ask for me to put my artwork on them forever amazes me. Paintings can be damaged in fire, floods, tornados, or stolen by a roommate. A tattoo is with the person until they die, or lose a limb.”

Neighbors – Cora lives on a small farm in the woods outside of Tyler with her many animal neighbors currently consisting of four dogs, two donkeys, two turtles, a tortoise, and some fish. She spends most of her time at Red Rooster Tattoo (1214 E. Marshall Ave., Longview) with a very talented group of artists, including her mentor who taught her the art of tattooing, Tyler Weisenberger. She laughs, “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to give people forever art. He actually introduced me to my boyfriend, his brother.”

Worried About You – Every career and situation comes with its own set of frustrations. Before, for Cora, it was not being able to make enough money from doing something she loved. “In my current job the most frustrating part is putting your heart into something, and then it’s not what the client has in mind. No worries. We will continue to work together and find a happy medium.

Tops – “We at Red Rooster Tattoo want to give people the best tattoo possible. Each of us has our own unique style, and we place people with the best artist for the tattoo they want, states Cora. You can check out Red Rooster on Facebook or Instagram at Red Rooster Tattoo.

Heaven – Cora’s favorite artist is Sandi Calistro (Denver based painter and tattoo artist). “When I lived in Atlanta, I went to an art show and saw one of her paintings of a circus lady holding a monkey, very stylized with large eyes but still perfect. She even drew little tattoos all over the lady. I can still see it perfectly years later. I looked her up on the internet and realized she was a tattoo artist as well and living in Denver. I was already planning on moving to Denver so when I realized that’s where she lived, I immediately booked an appointment with her. I began going to get tattooed by her every few months for a few years. I still get tattooed by her actually. It was she and her co-worker that asked if I had ever considered being a tattoo artist. At the time I was making good money doing graphic design and thought I was set in my career and too old to make the change. She’s truly talented, and the way she does things are heavenly unmatchable,” exclaims Cora.

Waiting On A Friend – When asked about some of the most important things art brings to her life Cora replies, “People and happiness. Some of my best friends and most important people in my life I met somehow through art, whether from school, in a class, at a show, at a job. Art brings people into my life. Art brings happiness into my life as well. When I worked the corporate design jobs, I was overworked. I never did anything fun or creative for myself. I was losing who I was. I was becoming stagnant. Now working in a creative environment where everyone I work with is inventive, it keeps my creative juices flowing, and they push me to create which makes me happy. Making art is a release, a therapy in a sense. An artist could go crazy not being able to create.

Keep up with Cora’s art, tattoos, and/or animal shenanigans on Instagram at @lovecoratattoos.




Call for Entries: Art of Peace Tyler Visual Art Exhibit

Entries are now being accepted for the “Sowing Seeds of Peace” Visual Art Exhibit as part of the Art of Peace – Tyler celebration, a citywide commemoration of the United Nations International Day of Peace, September 21st.

“Art of Peace – Tyler is happy to once again to partner with the Tyler Museum of Art to invite regional artists to offer their creative responses to the idea of peace and to our 2018 theme, ‘Sowing Seeds of Peace’,” said Anne McCrady, co-founder and co-director of the peace event.

The visual art show will be presented as a juried exhibit in the museum’s education classroom September 16th-23rd, at the Tyler Museum of Art, 1300 S. Mahon Ave, on the Tyler Junior College main campus. The exhibit will be open to the public and admission is free.

The jury for selection will consist of members of the Art of Peace – Tyler committee and TMA representatives. The jury has the option to select up to two works per artist for inclusion in the show. Past exhibits have included the work of artists from Austin, Dallas, Lubbock and the East Texas area.

“We are privileged that the Art of Peace – Tyler committee once again has asked us to be the host venue for this exhibition,” TMA Executive Director Chris Leahy said. “The work we have seen over the past four years of our partnership has grown increasingly more dynamic and accomplished, and we are proud to have the opportunity to participate in such a great community event.”  

For more information about Art of Peace – Tyler events, visit For questions about the art exhibition, e-mail

Sunday, September 23rd, there will be an Artist reception at 3pm.

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David Bates: Works from Texas Collections on Exhibit


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. The Museum is supported by its members, Tyler Junior College, and the City of Tyler. For more info call the museum at (903)595-1001,, or email

David Bates, one of the most acclaimed artists in Dallas, is the focus of Tyler Museum of Art’s summer exhibition, “David Bates: Selected Works from Texas Collections” on view through September 9th.

Curated by the museum’s Caleb Bell, the exhibition features close to 30 works surveying the prolific career of Bates, one of the most versatile and widely collected contemporary Texas artists. Spanning art from 1982 to 2016 works in the show highlight several of Bates’ most celebrated series and include a wide array of media: oil painting, lithographs, woodcuts, screenprints and bronze sculpture. The show was assembled from art in public and private collections throughout the state, including the museum’s own permanent collection. Bates’ work is widely exhibited and included in several museum and corporate art collections.

Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors. Museum members, students, TJC faculty/staff and city of Tyler employees are admitted free. Support for exhibit is provided by The Byars Foundation.

