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Inside the Artist’s Studio: Texas Contemporary Artists on View in East Texas

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By Derrick White

It is June in Texas and it’s hot. If you are looking for a free, fun activity which will be stimulating to the senses and inside an air conditioned building, check out some of these venues around town showcasing some wonderful visual art. Gallery Main Street located in downtown Tyler, 110 W. Erwin ST, Tyler, TX 75702, is displaying local talent Jacqueline Chubirka in a one person exhibition of 27 paintings by the artist. Chubirka: A Study of People and their Things is on view until June 4, 2018, so hurry. The paintings are realistic and masterfully executed reminiscent of Wayne Thiebaud (American painter known for depicting common objects—pies, ice cream, pastries, and figures). Chubirka lives in Tyler and received her B.F.A. degree in painting from the Academy of Art University. “This group of paintings consists of portraits juxtaposed to everyday objects. Taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the aesthetic of the working class,” says the artist in a printed statement. You will be impressed.

The Tyler Museum of Art is exhibiting Rewind: Selections from Private Collections through August 19th containing artwork borrowed from East Texas collectors. Coming up June 24th – September 9th is a solo show by renowned Texas contemporary Dallas artist, David Bates. The museum is located on the campus of TJC at 1300 S. Mahon Ave, Tyler, TX 75701 and is open Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday: 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. The museum will also host Creativity Camps this summer Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. for children ages 6 – 12 ($40 per day / $175 per week). Camps kick off with TMA World Tour June 25th – 29th incorporating visual art with music and performance. Young artists will explore art, make a musical instrument, learn a song, and perform a mini-concert at the end of the week. Other camps continue through the month of July. Contact: 903-595-1001 for registration and information.

On view in the Meadows Gallery at the University of Texas at Tyler’s Cowan Center (located at 3900 University Blvd, Tyler, TX 75701) is the 2018 Juried Student Exhibition. The show is on display through August 10th and is free and open to the public Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. This year’s juror for the show is the distinguished Texas sculptor Sherry Owens who uses crepe myrtle branches to tell stories of Texas and environmental concerns. Owens works in Dallas and received a B.F.A. from Southern Methodist University. Her selections are impressive, engaging, and mostly reflective of the juror’s natural comprehension for organic forms. 42 pieces were chosen to be exhibited. The professional skill level, appeal, and powerful content coming from these emerging Texas contemporary artists is remarkable and speaks volumes about the momentum of the East Texas art scene. We have powerful artistic voices here. Brittany Lea Taylor has two small, powerful paintings in the show Memory #4 and Memory #1 (both oil on panel). The former is a striking, black and white, representational, almost photo-realistic image of an old, abandoned vehicle buried in weeds. The composition is fragmented and energized by a few (some green) diagonal, sharp lines. The latter is a black and white, photo-realistic rural scene with a slight contoured outline of an undeveloped figure like a missing character from a Harper Lee novel. Jessica Sanders also has two works shown. Roll, Stack, Overlap and Stuff, Pull, Lay. The pieces are made of porcelain and stoneware and sewn together using copper wire. These exquisite sculptures are painstakingly assembled small, handcrafted, fired and glazed, geometrically shaped tiles. Her creations are hung on the wall and seem graceful, soft, and natural. The individual pieces transcend their uniqueness and become a complete form. I was fascinated by Leon Campbell’s print titled Circle Quadrant Intaglio a commanding minimalist composition of four divisions of a square each containing a circle shape with a large, center circle overlapping all. The image unified by frantic and expressive lines, cross-hatching and etched into the plate. Jennie Riley exhibits a nice painting titled Them, a large-scale acrylic on canvas of strange puzzle shapes creating a surreal landscape of mammoth proportions with a colorful bundle of confusion in the bottom right of the picture plane. Kate Finch’s Inconsistencies in Self-Hatred is a stunning watercolor of biological, fluid, formal interactions. It is a pleasing and enjoyable compositional ride full of movement, lines, shapes, and colors through a strong, swirling current.

