Feeling as if I was heading off into Hell’s Breech, me and a 17-foot squid-covered U-Haul lumbered down the road, after landing at the Dallas Love Field. Immediately after the first exit, the right front rear view mirror worked its way out of the mount. I careened off the freeway, scrambled around, salvaged the mirror, and called U-Haul.The only place it could be repaired on my route was at one of their corporate locations in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This made for a prayer-laden ride, as my method for merging into the right lane was to count to twelve after I passed the vehicle to my right. But the gods were with me and off I went in pursuit of the very best art in the United States. How fun!
My first stop was outside Austin, Texas at Denise La Rue Mahlke’s studio home, which is nestled in the hills outside the city. There, the oaks and gullies surrounding her home show the stress of the ongoing Texas drought. Her studio left me drop-jawed. I had no idea the depth and breadth of the work my favorite pastelist has been producing. Hitting her creative stride, she has been taking prizes left and right. I can see why. I brought home a selection of exquisite works.
Heading out towards Fredericksburg, Texas, I felt as if I could weep. I love the hill country and although just before my arrival it has rained a bit, whole hillsides of trees are gone to brown. Bill and Nancy Bush have a magnificent studio home on the hills over looking the best view the area has to offer, both inside and out.
We spent a grand time on the porch, weather perfect, sipping tea and discussing the exciting world of the Fredericksburg Artists’
School, which houses workshops for some of the best painters in the world. Conversation turned to the heady times we are experiencing in competence-based work, I was able to venture past their lovely personal art collection, continue up the stairs into the hallowed space of Nancy’s studio, complete
with budding artist granddaughter.
I have adored Nancy’s work for a very long time. Her sense of atmosphere is so complete. The incredible painting we loaded into the U-Haul makes my heart sing. It is the veils of clouds cascading over the back of the Tetons, dwarfing line of high meadow cattle. Wow.