Over the long Labor Day weekend, we took a day to explore art in East Texas, specifically the Tyler, Texas area. After meeting my parents for lunch (they live in Lufkin, and Tyler is a frequent halfway meeting point) we took the rest of the day to see what art we could discover in Tyler and along the road back to Dallas. We were somewhat limited by Sunday business hours, but I'm happy to report that there was still plenty of art to experience between Tyler and Dallas!
Most of the art we saw was street art and murals. But that was great! This type of art is always free and always available to everyone, so we are thrilled to share so much of it, like this 1950s-era glass mosaic.
Lots of pretty decorative architecture to see, too.
We were also happy to learn that the Tyler Museum of Art has Sunday hours. It had been on our radar for a while, as its curator, Caleb Bell, has been doing some cool things in Dallas and elsewhere. I was eager to see what was showing in his home museum, and I wasn't disappointed!
The museum was in the process of turning over exhibitions, so we were limited to one gallery, which was showing "Books, Books & More Books: Works by MANUAL." (On view through Nov. 10.)
These photographic prints, a collaborative project with the Literacy Council of Tyler, were so striking.
"Though created within the classic genre of still life, the artistic duo sees its work in the Book Project more as “staging discrete dramas on a very small stage,” they wrote. “What we may be doing in this extended project is just a different form of ‘romance’ with the book than is reading and researching.” - Book Project MANUAL artists Suzanne Bloom and Ed Hill.
This photo is the epitome of my "I want to go to there" aesthetic.
My photos don't come close to doing justice to these beautiful photographs. If you are in or anywhere near Tyler, I urge you to go see them for yourself.
We took the scenic route back to Dallas, aka, a road that runs mostly parallel to I-20, but is much, much prettier in that treed and hilly way that East Texas becomes in its northern parts, before it transitions to the pine trees further southeast.
Our first stop was Edom, a "blink and you'll miss it" intersection of art galleries, restaurants and funky finds. Don't blink, because you wouldn't want to miss this charming place!
Our travels also took us through Ben Wheeler and Canton, which is known for its First Monday Trade Days. Ben Wheeler was a nice surprise, another roadside mix of art, antiques and restaurants.
East Texas, like other regions with smaller towns, is growing a lot these days due to their affordability and relative ease of living. In general, I have found that the new locals have done a really nice job in aligning their businesses and ambitions with their towns' cultures, while modernizing them a bit to bring in more visitors and residents.
This is the second "small town" art adventure we've embarked on, and our larger adventures usually include smaller towns as well. We are adventuring through small towns in Central Texas next weekend. It is so cool to explore off the beaten path, discover new things, and shine a light so that others may benefit.
If you'd like to trace our steps on your own East Texas Art Adventure, here's a helpful map. Use the plus/minus buttons to zoom in. Clicking the right corner square will activate full-screen mode, where you can input your own starting address.