Two of the showstoppers for me are the sculptures of Laminda Miller Kitsune’s Deceit and I can be who I want to be. Perfectly postured and proportioned animal forms created from Styrofoam and epoxy clay with papier-mâché, one is a wild, contorted, shapeshifting fox attached to the wall, a human mask around his neck. It is textural, dynamic, playful, and contemplative. The other is a free-standing sculpture of a large hare seated on a small wooden stool resting and removing his rabbit mask. It is visually tactile, fantastical, and immediately creates a Carrollesque narrative. These two pieces held my visual attention for a long time. Corey Reeves watercolor and ink paintings Feast of 90 Minutes and Sinister, Sentient Sausage and Succulent, Savory Snacks stood out for their vibrant, outlandish and well executed configurations reminiscent of Zapp comics, Robert Crumb, and Robert Williams. There is something intriguing about a monstrous man and a giant hot dog about to gorge on mustard drenched mini-franks.

Other stunning works included: Joanna Kathryn Gifford’s Breath large-scale installation of a tangled woven cube structure casting a web of shadows below a digital projection of a mouth in repetition veiled by deterioration, Nicole Marie’s Automeris Io a large painting of floral and organic complexities forming a dense thicket of shapes battling and bumping each other, Lorianne Hubbard’s always superb charcoal and graphite drawings, Lisa Horlander’s translucent, stained, and layered three-dimensional collages, Tiffany Gilliam’s mixed media coiled, entangled, and bundled fragments, Jeri Lynn Hubbard’s delightful exploration into paper sculpture, and Erick Rodriguez’s Still Waters, a graphite on paper drawing so immensely intricate and containing thousands of small delicate, toned lines, it truly has to be viewed in person to be accurately appreciated. Other impressive exhibiting artists include: Hannah Branscum, Chelsea Bretherick, Audrey Caton, Sam Edwards, Rebecca Fernandez with Jacqueline Yost, Keri Lane Fidone, Abigail Harrison, Kyndall Luckey, Harrison March, John Miranda, Sylvia Morse, Chelsea Oliver, Lauren Pitre, Kayla Reesor, Jamin Shepherd, Lilah Shepherd, Brandon Witschi and Jacqueline Yost.

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August 18th: A Rock ‘n Roll Summer of CESSE Fun

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Visitors of the Center for Earth & Space Science Education (CESSE) at Tyler Junior College will have a lot of fun this month.

Most shows offer tickets for $5. Tickets for All Day passes are $12 for adults and $9 for students, children, and senior citizens. Exhibit only tickets are $3. Tickets can be purchased at

CESSE is open Tuesday-Friday 9:30am-4:30pm, and Saturday 10am-4:30pm. CESSE is located on the Tyler Junior College campus at 1411 E. Lake St., Tyler.

Rock ‘n Roll Saturday

Rock ‘n Roll Saturday is fun for the entire family! Two shows will be presented. July 21st “SpacePark360” will be shown at 7pm and “Rock on Demand” at 8pm. August 18th the two shows will be shown again.

“SpacePark360” takes audiences on a wild, immersive ride through the solar system, recreating the experience of amusement park thrill rides – roller coasters, pendulums, inverters, and more. Seen from the rider’s perspective, “SpacePark360” combines full dome technology with thrill rides to create a heart-pounding experience.

“Rock on Demand” fills the entire 40-foot domed theater with vibrant graphics, completely enveloping visitors in a 360-degree view while the 16,000-watt, digital surround sound system plays rock hits ranging from the Beatles and Rolling Stones to The Doors and Aerosmith.

Tickets are $5 for each show. This is fun for the entire family!

