Art & Photography on the Fly: Caddo Lake & Marshall, TX

“A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.” William Wordsworth may have never seen Caddo Lake, yet it is a perfect way to describe the effect of the lake’s beauty. On this second day at the lake we were now set out to capture this captivating grandeur through the lens of Mark Burns.

Daybreak Voyage, By Ryan Knesek

The LEAP Ambassadors met with photographer Mark Burns early in the morning to continue with our documentary process. As you may remember, Mr. Burns has been a part of the National Parks Project where he photographed all fifty-nine national parks in black and white.

On this expedition to Caddo Lake he focused mainly on the color scheme of the autumn cypress during the dawn hours while taking wildlife photos here and there.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Caddo Lake, Mark Burns
Photo by Mark Burns

LEAP Ambassadors were able to converse with the accomplished photographer and expand their knowledge of composition, lighting, and color scheme in photography.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Caddo Lake, Mark Burns

Being amateur photographers, we benefit from the knowledge he provides–even if it isn’t evident in our own photos!

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Caddo Lake

And as we saw the beautiful landscapes of the lake and the graceful wildlife, we set these newly learned skills into practice.

Starr Home, By Ryan Knesek

After meeting with Mark Burns in Uncertain, Texas, Leap Ambassadors found themselves in the city of Marshall. There, Ambassadors toured the historic Starr Family House, a Victorian-style home that was built with the money from the Starr’s land possessions.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Starr Historical Home, Marshall TX

Dr. James Harper Star was commissioned as president of the board of land commissioners and receiver of the land dues for Nacogdoches County by Sam Houston in 1837. The tour showcased refurbished wood flooring and antiques that were unique to the home. Art, woodworking, and portraits illustrated the family’s status when the Starrs had guests at home. Now, years after the owners’ lifetime, their elegant lifestyle is still admired.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Starr Historical Home, Marshall TX

Among the most interesting aspects of the home were all its artifacts. Ambassador Makayla and I were even allowed to use one of these artifacts, the stereograph.  This contraption functioned as early 3-dimensional glasses for photography and was the first time that Makayla and I had used now.

As one would imagine, the home showed portals into the past through its architecture and artifacts.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Starr Historical Home, Marshall TX

One interesting aspect of history while touring the home was Dr. Starr’s relationship with Sam Houston. Apparently, Dr. Starr owned land close to land owned by Sam Houston in Nacogdoches. However, land disputes arose while they were neighbors and Dr. Starr tired to sue the celebrated revolutionary war hero. Although this part of the home’s history didn’t show the most amiable side of the family, through touring the home the LEAP Ambassadors were able to expand their knowledge of the town of Marshall and its connection to Sam Houston.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Starr Historical Home, Marshall TX

Lunch at R & R Bakery, by Christina Perez

After the LEAP Ambassadors finished their tour of the Starr Family Home tour, we headed to lunch. We arrived in historic downtown Marshall, Texas…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Marshall TX, Harrison County Courthouse

and pulled into R & R Bakery and Coffee Shop. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by friendly staff and sat down ready to enjoy our meal. As we waited on Sierra and Sarah to arrive we shared our favorite things about the sunrise tour.  We discussed the birds, the colors of the trees, and our favorite part of the tour.  Ryan got the South Western roast beef sandwich with jalapeño bread and a garden salad on the side and lets just say he enjoyed his meal, clearly evidenced by a clean plate a few minutes after his order arrived. After lunch we shared some desserts, apple cinnamon scones for some and choclate chip cookies for others. It was a sweet way to enjoy the afternoon.

Michelson Museum of Art, By Makayla Mason

With such a filling lunch, we decided to walk it off with a small shopping session through town. Our wallets turned to the various antique shops along N. Washington Ave. And even though we could have spent longer at the shops, we made our way to the Michelson Museum of Art.

