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Searching For A Sign


24 x 30"

acrylic on canvas

The Crucible, Norman, OK


The sign welcoming us into Texas is embellished with the state flag, and a phrase that says, “Drive friendly - the Texas way.” I laugh at the paradox as a rock kicks up from the concrete, sending a crack across our windshield. We enter Houston and, after replacing the windshield, visit a little building named Archway Gallery. We aren’t displaying a painting here, but hope that the local art will introduce us to the area. Unfortunately, most of the work is floral, abstract or landscapes of far off places, so we turn to the woman at the desk. Her art is hung sporadically throughout, and she is quick to write a list of all the “Houston must sees.” Her personalized tour takes us by some interesting, yet odd, sites such

as a house made of beer cans, a motor home in the shape of a missile, a circus made of junk and a 54 ft. man-made, waterfall. 

In Austin, an ostentatious state capital defines state pride. Just in case we forget which state we are in, the walls, chandeliers, and even door hinges are labeled with a capital T-E-X-A-S. Our guide speaks of the six flags that have flown over the state in its struggled for independence. Learning of these trials helps understand why state pride is so prevalent here. 

Beyond Houston’s boldness, Austin’s vanity, the liveliness of Dallas and the romantic waterways of San Antonio, we find a bit of “nowhere” that flows with inspiration. They call this place Pedernales State Park, and we spend an entire day exploring turquoise pools of water that travel down, into and around, solid rock. Signs warn of flash floods, and the base of grey trees pose tangled in each other. Like fingers twisting and grasping for a foundation, these quiet giants search for stability. Water has ripped the soil from beneath their base, leaving only rocks intertwined in the roots. The image reminds me of how Texas as a whole struggled to establish stable roots.

I work in the car, a hotel room and Oklahoma’s Vendome Flower Park before finishing the tenth piece in this series. After uploading the finished image to our website, I receive a comment saying, "I just don't see much Texas in that." This remark makes me think about what I was doing, and why. I feel as if I have done my job. 

It is not my objective to simply represent each state in its entirety. I could accomplish that from the comforts of my own home. My goal is to illustrate the feeling, landscape and/or history that inspires me during my short interaction with each state. It is important that viewer remember that this is a personal journey, and not simply a depiction of our nation. In sharing Alfonso’s and my experiences, we hope to define and illustrate the adventure that lies within this amazing country.