Dome Shows

CESSE offers a variety of Dome Shows. Call for availability in the event field trips may have been scheduled. Daily show schedules are:

10am – Children’s Show

11am – “SpacePark360”

12 noon – “National Parks Adventure”

1pm – “Dream Big: Engineering Our World”

2pm – “Extreme Weather”

3pm – “Space Next”

4pm – “Moons: Worlds of Mystery”

New this month is “Extreme Weather.” Weather has always been one of the most dynamic and complex forces shaping our planet, but now it’s intensifying in varied and complex ways. “Extreme Weather” takes us to the front lines where few have gone. Among the melting tidewater glaciers of Alaska, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Dr. Erin Pettit leads a young team of researchers into the splash zone at the face of Dawes Glacier aboard a boat custom-designed to get as close as possible to the calving ice. Using a variety of instruments, her team works to measure the rate of melting to help build a more accurate model of global ocean level rise.

A FREE Star Party Saturday

June 2nd (ongoing the first Saturday of each month), you can see a Star Party in a live presentation in CESSE’s 40-foot planetarium dome. This is a unique opportunity for families to view the beautiful heavens of east Texas. Best of all, it is completely FREE!

Learn all about the stars, the planets, and the constellations as you take a tour of the night sky and travel to distant planets and beyond. There will also be a TJC astronomy professor with telescopes set up outside (weather permitting) for you to gaze at the astronomical objects with your own eyes until 10pm.

Live Sky shows will be at 8pm, 8:30pm, and 9pm. Telescope viewing will be 8-10pm.


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Amy Holden Concert Benefiting Children’s Miracle Network, Aug. 24th

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For one night only, east Texas singer-songwriter Amy Holden is set to perform live in concert at Liberty Hall on Friday, August 24th at 8pm.

Amy’s friends, Cole Risner, Meredith Crawford, and Milo Deering are also set to perform.

Fresh off her single release, “Best Time” on Texas Red Dirt Radio, Amy brings a new soulful twang with her style and flavor of upbeat country music to Tyler. Amy, a Nashville and Texas recording artist, has performed from New Zealand to the House of Blues. Bring the whole family to this family-friendly event and be prepared to be thoroughly entertained.

100% of proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Children’s Miracle Network. This fundraising event is sponsored by Texas Strong Promotions, Fire Dog Records, and Amy Holden Music Group.

Liberty Hall is located at 103 E. Erwin, Downtown Tyler. Tickets are available at

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East Texas State Fair Returns Sept. 21st-30th!

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East Texas State Fair to Bring Lots of Festivities!

The 2018 East Texas State Fair takes place September 21st-30th in Tyler.

The annual East Texas State Fair is set to host an estimated 250,000 visitors during the ten-day event to enjoy concerts, shows, rides, food, exhibits, and much more. Here’s a look at just some of the festivities to come:

Sheldon Casavant, Magician: World-renowned magician Sheldon Casavant takes the stage in the historic Mayfair building for an amazing show full of laughter, thrills, and impressive illusions. The show is featured each night during the fair at 8pm. The show is set to be as impressive as the 100-year-old building it’s hosted in. The historic Mayfair building was built in the late 1920’s and has seen musicians such as Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and so many more. While the building hasn’t been used in many years, fair organizers are opening it up once again for this spectacular show. Every Day.

The Craft Beer Tour: New to the fair this year the craft beer tour is an event you don’t want to miss. Craft breweries from all over Texas will gather in the upscale venue to present their beers to the public. For just $15 you can purchase a passport to sample up to 24 different beers from all over the State of Texas. So gather your friends and embark on a craft beer adventure. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the Fair.

The Summit: The ultimate party in the heart of the Fair! The Summit is an all-new venue for live music, beer, margaritas, and a great place to hang out with friends and family. The Summit stage will feature live local music from artist such as Ray Johnston Band, Billie Jo Sewell, Holly Tucker, Sabrina Toole, and many more. Every Day.

Chili Cook-Off: Come enjoy samples of chili from over 30 different teams as they compete for the prize of “Grand Champion.” It’s going to be a great place to hang out with live music, cold beer, and plenty of delicious chili. Interested in having a team of your own? Gather your friends, family, co-workers, etc. and register to compete. Sunday, September 23rd beginning at 9am.

Sea Lion Splash: Sea Lion Splash is a unique show that will have crowds cheering and laughing. It’s an educational show with a “splash.” The sea lions will amaze the crowd as they balance balls, shoot hoops, dance, perform stunts, and show their pretty smiles. This is the only show in the U.S. to feature both California and South American sea lions.

