Tag Archives: art

Cool Summer Stories: Writing with Strangers at the Bullock Museum

16 Aug

What happens when you set out paper, pens, and a few inspirational quotes in the corner of a museum and ask people, “Hey, you want to write something?”

Badgerdog recently partnered with Cool Summer Nights at the Bullock Museum to encourage some fun creative writing on a summer eve. Cool Summer Nights invites folks out of the heat and into the AC of the downtown Bullock Museum to explore new exhibits, enjoy craft cocktails and coffee, and make beautiful stuff/learn things with Austin organizations like Austin Book Arts and Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. The theme of this particular event was Identity, so Badgerdog posed some thought-provoking questions alongside literary quotes. What we received in return was a gathering of storytellers of all stripes: parents writing alongside their children, travelers befriending native Texans, old friends discovering the secret novelist in the group, and teen writers penning fantastical adventure pieces on the spot.

What happens when you invite folks to make cool stuff with you? You get to watch new writerly friendships unfold, you see mother/daughter duos writing back-and-forth, and you get to read amazing stories and make new friends. Here is a sampling of the stories writers came up with at the Badgerdog table in the Bullock Museum.

Inspired by this Sylvia Beach quote: “I am a citizen of the world,” writers respond to the prompt—If you had to pick a place that represents you most, what would it be?

london night lights bridge

Photo by Uncoated on Pexels.com

Waterloo Bridge

If there’s one place that represents me the most, I would say Waterloo Bridge in London. London to me represents a true melting pot of the world. Contemporary yet steeped in tradition. It represents the path I created for myself. British citizenship—not the ‘easy’ or planned route, rather a path sparked by connection and saying YES to opportunity. learning from others and learning a spot where it’s fun to be because of what you can see. Even though the bridge itself isn’t the most ornate. You can see St. Paul’s and London Bridge…. yet you can also see Westminster. It’s a direct route between the Strand, Holborn, the city—over to Waterloo and Southwark. It feels expansive.

Rachel Martino

Earthworm

I am an earthworm.

Growing up in a remote village in China, I had very strong aversion toward little creatures such as bugs and worms. Any time I saw one, I would try to kill it with rocks or little knives. Until one day, when I cut an earthworm in half.

To my shock, the earthworm came back alive and started crawling toward me. Being only 4 or 5 years old, I got scared and screamed for help. My father rushed over, “Yeah, a little earthworm can survive anything, including hurt as severe as being cut in half. It might not seem much, but it does a lot of good to our earth, marking it futile for us to grow crops”.

I am now an earthworm. I might seem petite, but I can survive any hardship life thrusts upon me. I might not show up in spotlight often, but I quietly do good for the community I live in, whether in China decades ago or here in Texas now.

C.J. Zhao

Inspired by this quote from Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club: “You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet…” writers respond to the prompt: Okay, but if you HAD to pick a material object to represent you, what would it be? Why? 

yellow flower field across brown mountain

Photo by Rudolf Kirchner on Pexels.com

In the Land of the Dead

I would choose the trail I’d leave if I had an errand in the Japanese Land of the Dead. You are required to abandon your belongings and beliefs along the rock cave path. On my path would be my Apache tan ropers, and my belief that Winnie the Pooh is the best book ever written, and my socks with the little black whales on ‘em, and my memory of clear, cold snowmelt sliding over granite boulders in the Basin, in Franconia Notch; and my jeans and my plain purple grannie panties, and the sound of the meteor falling out of the sky over Lake Travis at dawn, with an electric, tearing whisper. Then there would be my coral cotton summer sweater, and memory of how to hold a horse’s hoof while picking a rock from the frog, and a white camisole, and my memory of how my neck got a crick in it while I was watching for that darn meteor. Then, my glasses. So then I can’t see.

Melodie McLellan

Uplifting Others

When I pass on from this adventure we call life on Earth, I will be content if I can look back and see an undeniable pattern of making the lives of others better.

Even as a child I’ve felt a sense of joyous fulfillment when helping others. Late grade school found me fascinated and drawn into computers and the pure rush of making complex electronics do my bidding. As I’ve matured into a young and now middle-aged person, I’ve learned that beyond the self-satisfaction I can profoundly uplift others with my work.

Really, no gesture is too small though. Even simple acts of every day kindness silently tell others that they matter and have worth. May I finish my years always enriching the shared journey of others.

Nolan Egly

Inspired by this quote from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will,” writers respond to the prompt: When have you exerted your independence? Was there a time where you felt free? Describe that moment. How did you feel?

Free…

No gain without loss? Isn’t that the rule? Some kind of Natural Law: No action without an equal and opposite response. We choose to change our circumstances without thinking how we’ll be changed by the choosing.

I walked away from family.
What relief. I am safe now. I am free.

brown wooden floor

Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

It’s funny though. It took so much courage to leave I never expected it to take such strength to learn to be the person without them.

I am not the same man in a new future. I am a new man in a new present. I escaped into the chrysalis. I am free.