Family Days

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. This popular program focuses on fostering a deeper understanding of the Museum’s spotlight exhibitions – and, above all, having fun! To RSVP for groups of 10 or more, please call (903)595-1001 or e-mail

First Friday

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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Around East Texas

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Dedicated Young Warriors

The Art and Illustrations of Micah Lewis

By Derrick White

“I continually push myself to try a new medium or style, or just simply work harder with what I’ve got. I’ve grown to love studies in my sketchbooks and understand the importance of slowing down for a bit and working out the kinks or just wrapping my mind around how to draw something,” states local artist Micah Lewis. In my career as an art professor at TJC, I work with many students who aspire to become professional artists. After decades of instructing, I have found the most important qualities in making the dream of living as a professional artist come true are dedication and perseverance. Those who are truly dedicated to their art and process will succeed and they persist through all setbacks.

Micah Lewis is one such devoted artist living and working from the red brick streets in downtown Tyler. My first introduction to Micah was through a Facebook page coordinating Free Art Fridays encouraging participants to place or seek hidden art in downtown Tyler and beyond. We have connected through social media, and I have had the pleasure of meeting her in real life at local establishments. Through her posts and comments one can conclude she is a fun, determined, dedicated, persistent and successful artist. In addition to being a professional artist, Micah is also a committed wife and mother. Her web site describes Micah as, “a self-taught artist who finds beauty in all of God’s creation, particularly in people… and coffee. Having a heart for creativity from a young age, she draws inspiration from tattoo art, comic books, or old Godzilla movies. Additionally, she has a peculiar knack for portraits where she can capture the natural emotion present in each subject.”

My formal training was limited to half a semester of art during my sophomore year of high school. Somehow, I ended up in a class full of students just attempting to fill a credit. It was a disruptive environment in which the other students regularly sabotaged my projects. So, my path has been one of self-learning with trial and error,” says Lewis. Micah’s art is influenced by comic book art and executed through her unique surrealist lens. She considers her style of art lowbrow and also enjoys painting watercolor portraits. She states, “Four years ago, if someone told me I would love watercolor and use it almost daily, I would not have believed it. I used to loathe watercolor. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of control. It just wasn’t as smooth as I like. When I revisited the concept after a few years I fell in love. I really and truly enjoy creating with watercolor. In achieving a variety of line weights, I use a Pentel pocket brush pen (typically used for calligraphy). I love the contrast inking gives my pieces. It pulls the soft washes together with bolder, inconsistent lines.”

Like many artists, Micah can trace her inspiration back to childhood. “It’s difficult to pinpoint. The earliest drawings I recall were on the inside cover of the coloring books my sisters and I had. Coloring a picture felt like more of a chore to me. So, I just drew my own pictures on the blank inner covers. Sorry, Lisa Frank! When I got a bit older, I kept a sketchbook. It just became a part of who I am. It is shocking to me I became a professional artist. It still baffles me. I remember telling people I wanted to be an artist when I grew up as early as first grade, and maybe I was just too stubborn to not make it happen,” states the artist.

For Micah, dedication and perseverance in her art means growth. She explains, “I can always learn, study, and work towards improvement. Finding a voice is difficult; especially given the understanding your audience may never quite comprehend the images in your mind and the emotions accompanying those images. I think it is pretty easy to pander to your audience with the pressure for success but creating, for me, was never meant to be superficial. The intent of art is communication, and communication on a deep level of who we are and the emotions driving us as people. Art should be a connection, but not a cheap one. I still have to remind myself of this from time to time and just strive to be authentic.”

Micah Lewis finds inspiration in the work of other artists, citing one of her favorites is Berlinde de Bruyckere (a Belgian contemporary artist sculpting unsettling forms in various media including wax, wood, wool, horse skin and hair. She also works in watercolor). “I hope one day I have the opportunity to meet her or just experience one of her installations in person. Her ability to sculpt with wax, wood, and natural fibers is pure wizardry and you’ll never convince me otherwise. I have a copy of her book, “In the Woods There Were Chainsaws.” The pages are yellowed and warped and the spine has a gash in it, but it’s only because I’ve loved it so dang much. I draw so much inspiration from her dedication to detail,” exclaims Lewis.

Micah’s life and art career are very busy with multiple upcoming projects. “This summer, I will be working on a few murals around Tyler, one for Strada Caffè and I am also working on a few murals at True Vine Brewing Company in their new location (2453 Earl Campbell Pkwy) and later this year, I’m excited to curate my first show for The Foundry Coffee House in downtown Tyler. Submissions will start in November and the show will open in January. I’m excited to meet new artists and take on this new role. Interested artists should follow the Foundry Coffee House’s Facebook page for more information as it becomes available. Locally, you can find Micah’s original artworks and prints available for purchase at El Guapo Records, Strada Caffè, The Foundry, and Moss just to name a few local love friendly places.

You can follow the art, projects and progress of Micah Lewis at:

Commission or collaboration requests can be filled out via the contact form on Micah Lewis’ web site. I recommend you commit yourself to looking through and purchasing some of these dedicated young warrior’s creations for your very own.


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