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Inside the Artist’s Studio: Dana Cargile

dana6 copyBy A. C. Slaughter

Alright ladies hike up your skirts and show some ankle ‘cause this month’s artist is all femme! A southern belle who paints like a lady, markets herself like a pro and smiles all the way to the bank. Red headed and full of sweetness, Ms. Dana Cargile is making moves and making history right here in lil’ ol’ Tyler, Texas.

Dana and her family moved here five years ago from Jackson, Mississippi and she dove right in. Helping to grow the art scene in East Texas, Dana has been on the board of the Heart of Tyler for five years. She immediately started showing with Gallery Main Street when they first opened and since then has shown at 8th Street Boutique, Larry Lotts Interiors, Regions Bank downtown, Gold Leaf Gallery, Salon Verve, and has participated in the downtown ArtWalk every year it has been put on. For the last six years she and her dear friend, Cherie, share a booth at a show called “Handworks” in Jackson, Mississippi where they have built quite a following. This past holiday season Dana participated in Mistletoe and Magic, one of Tyler’s best known holiday extravaganzas. Dana says she intends to do the show again this year. “It’s a labor of love,” she says about her painting. Doing all these shows takes time. “When do you have time to paint?” I ask, and Dana laughs. “I am out here [in her studio] all day Tuesday and Thursday and Monday, Wednesday, Friday afternoons.” With three boys and a husband it is amazing that she is able to do what she does. “Sometimes I forget to do the wash,” she says but I think that is a small sacrifice for such a successful body of work.

So let’s talk about the work …..

dana7 copyDana’s loose, fun, child-like style has roots in realism. Her bright colors and bold brush work is a treat for your inner happy place. You can see her background in realism in her genre pieces. “I started painting when I was little. My grandmother always painted.” Much like many artists, Dana’s parents did not encourage her painting. They wanted her to pursue a career in business or something that she could support herself with. So Dana got her degree in fashion merchandising. It was a compromise between business and art. Not ever really doing anything with her degree and having a strong desire to do what she pleased regardless of who or who didn’t support her, Dana continued to paint for her own sake.

Twelve years ago she and her family moved to Jackson, Mississippi where, for the first time, Dana found her support. She joined an art guild. Hosted by some of the elders in town, she met Cherie, who sits in a rocker in the corner of Dana’s studio chiming in while we do the interview. They both had children the same age and because they were younger than most of the other members, the two belles quickly became friends. “You had to be tough as nails,” Dana recalls. The group met once a week and held critiques. “You could paint whatever you wanted and sometimes we would watch videos and have a discussion. They [group members] were very helpful.” Much like a classroom environment Dana found a place where she could paint what was on her heart and then have it drug through the dirt by many discerning eyes. This builds character. If you have ever been in a critique situation, you know. It hurts when you first hear that someone doesn’t like your piece, or aspects of your piece, but you get over that soon enough and if you don’t, you quit. But when they DO like your work, you may find yourself on cloud nine for days to come.

After having been through tough critiques, Dana and Cherie felt it was time to start doing art shows, sharing booth rentals and finding their niche in the Jackson art scene. Their success was quick to come and continues to build to this day. Even distance can’t tear these two apart. In 2009 Dana and her family moved to East Texas just in time to get in on the ground floor of all the new art happenings in Tyler. Dana immediately started having success here in Tyler. She started receiving commissions from shows, then shows from commissions. People see her work, like her style and ask her to paint something for them. Starting out in realism Dana painted, “A lot of landscapes. The more you paint the more your style changes. My style kept getting looser and looser.” Then Dana took a portrait class. “Once you can do people you can do animals. People love cows and pigs here in Tyler!” In addition to Dana’s local success she has been asked to paint images for a website that sells images to churches for church bulletins. Additionally, she was asked to paint the poster image for the 26th annual Festival on the Square and she has also illustrated a children’s book titled “Pet Fairy” written by Christie Joy.

dana1All of Dana’s success can be directly attributed to hard work and a good attitude. People love to buy art from people they love and Dana is a lovable Southern gal. Did I mention her studio is called the “Doll House” and rightly named? While interviewing Dana at the “Doll House” we had tea service in porcelain tea cups served alongside dainty tea cookies. The southern charm just does not stop and neither does the femininity. There are dolls all around the studio as well as paints, brushes, rocking chairs and lots of windows bringing in all the good ol’ East Texas light. There’s even a fireplace. Dana’s studio is inviting, comfortable, eclectic and beautiful. It’s in her own backyard, separate from all her boys, a special place just for her and the gals.

Dana is what all artists aspire to be and few ever accomplish – she is a true working artist. How does one become such a thing you ask? “You learn from every painting. You keep learning, and you keep learning, no matter how old you are.”

For more info, go to Facebook.

So there you have it. To all of you who are struggling, deep in the throws of being an artist, take a lesson from an angel of wisdom and work hard, keep at it, market your work and believe in yourself. Because believing in yourself in the key. If you don’t believe in yourself no one else will and you must believe that what you are doing is unique and special and that it is the right thing to do.

There is no substitute for good mojo.

Dana’s work can be found online at “MyBackPorch” on Facebook,, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and now on Etsy. It has only been in the past five years that Dana has promoted herself online. “It works,” she says. “It’s the modern world. I had a lady in Austin who I’ve never met see a piece she liked and wanted one similar, so now I am painting one for her.”

Well that’s it for September’s issue of Inside the Artist’s Studio. Remember to send us artists that you like and would like to see featured in Inside the Artist’s Studio to

Now it’s back to my studio to work…’cause art just doesn’t come out of the blue, you have to work for it, and work hard. Stay classy East Texas and until next month, MAKE ART!


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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Art of Peace: Call for Entries

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Entries now are being accepted for the Living 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 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 2019 theme, ‘Living Peace,’” said Anne McCrady, co-founder and co-director of the peace event.

The visual art show will be presented as a juried exhibit from September 15th-22nd in the Education Classroom 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.”

Entry deadline for the visual art show is July 31st. Works in all media are eligible, provided they can be juried by digital image. These include painting, drawing, printmaking, photography/digital media, sculpture, mixed media and fine craft (wood, metal, clay, fiber, glass). Artists should e-mail digital images, descriptions of work, CV and artist information to or mail a CD with information packet to: Art of Peace – Tyler Exhibit Committee, Tyler Museum of Art, 1300 S. Mahon Ave, Tyler, TX 75701.

“Since jury selection uses images of the artwork, artists should send high-quality images that represent their pieces as accurately and professionally as possible,” Ms. McCrady said. Artists must submit images as JPEG files. Art of Peace – Tyler reserves the right to reproduce artwork images of accepted entries for promotion of the exhibition in the media.

The TMA does not allow art sales on the premises. However, given artist permission, guests will be provided with names of artists and selected contact information, McCrady said. Visitors who wish to purchase artwork may contact the artist directly regarding a sale after the close of the show.

Sunday, September 22nd, there will be an Artist Reception at 3pm with a program starting at 3:30pm.

For more information about Art of Peace – Tyler events, visit For questions about the art exhibition, e-mail or call Ms. McCrady at (903)658-5645.

The Art of Peace – Tyler will be held September 15th-22nd.

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