Jayse Cardinal Tahkiné

Memories of Nature

16 Jun

Art and language go together like peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, shoes and socks. (Okay, maybe not shoes and socks.) But words can help us locate the images contained in our experience and memory. At the same time, visual art can inspire new turns of phrase, new insights, new ways of seeing. It makes sense, then, that we’ve developed a fruitful partnership with Mobile Art Project, which provides art workshops in nursing homes and elder care facilities. In our latest joint effort, we coupled our programs to work with a group of folks experiencing early memory loss. Our Badgerdog teaching artist Claire Campbell used nature poems to inspire memories of the outdoors. These written works became the basis for art activities led by Theresa Zelazny and her Mobile Art volunteers. We are excited to share these combinations of art and language with you. And we are especially grateful to AGE of Central Texas for inviting us to serve their clients. And to Mobile Art for the great work they do, and the work we do together.

Cecily Sailer
Library Foundation Programs Manager

Acrylic on canvas by Ed McQuillan

Acrylic on canvas by Ed McQuillan

Peter

Peter was… oops… is my friend. We share a love for the outdoors. We are both hunters and came to be friends through the women in our lives. He came to me through his sister, Sis. Me through my wife, Jean. The wives were friends and school classmates. Pete’s a big and husky redhead. Me? Not much can be said about a five-foot frame on a mature male. Pete and his sister, Sis, vacationed in Northeast Pennsylvania near the town of Milford on the Delaware River.

Ed McQuillan

Acrylic on canvas by Boyd Spencer

Acrylic on canvas by Boyd Spencer

Empire Bluff

The overlook of Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes are about four miles outside the village of Empire, Michigan. To reach the overlook, one must hike about a mile on a nature trail. Different types of trees can be seen at different levels of the walk. Birch trees are my favorite.

Boyd Spencer

Acrylic on canvas by Keith Peco

Acrylic on canvas by Keith Peco

She (Stephanie)

She is like a field of bluebonnets.
She is like a waterfall.
She is a diamond.
She is strong.
She is a winner.
She is my everything.

Keith Peco

Acrylic on wood by Kelly

Acrylic on wood by Kelly

Colorado River

A green stream flowing through a myriad
of physical conditions—some rushing, some calm.
It affords exciting fishing experiences,
from trout, carp, catfish, and bass.
All fun to catch and a tasty repast.
It is usually cold to our touch, but tasty to our mouths.
Rapidly flowing, it permits little stagnation or visible algae.

Kelly Meyer

Collage on mat board by Gary

Collage on mat board by Gary

My Garden

In my backyard, I have a swing with two seats. We sit together and watch the clouds blown by the wind. We look forward to rain filling the creek down the hill from our house. The rain runs down the stream that wanders about half a mile to Lake Travis, which is a dammed-up segment of a river that flows through Austin.

I grow individual flowers in pots that are arranged and rearranged monthly and watered daily. As they bloom, I can fill a dozen vases and carry them into our house.

Outside, along the creek, are tall trees that wave their limbs in the drifty winds.

Gary Cobb

Acrylic on canvas by Frank

Acrylic on canvas by Frank

My Dog

My dog is in our backyard. He likes living in the yard because he always runs around very excitedly. My dog is in the yard. He likes being in the yard because he always runs around and likes to roll in the grass and dirt. He flows about me, getting dirty; like me, too!

Frank Leggio

Place Where I Enjoyed Nature

I grew up on a small farm east of Austin, near Manor. There were lots of pecan and oak trees. Beautiful smells, clean air, lots of vegetation, and cornfields. The sound of the open space, wild animals, quiet evenings. We had animals—horses, cows, etc.

Art Cunningham

Watercolor on paper by Karen Smith

Watercolor on paper by Karen Smith

Scene from a Calendar

Moss hanging from tree
Azaleas
Peaceful
Laying under the tree
Rolling in the dirt

Karen Smith

Watercolor on paper by Art Ulbrich

Watercolor on paper by Art Ulbrich

Black-Throated Green Warbler

Skinny legs
Yellow head
Black breast
The legs are so thin
How does it support itself?

Art Ulbrich

Acrylic on canvas by Bob

Acrylic on canvas by Bob

Sunflower

Soft petals in yellow
She loves me, she loves me not
As the petals are plucked

Bob Liebl

Acrylic on canvas by Fred

Acrylic on canvas by Fred Lucas

Beauty Undecided

A model “A” comes forth in a vision of strength.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Strength for evaluation.

Fred Lucas

Acrylic on canvas by Charles

Acrylic on canvas by Charles Walker

My First Snow

Whenever I see lightning, my mind drifts back to St. Louis. Snowflakes drifted outside my window. I was six years old and hadn’t seen snow before. The snow was drifting down, and I was so excited. When I awoke the next morning, the snow was still coming down. The drifts were so deep that I could burrow into the drifts and be completely covered.

The next day, the snow stopped coming down. As soon as I could go outside, I started leaping into the drifts. Unfortunately, the drifts also covered up the obstacles you could not see.

Charles Walker