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In Between Lies True Art

Posts Tagged ‘water color’

Artist Alley Artistic Update #1

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

I have accepted the position of INTERACTIVE ART COORDINATOR for the AARON DOUGLAS ART FAIR. I will be responsible for creating an Interactive Art Project that attendees of the Fair can take home with him. Thank you Staci Dawn and Aaron Douglas Fair Board Members for this opportunity to assist with this important event.


On another note: My water color painting, “The Albino Woman” will be featured on an episode of the Destination America television show “Monsters and Mysteries in America” scheduled to air sometime in March. The episode is about Topeka’s Albino Woman.

"The Albino Woman" By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

“The Albino Woman” By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

Fritz Durien Hall of Fame Warehouse

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Water Color on 9“ x !2” Cold Press Paper

"Fritz Durien's Hall of Fame Warehouse" By; J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

“Fritz Durien’s Hall of Fame Warehouse” By; J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

What Carry Nation did to keep Kansas dry, Fritz Durien did to keep Kansas wet. From his Hall of Fame Saloon Topeka Barkeep Fritz Durien kept stashes of the good stuff at various locations under the floor boards of his Saloon. Not one to go down easy Ol’ Fritz fought the battle against Kansas Prohibition all the way to the high court.

The photo that this painting is based on struck me for it’s stark simplicity of an act of defiance. Fritz is not making a grand gesture rather the gesture is simple and speaks volumes. You can almost hear Fritz thoughts as he stashes his treasure; “My customer’s will not go thirsty. But more importantly neither will I.”

Fritz’s battle with the government hit’s close to home for me and my wife. My wife and I also had our battle with church people and a city government that wanted to close down our little neighborhood tavern in Baxter Springs, Kansas because of the evilness of liqueur and beer. We fought the good fight but eventually grew tired and moved on. Fritz also eventually gave up the good fight, closed his Saloon and headed off to Germany. In a strange twist of ironic fate the “Hall of Fame” Saloon went from selling hard liqueur to selling soda pop after Fritz had left the building.


“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”

Dark Days Of November

Friday, November 22nd, 2013
"JFK" By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

“JFK” By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

This Print Available For Sale At:

It was a bright and sunny in Topeka, Kansas that November day of 1963. I was in first grade at Clay Elementary and I had ran the three blocks to school that morning wearing nothing more heavy or confining than my Kansas City Chiefs sweat shirt. The Chiefs were playing their first season in KC and I was a fan.
We had spent the morning in class reading from our primers; See Dick, See Jane, See Spot. Run Spot Run. At 11:30 am we had been shuffled into the combination gymnasium and auditorium. The folding tables had been set out and I sat at my assigned spot quickly eating my lunch from my Jetson’s lunch box, the sooner I got down lunch the quicker I could go out to the playground. I played tether ball with my friends until our teacher, Miss Pyle called us in with a blow of her whistle.
Miss Pyle was a stereotypical old maid school teacher. She was pushing retirement age, had never married and had devoted her entire life to the education of children. Tall and lean her austere demeanor was offset by her flower print long linen dresses, cat eye glasses and white hair pulled back into a tight bun.
After lunch Miss Pyle instructed us take out our math work books. I lifted the lid of my desk at the back of the classroom reaching into the cavernous metal well below the lid. I extracted my math workbook. The book looked old and tattered; missing a multitude of pages that had been ciphered, judged, graded, corrected and discarded. I closed the lid to my desk and sat my large pencil in the empty ink well pocket at the upper right corner of the desk. The ink well pocket was a remnant of a time past yet at seven years of age I was completely ignorant of what it’s prior use was. To me it was just a convenient place to put things.
I liked my place at the back of the room, by the chalkboard. Early in the school year Miss Pyle noticed that I was running out of paper in my Big Chief tablet long before other children in the class; she soon discovered why. I was finishing my classroom assignments quicker than the other children and would doodle in my Big Chief tablet to pass the time. Miss Pyle had sat me at the back of the classroom by the chalkboards that adorned the swivel doors of the coat closet. Her instructions had been simple; “When you finish your work doodle on the blackboard and do not disturb the other children.” So that is what I did… Doodle.
It was shortly after 12:30 pm and I was doodling on the chalkboard having already finished figuring out that 2 + 2 = 4 when our Principal Mr. Sheldon entered the room. Leonard Sheldon was tall and lean and in many ways was the male counterpart of Miss Pyle. Mr. Sheldon would one day be my Junior High School Principal at two different schools but today he was just my Grade School Principal and something was wrong.
Mr. Sheldon was usually a very stern individual, more of an administrator than a educator he looked at all things with a very analytical practicality. Seldom would any hint of emotion cross his face. To see a slight smile play at the corner of his mouth was a rare and unusual event yet now he stood in the doorway of our classroom with tears in his eyes. “Miss Pyle may I speak with you in the hall for a moment?” He choked out. Every child in the classroom looked at Miss Pyle as she crossed the classroom and exited out the door. Mr. Sheldon softly closed the door and we were left to our own devices.
Some of my classmates seized the opportunity to start cutting up and throwing waded up paper balls at each other, while others ran from desk to desk laughing and playing around as for myself I was feeling anxious and I kept looking at the door. I wondered why Mr. Sheldon was crying and what it had to do with Miss Pyle.
Miss Pyle stepped back into the room and my classmates settled down, then the room got eerily silent as each and every child saw that their teacher had tears flowing down her cheeks. Miss Pyle’s usually pale and sallow face seemed somehow more pale and sallow than I had ever seen it. The click, click, click of her sensible shoes echoed within the high walls of the classroom as she made her way to her desk.
Stepping behind her desk Miss Pyle reached into her desk drawer and removed a tissue from the box she kept there. Dabbing at her eyes with the tissue Miss Pyle sniffled, cleared her throat and squared her shoulders. She looked out over the classroom of fresh young faces and in a soft voice said, “Children, class is dismissed. You are to go straight home, do not go anywhere else, do not go to your friends house, go home. Do you understand children?” Every young voice in the classroom sung out in harmony, “Yes Miss Pyle.”
As I put up my work book and pencils I looked up at the green cardboard changeable calendar on the wall. It was the type of calendar where one of the children was given the privilege of changing the numbers and day of the week each day. The calendar let all who looked at it know that today was Friday November 22, 1963.
I walked to the door and turned back to look at my desk to make sure that I had put everything up. Miss Pyle did not like items left on our desks and I did not want to write 100 times; “I will not leave things on my desk.” Miss Pyle came to the door and said in a small voice, “Run home Jimmy, run home.” She threw the switch by the door turning off the large overhead globe lights and walked back to her desk. The large windows on the east side of the room allowed the subdued light of the fall day to flood the classroom. I watched as Miss Pyle sunk down into her chair and buried her head in her hands; sobs racked her body. I left the room and did as instructed, I ran home.
When I ran into my home at 7th and Western Streets I discovered my mother and grandmother sitting in front of our tan GE Box Television. They should have been at work this time of day at Pelliters Department Store yet here they sat crying as they watched the black and white images on the screen. My mother held out her arms to me and I ran into them to be held in close. I did not know what was wrong but an immense sense of sorrow hung heavy in the air that day.
As my mother held me close and my grandmother stroked my hair CBS News Anchorman Walter Cronkite appeared on the TV screen, he too was crying. Looking up at a clock that was unseen to the eye of the camera he said, “From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official: President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2:00 Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.” Mr. Cronkite paused fighting back his tears. “Vice President Johnson has left the hospital in Dallas, but we do not know to where he has proceeded; presumably, he will be taking the oath of office shortly and become the 36th President of the United States…”
As I sit here typing this narrative I look back on those dark days in November of 1963. I remember clearly all the images that flashed upon the television screen. The Zapruder film shown over and over again. The never ending analysis of the shooting. The suppositions of why and how it happened. Rewind and rewind of slow motion Jack Ruby gunning down a slow motion Lee Harvey Oswald and of course the Presidential Funeral.
It has been said that upon the day of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, that we as a Nation lost our innocence. The nation may have well lost it’s innocence but I gained a sense of my own mortality. The loss of a beloved President taught me the meaning of life and death.
Would JFK have gone down in history as one of our greatest or worst Presidents if he had not been assassinated? We will never know. Would he be as loved and honored as he is without a bullet ending his life? Again, we will never know. Was there more than one gunman? It does not matter. What matters is that a man died and for what reason? We will never know.
It is now 50 years since the day that I ran home from school to learn that life is fragile. I have been away from my home for a long, long time yet somehow it seems appropriate that I have returned to Topeka at this time, on the 50th anniversary of the death of a President and the birth of my awareness. And on this 50th anniversary of the senseless assassination of our nations youngest President I have become aware of one other thing; my generation is the last one that will have the actual memory of those tragic days.
Most of us look at history from the position of an observer, not as a participant. When we think about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln we look at it from a text book point of view. All we know we learned in school, we have no first hand knowledge because no one is alive that lived within that time. But those such as I that were 7 years of age, or 6 or 5 at the time of the Kennedy assassination carry with us vivid memories of that day. One day the last member of my generation will pass away and there will be no one living that had an actual memory of November 22, 1963. Upon that day future generations will only know what they read in text books and are taught in school about the death of a President. JFK will seem no more real to those students of history than Lincoln did to us.
So while I live and breathe I will share with those that care what I witnessed first hand least the awareness of how this President, no, this mans death affected each and everyone of us on a personal level, regardless of age, sex, creed, color, religion or origin. I will remember John Fitzgerald Kennedy and mourn his loss yet more so I will mourn what we all loss on that bright and sunny day in Dallas, Texas; our sense of tranquility and the dream of Camelot. A Dark Day indeed.

