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Inside the Artist’s Studio: The Healing Hands of Art


Inside the Artist’s Studio: The Healing Hands of Art

“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso.

This quote from famed artist, Pablo Picasso, alludes to the intrinsic value of art. Tyler Junior College (TJC) is embracing in the idea, with a new rotating art exhibit,“The Beauty of Art and Medicine.” With the belief that art has a direct connection to health, TJC invites guests to enjoy the talents of local East Texas artists, displayed on the Vernon & Amy Faulconer floor of the Robert M. Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Building on the TJC main campus. From recent studies, art used as medicine can increase positive emotions, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve positive identity and medical outcomes.

“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.” – John Lubbock.

Artworks featured in the exhibition show a variety of approaches and help introduce some local artists to the spotlight. The exhibition is in collaboration with the Tyler Museum of Art, and has been thoughtfully installed by Derek Frazier. Selections in this inaugural exhibit include David Ackerson’s colorful blast acrylic painting “Post Tenebrus Lux,” Heather Crane’s collage titled “Old School,” and a mother-daughter collaborative named “Wisdom + Dreams,” by Cathy Krafve and Anna Krafve Pierce. The diptych (two panels) acrylic painting depicts the organic, half shapes of a flower and a butterfly resounding the connection between the subjects through the use of positive and negative space. Other works include Gaylon Dingler’s spontaneous, visually tactile, paper-mâché and acrylic, relief  sculptures “Moon Water” and “Red Hot.” The remaining artists showcased are: Dana W. Adams, Mike Bayham, Don Bristow, Doug Carter, Terry Fowler, Philipp Fürhofer, Kyle Ischy, Brian Stone, Ellie Taylor, Elaine Vorster, David Wallace, and Derrick White.

Pieces in the exhibition are available for purchase through collaboration with Valerosa Designs and Gallery.

Come take a stroll through this beautiful building and enrich your eyes and soul through your experience with the art while it is on display. “The arts empower. The arts help transform communities and, as I often say, the result can be a better child, a better town, a better nation and certainly a better world. Let’s champion our arts action heroes, emulate them and make our communities everything we want them to be,” states Robert L. Lynch, President, Americans for the Arts.

I believe there are also health benefits to collecting and living with handcrafted, unique art and not with mass produced, machine milled decorations from corporate, big box craft stores. When surrounding oneself with original art, it ultimately improves the quality of life. Owning original art can make you happy and give you positive feelings, as well as satisfaction in having something matchless and singular of which no other duplicate exist anywhere else in the entire world. Art can enhance the space in which it is displayed and make for a more aesthetic environment. The art you collect and display can be a healthy expression of your own individuality. Art reduces stress by increasing relaxation, gratification, and tranquility. I get fulfillment from visiting friends and collectors and seeing my art hanging on their walls and knowing my creations found a good home. Collectors often point out elements in the composition they have discovered, from years of living with the artwork, which I never intended. Art offers opportunities for social interaction reducing isolation and makes community spaces more aesthetic and interactive. Art is a great conversation piece. Buying local art helps the members of your own community.

I know that the art we have in our home is some of the most important objects we have for poignant, sentimental, and artistic reasons. My family and I are surrounded daily by art which feeds creativity, invokes fond memories, and constantly surprises us and there is no other home in the world with the same or even a similar interior look. A few selections of our growing art collection include a Randy Brodnax ceramic pot created in his signature style and beautifully formed and glazed. Brodnax was the community college art professor who changed my life. I found inspiration in his art appreciation class and decided to pursue a career in art. He was the first adult I met who loved what he did for a living and my goal became to mimic his way of life. We have several ceramic vases, mugs, and platters from Jake Allee, a friend, former colleague, and amazingly prolific creator. A colorful and exquisite painting by Barbara Holland complements our living room. I first met Barbara in 1992 when she and I both received awards at an exhibition. She placed second and I got third. Years later, while applying for a teaching position at TJC, I learned they hired Barbara Holland instead of me. Good choice but I thought “who is this short, British woman who keeps beating me at everything?” Things worked out and I landed the job a year later and fortunately had the pleasure of working with Barbara for eight years before she retired. Other artists in our collection are Mason Buchanan, Sean Cagle, Brianna Clark, Amber Draschil, Justin Edwards, Christie Funk, Dave Funk, Charles and John Hancock, Daniel Hays, Paul Jones, Cacy Legnion, Philana Oliphant, Jim Pace, Heather Rey, Chris Stewart, Josh Tamez, Kelsey White, and Gregory Zeorlin with recent acquisitions by Willow Lanchester and Erick Rodriguez. Each and every one of these artists’ creations means something significant. Their art enhances our life, makes us think, appreciate and feel a stronger connection to the human condition. Having these art pieces and these people in my life adds to my health, mental wellness and warms my heart. Oh, I almost forgot, we also have the largest collection of original Derrick White paintings in the entire world.

Don’t hesitate to stop by the gallery at 108 E. Eighth Street, Tyler, Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm, and Saturdays 10am-3pm.

For more information call Valerosa Gallery at (903)504-5249 or email,

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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

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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

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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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