David and I recently returned from a road trip that took us into some new territory. While we've traveled Texas and neighboring states of the Southwest between here and the California coast, made it up through Colorado and Wyoming into Montana several times, headed due east from Texas along the coast line to Florida, did a drive along the blue ridge parkway through North Carolina, spent a magical week in Vermont and, of course, explored Manhattan on several occasions when exhibiting at art and licensing shows in NYC, there's still so much to discover in this great country of ours.
This most recent trip took us into Arkansas and the lower Ozarks. While we were a bit early for the fall color that the area is known for, it was nonetheless an inspiring trip. We found that both nature and human creativity thrives...and we only scratched the surface.
From stately mansions that have been standing the test of time for more than a century to quirky and colorful "sweaters" wrapped around the trunks the trees from a recent "crochet in the park" event, creative expression can often be found in the most unlikely of places. I couldn't help but to think about the tenacity that it took to turn steep hillsides into communities: clearing the forests for roads, laying foundations for buildings, harnessing the natural resources (like the hot springs) to create both places for people to live and work, and popular destinations for tourists who would arrive by horseback and wagon, then train and finally by car. The first 3 photos below were taken in along Bath House Row in Hot Springs, Ark. The "Mona Lisa" was in a gallery window in Hot Springs. The crochet on the trees was found in a little pocket park in Eureka Springs. In researching things to see and do and recalling conversations with folks who had been or lived there, I came across something call Thorncrown Chapel and put it on my must-see list, which is shown in the last photo for this grouping. Located outside of Eureka Springs, it's an amazing glass church in the woods. As you can imagine, popular for weddings!
When it come to art and architecture, a highlight of the trip was a tour of Quigley's Castle. The creative spirit behind the project was Elise Quigley. How I would have loved to have met this amazing woman! If you are so inclined, I suggest you read about her and her "castle" when you get a chance. And if you're ever in Eureka Springs, take the drive south down AR23 and see it for yourself. In the meantime, here are a few photos.
Quigley's Castle combines art and nature, but of course, I'm always on the look out for colorful and interesting landscapes, from wide sweeping hilltop views to intimate details of leaves on a tree. And Arkansas had no shortage...even if we were too soon for much in the way of fall colors (but did find a little here-n-there).
And, last but not least...flowers! In the country, in towns, in cities, we found many varieties in bloom. Inspiration for future paintings, no doubt!
Thank you for taking this "trip" with me. I hope you enjoyed reading about our travels and getting to see some photos.