“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”


Pore Richards

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
"Pore Richards" By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

“Pore Richards” By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

This Print Is Available For Sale At:

As a child my Saturdays and summer breaks centered around youth activities at the YMCA located, at that time, at SW 8th and Quincy in Topeka, Kansas. The youth area was in the basement of the one time USO building and was a virtual boys club. No girls were allowed in this sacred area that included pool tables, lounge area with large color television, which most homes did not have at the time, hobby shop ran by the wise, talented and noble Mr. Anderson and an Olympic size swimming pool.
Activities included Judo lessons, handball, basketball and trampoline in the gymnasium. Field trips ranging from tours of Frito Lay and Coca Cola to Flights on small planes at Billard airport. My first flight on an airplane was captured on a front page story in the Topeka Capital Journal during one of these field trips. And let’s not forget swimming lessons from Louie the Lifeguard (I eventually obtained the Junior Life Saver level after Louie threw me into the pool after I refused to swim but that’s another story for another day) and open swimming in the afternoon when the pool became no mans land.
Yes, for a boy the YMCA was a world filled with opportunity, education, wonderment and fun. Now days there is a parking lot located on that southwest corner that was once a bastion of a boys life yet that is not what this posting is about, no it is about the business that once sat at the opposite corner from the YMCA; Pore Richards Beer ’N Stein Café.
When I would walk to or leave the YMCA I would always notice the big black sign with the neon lettering and the caricature of the funny little Hobo on top with his “Toe Peek A ing” out of one shoe. I had always assumed that the silly little Hobo with the large round spectacles was the fabled “Pore Richard”. I always found it funny that the adult who had made the sign did not know how to spell the word “Poor” and I wondered if Mr. Richard had been upset when he first saw the sign.
There was never really anything about the sign nor the exterior of the building that would appeal to your appetite to invite you in yet it was a Topeka tradition and a Topeka gathering place. My grandmother would sometimes take a business lunch in this mysterious restaurant that was off limits to one of my tender age.
Yes, almost everyday of my young life I saw Pore Richards and his image became such a familiar sight to me that even to this day when I hear the term Poor Richards Almanac a vision of the funny little Hobo comes to mind.
I had vowed that one day, when I was an adult, I would have a “Beef ’N Stein” in the famous Café. But alas, that was never to be. As with so many things and places held dear to so many peoples heart “Pore Richards” passed into history and the pages of the past.
Sometimes I think about the iconic sign and wonder what happened to it. Is it collecting dust in someone’s storeroom that swears, “I’m going to do something with that someday!” or was it recycled for the metal that was in it. I personally would like to see it in a museum where future generations can smile at the friendly little Hobo but barring that I think the recycle scenario would be the best thing that could have happened to the sign.
I smile when I imagine the stoic little Hobo being the front grill of an expensive recreational vehicle rolling down the highway, freed from the confines of the sign and doing what a Hobo does; traveling the highways and the byways of America. I lift a Stein to you my dear unknown friend and your memory; Pore Richards.

“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”

4th And Jackson 1974

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
"4th and Jackson 1974" By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

“4th and Jackson 1974” By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

This Print Is Available For Sale At:

This scene from Topeka, Kansas shows the back side of Poor Bills Bar looking east towards Jackson Street. The buildings in the background face Kansas avenue. The Norva Hotel can be seen to the left.
The backs of buildings have always fascinated me. They are the hidden story of the true nature of the building. The facade may have been changed and updated with each passing generation but the unchanging rear is the window to the past.

“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”