Timberworks: You’ll love this fast-paced thrilling show as two authentic lumberjacks go head-to-head in a variety of competitions. These include log rolling, cross-cut sawing, hot sawing, axe throwing, chainsaw carving, chopping, and speed pole climbing. Timberwork’s Lumberjack Show offers spectators a unique blend of logging history, world class competition, and plenty of hilarious comedy. Every Day.

The Sound Exchange: The Sound Exchange is a five member a cappella group bringing dazzling harmonies, and wise-cracking audience interaction together in a whirlwind a cappella experience that is not to be missed. Whether you love soulful ballads, blistering rock anthems, jazz standards, or chart-topping singles…. or, perhaps you just love to laugh and have fun. Then, you’re in for a treat with the hijinks & harmonies of The Sound Exchange. Every Day

That’s not all! The Fair will be full of a variety of exhibits, attractions, rides, games, and more. From fair favorites like the petting zoo, pony rides, and the legendary food row to a variety of exhibits like AgriWorld, Creative Arts, and The Marketplace there’s sure to be something for everyone to enjoy.

This impressive lineup of all things new to do at the Fair will not disappoint- there’s truly something for everyone. And let’s not forget all the favorite returning attractions:

The Great American Petting Zoo: This petting zoo is unlike any other- held within a 1,200 square foot enclosure, each animal runs freely with the public once inside. A favorite among kiddos, these friendly animals- all hand raised here in Texas- make for a ton of fun in this barrier-free petting zoo. The space is kept immaculately clean, and trained petting zoo staff are always available for any questions. Open every single day of the Fair, find more info here:

The Pony Rides: Your kid will thank you for this one! Come let them experience a real live pony ride, carousel style. For $5, these beautiful, purebred Welsh ponies will take your kiddos for a ride they won’t soon forget. Presented by Pony Express of Texas, these local ponies are safe, clean, and a whole lotta fun. Happening everyday of the fair, find more info here:

Carnival Rides and Games: As always, the Fair won’t leave you hanging if you’re in need of some thrill or friendly competition. You’ll find tons of exciting rides like The Freak Out, The Tornado, and The Ring of Fire, along with plenty of gaming fun this year at the Fair. For detailed schedule and pricing info, head here:

Legendary Food Row: Mac & Cheese Fries, Chocolate Covered Fried Bacon, Chili Dogs, Turkey Legs, 4 Meat Baked Potato, Fried Cheesecake…need we say more? The options available at Food Row are endless- wear your comfy pants and your maybe belt a tad loose, because everyone knows there’s no such thing as a diet during the Fair. This is the real deal, folks- find a list of all the different vendors and food offerings here (it’s crazy long!):

A Ride Share: a special new drop-off lane for coming and going to the fair, made for guests who use a Rideshare service for transportation instead of driving themselves. That’s right folks: this is the year that Fair parking woes and hassles will finally come to an end, leaving you with more important things to worry about (like whether to order a smoked turkey leg or funnel cake..or both.)

“Our goal is to take some of the strain off of our parking lots and make it easier for visitors to come and go safely. The lane will literally drop you off right at the North gate. You’ll step out of your car and walk right in!” -Cody Rosenbalm, Director of Marketing at Park of East Texas.

The drop-off lane is located at the intersection of Front St. (Hwy 31) and Fair Park Dr. The lane is only accessible when traveling eastbound on Front St. (Hwy 31) from the Loop towards downtown.

It’s hard to believe how much there is to offer at this year’s Fair- the organizers have gone above and beyond to ensure an unforgettable experience for each and every guest.

And don’t forget- there’s still SO much more to see and do at the Fair in addition to this incredible curation of attractions. Whether it be the Photography Contest, the Livestock Show, Senior Day Bingo, or the countless exhibits in The Marketplace, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Gear up, everybody- The East Texas State Fair plans to blow it out of the water for 2018. See you there!

For more information or to get tickets go to

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