Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Living

May 20, 2013

Elevating Art: Artist opens local gallery with eclectic collection

JACKSONVILLE — Wander into Arthur Sekula's 421 S. Main St. art gallery, and any number of pieces of work produced by the San Antonio native catch your eye.

Like the bust of a pony-tailed girl located in the center of the gallery, sculpted one summer in Santa Fe at a workshop led by a nationally known artist. Toward the back of the room, near the door that leads into his studio, is a rack with  tomato-themed pieces, a nod to the to the city's upcoming Tomato Festival.

And then there is the quartet of winged frogs created more than two decades ago as part of a college art project.

The frogs – all named King Leo – provide a splash of color and whimsy more in line with Fiesta celebrations held in his hometown than the landscapes and architectural pieces Sekula is known for doing.

“I wrote a book, something I had to do for a secondary art project in college, and it was called ‘King Leo and the Kingdom of Rutebega’ – these are my Leo guys, Leo 1, 2, 3 and 4,” he said, handling the pieces. “I thought, a winged frog … it just popped in my head.

“To be honest with you, I just like to make things,” he said. “I just like doing things that are interesting to me.”

And now that Sekula is retired from teaching, “I can devote all my time to painting.”

With the opening of A. Sekula Fine Art Gallery, he's hoping local residents will not only find his work as interesting, but be inspired to tap into their own creative side.

“A man one time said – and it was the best compliment anyone could have given me – ‘Your work shows that you really enjoy painting,'” he said, describing how he hopes others discover this love, too, through lessons he will be offering at his studio.

For now, instruction will focus on painting with watercolors, drawing and block printing, but “we can do whatever we want,” he said. “And the lessons are going to be inexpensive – if you want to do just one, it'll be only $40.”

His own journey into the world of art began at San Antonio College, where “at that time, I was trying for commercial art (degree), but that wasn’t quite my thing – I was doing a lot of other things, more the fine arts,” Sekula said.

After moving to East Texas, he began working full-time at Rusk State Hospital while attending Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. “I went off and on, and graduated in 1989 with a bachelor of fine arts,” he said.

At the facility – “back then it was called 'maximum security'” – Sekula led “arts and crafts types of things” with inmates for several years before applying for a teaching position with Jacksonville ISD.

“I applied at the high school, but they needed someone at the junior high at that time, so I did that” several years before being transferred to the Nichols Intermediate campus, he recalled.

He served as a local art teacher for 10 years before taking a teaching position with the Rusk school district, leading to a seven-year stint in Rusk.

Teaching dovetailed nicely into his work as an artist: When school was out for the summer, Sekula hit the road to show his work at art fairs and in galleries.

“I told my wife, ‘You know, I’m gonna try to do a show in every state (on the mainland),’ and I’m working towards that,” he smiled.

He met Susan while first working in Rusk, and said the Westwood ISD primary school music teacher “has been my support, my best partner ever” in pursuing his goals as an artist.

In fact, Susan is the one who encouraged him to realize his dream of owning a gallery.

Several years ago, while at a July art show in Buda, “she turns at me, looks at my work and says, ‘you should be in a gallery. Your work should be in a gallery,'” Sekula recalled. “And I say, ‘yeah,’ and I’m thinking to myself, ‘oh, my gosh ... I think you’re right.’”

While launching the art gallery has not been without its challenges or stresses – contractor delays, slow days when maybe one person visits the shop – Sekula feels Jacksonville is the perfect place to embrace this type of endeavor, and hopes that the city grows into a go-to place for art.

“Look at these towns that are smaller than Jacksonville, like Edom and Ben Wheeler – if you talk to (art shop owners) there, they'll say that the people who come see them are from Dallas, from out of town – they’re drawing people in from other areas, and I hope that runs true for me, too,” he said.  

For now, though, Sekula wants people to know that “art” isn't some over-priced and out-of-reach object they can only dream about; art is meant to be enjoyed – and owned – by all.

“When you see the word, ‘gallery,’ you probably (imagine) big old dollar signs in your head, but I like to think that mine is affordable,” he said. “Because art should be affordable for anyone to collect it, for anyone who wants to collect it.”

1
Text Only
Living
  • churned ice cream.tif I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream

    Good things come to those who wait, especially when homemade ice cream is involved.
    Just ask Carolyn Easter of Wells, who grew up in rural Houston County using a hand-cranked freezer to create the delectable dessert.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gearing up with Jacksonville's Back to School Fair

    A little more than a decade ago, Father Mark Kusmirek learned from a parishioner who worked at JISD that approximately 80 percent of local students were from economically disadvantaged families.

    July 12, 2014

  • WilliePRichardson.tif A friend indeed ... Comedian’s last show honors E.Texas friend

    It certainly makes sense that nationally known comedian Willie P. Richardson’s final gig is a tribute to his friend Pam White.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jacksonville Education Foundation to honor Guinn, Womack

    The Stars at night shine clear and bright, deep in the heart of Jacksonville!  
    Directors and volunteers of the Jacksonville Education Foundation are busy preparing for the third annual “Evening With Our Stars” event set for August 14, 2014.

    June 21, 2014

  • LIV 5-24 swink dancers 2554.tif Dancing their hearts out

    Teams from Swink Studio of Dance have racked up several awards this year as they performed in dance competitions from Tyler to Texarkana, said studio owner Jill Swink.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • A different route to parenthood provides unexpected blessing

    Love – and motherhood – can come unexpectedly.
    Just ask Jacksonville resident Laura Mullenax, whose foray into the world of adoption with her husband, Tim, began with a challenging start and ended with an unexpected blessing.
    The couple, who are owners of T&L Automotive, are parents to 21-year-old TJ, Tim's son from a previous marriage. However, “we wanted a child between us,” Mullenax said.

    May 10, 2014

  • Mother’s Day a century-old tradition

    This year marks the 100-year anniversary of Mother's Day, when Congress passed a resolution to honor mothers after a multi-year campaign by Anna Jarvis, who wanted to memorialize her mother's lifelong activism, according to the National Women's History Project website.

    May 10, 2014

  • Local reviews ‘Tomato Republic’

    On April 9, I had the privilege and pleasure of seeing the world premiere of The Tomato Republic, a documentary movie about the 2013 Jacksonville, Texas, mayoral election. The film was entered in the Dallas Film Festival within the Texas subjects division.

    April 15, 2014

  • “I am the resurrection and the life”

    For millions of believers throughout the world, Holy Week is considered the high point of the Christian year, because they recall the series of events in Jesus' life that began with a welcome embrace and ended with his death by crucifixion.

    April 12, 2014

  • 'Thespians ‘N Training’ group ready to sign up new talent

    TNT (“Thespians ‘N Training”) theatre arts camp will be offered for the 11th consecutive year by Cherokee Civic Theatre.  TNT 2014 will run July 14-26 at the historic Cherokee Theater.

    April 5, 2014