Opened in May 1985, the museum houses hundreds of pieces of art by artist Leo Michelson. The museum was founded following a donation from Leo Michelson’s widow. The donation consisted of more than 1,000 of Michelson’s art pieces.

Today, the museum consists of Michelson’s work, as well as works from locally and nationally recognized artists. The traveling exhibit that was currently at the museum was of illustrator Marla Frazee.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Marshall TX, Michelson Museum of Art

Frazee has illustrated several well-known children’s books such as The Boss Baby, Clementine, Stars, A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever and even one of my favorite book series, The Borrowers.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Marshall TX, Michelson Museum of Art

The Ambassadors enjoyed looking through books they remembered reading when they were younger and appreciated the detailed illustrations.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Marshall TX, Michelson Museum of Art

The other exhibit at the museum was “Our Artists and their Selfies.”

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Marshall TX, Michelson Museum of Art

This exhibit contained thirteen artists with pieces of their work paired with their self-portrait and a list of highly-recognized art museums that feature each artist.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Marshall TX, Michelson Museum of Art

One of the thirteen artists was Henri Matisse, a name familiar to the LEAP Ambassadors, so we decided to take a selfie!

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Marshall TX, Michelson Museum of Art, Henri Matisse

But from indoor art…we went back to the natural art of Caddo Lake. Sunset and sunrise lighting conditions are far from the same. That is why it was important for Mark Burns to return to the lake during the late afternoon. Swaying in the tranquil waters of the lake, Mr. Burns continued to look for that perfect spot to photograph.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Caddo Lake, Mark Burns

During his National Parks Project, he spent five years visiting and revisiting parks. This search, as you can tell, is continuous and ever changing. Even though we had been here over the summer, the lake is not under the same conditions as before.

“Water levels have fallen by three feet,” Wes, our captain and tour guide, told us.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Caddo Lake, Mark Burns

This affects the composition of Mr. Burns’s photos since cypress roots are more visible. Of course the most prominent change is the fall colors in the foliage of the cypress trees.  This is such an important trait of the lake since it changes the format in which Mr. Burns takes his photos.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Caddo Lake, Mark Burns

Now that the fall colors are so rich, Burns sought the right light for the perfect color.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Caddo Lake, Mark Burns
Photo by Mark Burns

Tomorrow will be our last chance, for now, to get the last few shots of the lake. As we returned to Marshall for dinner we reminisced on the day’s success. We even got to see a few of the photos that Mr. Burns had taken through out the day. With excitement in our step and a show of confidence…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Marshall TX, Harrison County Courthouse

…we returned to the hotel welcoming tomorrow’s adventures.

Honoring Sacrifice: HEARTS Veterans Day Gala, 2017

For the tenth time in ten years, the LEAP Ambassadors assisted with the annual HEARTS Veterans Gala.  More than 300 community members gathered at the HEARTS Conference Center for dinner, reflection, and companionship on November 11, Veterans Day.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, HEARTS Veterans Museum, Veterans Day Gala

The event MC was Col. Don Beal…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, HEARTS Veterans Museum, Veterans Day Gala

…and the Huntsville Men’s Choir was featured throughout the evening.  They performed six songs, including everyone’s favorite, “The Armed Forces Medley.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, HEARTS Veterans Museum, Veterans Day Gala

The LEAP Ambassadors greeted guests, assisted guests with seating, sponsored a table, and assisted with the silent auction, which raises money for ROTC scholarships.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, HEARTS Veterans Museum, Veterans Day Gala

During the evening, the HEARTS Museum staff honored various community members and volunteers for their service, including Karen Murff…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, HEARTS Veterans Museum, Veterans Day Gala

…Norman Ward, Dr. Tommy Davis, Betty Higgins, and John Sicola…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, HEARTS Veterans Museum, Veterans Day Gala

reinforcing the community aspect of the gathering.

And, speaking of which, it was enjoyable for us to see old friends, such as County Judge Danny Pierce, Judge Hal Ridley, Thomas Leeper…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, HEARTS Veterans Museum, Veterans Day Gala

…Captain Steve Fisher, Charlotte Olienik, Liesa Hackett, Bette Nelson, and many others.

It was a nice reminder the sacrifice made by our veterans and the important role of volunteerism in our community.

 

 

Moot Court Scrimmage, 2017

By Beatriz Martinez

After months of preparation, the SHSU Moot Court team had their first competition at The University of Texas Arlington. The scrimmage had everyone very excited, as everyone was ready to give it their best. We have 3 teams composed of three veterans and three new members. It was the moment of truth where we would see how far our hard work and dedication would take us.

May it Please the Court, We represent SHSU- Moot Court Day 1
By Beatriz Martinez

As hopeful lawyers in training, the 6 of us headed to the University of Texas Arlington for our first Moot Court Competition of the year. Various universities gather together after around six months of preparation. One “problem case” has been given to them, arguing two different legal issues. In this case, the issues we are addressing are the Fifth and Eight Amendments. The Moot Court competitors take the time to study these cases as well as 8-10 supporting actual cases that they use in order to create their arguments. Later, they go to a school, often times a law school, to present their case to a panel of judges made up of law students, law professors, lawyers, and even an occasional judge. Competitors are scored depending on their presentation skills, their quick thinking, knowledge of the case at bar, supporting cases, and of course their arguments!

SHSU Moot Court, LEAP Center, UTA, TUMCA

Everyone was nervous, but we played it off with our cool, professional lawyer-like demeanor. We had all prepared to the best of our abilities and were ready to give it our best. After signing in, we scouted the school to find where our “courtrooms” were. During Moot Court competitions, the competitors do not know which side they will be representing, whether it be for the petitioner (the person appealing the lower court’s decision) or the respondent (the other side, of course!). There are three rounds from which the top 16 teams are chosen. These top teams would then advance to the second day of the competition.

As soon as everyone got their opponents, the competition began. It was a tumultuous time for all. After the last round ended, everyone gathered together in the common area for the final results of which of the 25 teams would be able to advance to the second day of competition as part of the Top 16 teams. We were excited to find out that Austin Taylor (a second-year competitor) and Kristyn Couvillion (a third-year competitor) had made it to the second day!

Moot Court Day 2
By Beatriz Martinez

After a long night of prepping, Kristyn and Austin headed back for the second round of competitions. We all got settled in for the coordinator to let us know who their competitors would be and which side they would have to argue. Of course, Kristyn and Austin used that extra time to get focused and continue their preparation in order to succeed in this next round.

SHSU Moot Court, LEAP Center, UTA, TUMCA

Meanwhile, the rest of us tried our best to help them as much as possible by going on a quick Starbucks run and took the opportunity to explore the University of Arlington as well. UTA just so happened to have similar spirit colors as ours with theirs being blue, orange, and white. They also had various interesting art pieces such as their spirit horses which they have scattered across campus and serve as a way to engage the students in art. There is one in particular that we liked the best (for obvious reasons) named “Dynamic” which we definitely were feeling at the moment. We also took a moment to take a picture with one of the many interesting fountains housed at UTA.

SHSU Moot Court, LEAP Center, UTA, TUMCA

Finally, we headed back to continue to cheer on our team. The results were in and the competitors were ready to accept the challenge ahead. Before the competition started, we took a picture of solidarity between the two teams.

It was a very close round with only a difference of 20 points. Sadly, our team did not advance more than that. As a consolation, we headed on to a Mediterranean Grill called Andalous, which had a variety of plates from different regions. The food was delicious and we greatly enjoyed not only the food but also the multitude of learning experiences we had gotten from the last two days. The SHSU team was more determined than ever to improve and do a lot better in our next competition at Texas A&M Law School on November 4th. For now, everyone was headed back to Huntsville to prepare, except for me since I had a flight to catch to meet the other LEAP Ambassadors in Washington D.C.