Having a Ball in Marfa

Although Chinati makes up a large part of the entertain and educational life of Marfa, there is much more to explore.

One of the sites for exploration is Marfa Ballroom, and it contained several exhibits that left a lasting impression on us.

The first one was an untitled piece by Tara Donovan, and resembled hills made of plastic cups of various sizes. The cups were not connected by anything, so it appears they were all hand placed.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom, Tara Donovan

Upon first glance, it actually looked like styrofoam.  But the true nature of the exhibit was more clear from different angles.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom, Tara Donovan

Intriguingly, much of what we saw looked different depending on the perspective.  This piece, for example….

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

…looks different based on the perspective…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom, Tara Donovan

…and we worked hard to photograph the art from different perspectives.

The second major exhibit was outside in the courtyard, and they were holes of various sizes.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

The exhibit was a bit vague and we all felt that the artist was doing quite a bit of projecting, but the holes were complemented with sound effects and collectively they represented the “deceitful means” (curator’s words) the US Border Patrol uses to “trap” immigrants traveling across the desert.

On a more practical level, we learned the holes were interactive, so Maggie immediately went to work!

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

Back inside the museum, we encountered an intriguing two-piece set.  The first thing we saw was a rather indistinct photograph, which left us wondering if the photographer had full control of her camera’s focusing capacity.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

But then we saw a piece of glass nearby (seen above on the right side and below close up).

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

The “glass” was made from sand melted in the Atacama Desert in Chile, and then it was used to take the photograph above–thus explaining the apparent lack of clarity in the image.

Another interesting piece was VIRUS, or the Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrographs, which was from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment.  It is designed for people to look through at opposite ends and the Spectrograph allows the viewer to see an intriguing composite of their own face and the person’s face that is opposite them in the lens.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

The final piece we got to see was a green, fluorescent light that shined around a one-way mirror in front of a mirror, projecting what seemed like a hallway of green florescent lights. This reminded us all of the light pieces by Flavin we had seen earlier so we all enjoyed it a lot.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Marfa Ballroom

For lunch in Marfa, after touring the Chianti Foundation, we stopped at Squeeze Marfa Swiss Café for sandwiches. It was a neat little shop where the nice lady who took your order seemed to process each order one item at a time….so you might plan on being at the counter for a while.

But the food was worth it, and we all ordered an interesting drink along with our meals. I ordered a Basil Lemonade, Anne tried the Peach Pear Divine smoothie, Peyton had a Belgian Chocolate Frappe, and Professor Yawn ordered a Napoli Italian Soda.

After lunch we continued exploring the little town. We visited the Prisittio Hotel where James Dean, (ect) stayed while they shot one of the greatest western films, The Giant. The hotel has a section filled with pictures of the famous actors on set as well as a very big gift shop area with everything from nice clothes to kitchen accessories. We began back down the block and came across an Andy Warhol exhibit in a closed art exhibit hall… we may or may not have crawled to the ground to peak under the blinds and catch a glimpse of the exhibit (it was worth it).

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Andy Warhol

Marfa is an interesting little town full of quirks…

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas

….more quirks….

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas

…..more quirks….

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas, Andy Warhol

…and lots of small-town charm.

SHSU, LEAP Center, Marfa Texas

 

 

 

Hopping and LEAPing to a Good Time!

Birds were chirping, and the sun was shining. You could practically hear laughter in the air.  It is the time of the year when children all over the US look for a massive scavenger hunt.  And what are they searching for? Well, eggs of course!

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Wynne Home, Easter Egg Hunt,

Easter, along with Christmas and Halloween, is one of the most egg-citing holidays that people of all ages can enjoy. What’s not fun about the opportunity to find candy, toys, and possibly a good egg to crack on someone else’s head?  And in our little town of Huntsville we don’t disappoint.

One of the most anticipated events during the spring semester is the annual Wynne Home Arts Center Easter Egg Hunt. Alina Ward, an SHSU junior and the Wynne Home intern, organized this event, adding a fun little twist to it that cracked everyone up.

Alina prepared for months in advance, and the night before the big event, we gathered together for final preparation.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Wynne Home, Easter Egg Hunt,

The next day, we arrived at the Wynne Home anxious to see what the day had in store for us. We set up our tables, put up signs, and began to hide the eggs around the Wynne home.

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Before we began to welcome families, we decided to imitate the Easter Bunny and take some eggstravagant leaping photos.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Wynne Home, Easter Egg Hunt,

As families began to arrive, we opened up our arts and crafts area, which was a popular destination for them; we had kids decorating plastic eggs and some made cascarones, or confetti eggs, to use later on. The children had many different ideas for decorating their eggs. One child made his egg into an Easter Bunny, while others painted their egg with their favorite colors..

We had about 75 children–and another 100-plus parents–attend this year’s egg hunt, all eager to hunt and play games. One of our more popular games was the donut game: the object of which was to eat a donut off of a string without using hands.

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The game was a lot of fun but created a sticky situation.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Wynne Home, Easter Egg Hunt,

Less sticky, but no less intense, were our sack races, which were also a big hit with the kids rushing and jumping to win!

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All winners received a ticket that earned them a prize from the prize table that was managed by Victoria and Chase.

Before the hunt the Easter Bunny came out to say hello to all of the children. Some kids were excited to see her while others hid behind their parents or cried when she walked by.

The clock showed 11:30 and Alina Ward made the big announcement. The Easter egg hunt was about to begin. We split the kids up by age groups: 0-5, 6-10, and 11 and over. The LEAP Ambassadors helped things and hide about 2,000 eggs for the children to find. Each of the age groups had different locations around the house to search for their eggs; Alina yelled “Start” and all of the kids stormed onto the lawn to find colorfully shiny eggs. The kids were cheerful as they raced to gather as many as possible.

After the hunt, everyone lined up for hot dogs, grilled by Stephanie Fors, our team mom and a continuous supporter of the LEAP Center.  Makayla and Ryan also helped to distribute chips, cookies, and drinks.

Our final event for the afternoon was the breaking of the piñatas.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Wynne Home, Easter Egg Hunt,

We gave each child a chance to hit the piñata three times, and then give others a turn. It wasn’t long before the candy was falling like rain.

After cleaning up, some of the LEAP girls decided to have a mini photo shoot in the beautiful back lawn of the Wynne Home.  This reminded some of us that we have four weeks until graduation and that we would miss being a part of community events like this.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Wynne Home, Easter Egg Hunt,

We would like to thank the Friends of the Wynne and the LEAP Center for their donations, as well as the hard-working volunteers for coming out to help make all of this possible.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Wynne Home, Easter Egg Hunt,

This event is a fun tradition that we hope to see everyone at next year!

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Wynne Home, Easter Egg Hunt,

 

Santa Fe: Mountains and Museums, Skiing and Sculpture

New Mexico’s beauty is unparalleled and unique to that of other states that we have traveled to previously. On our second day in New Mexico, we were still in awe of the adobe houses with their reddish-brown hue and their flat roofs, and we admired them all as we headed to our next destination.

Allan Houser Sculpture Garden by Beatriz Martinez

The Houser Gallery was about an hour south of our hotel, and we left early to make it to our appointed time.  Houser was an incredibly well known native-American sculptor, with pieces featured at the Winter Olympics in Utah and the New Mexico capitol.  We were cheerfully greeted by our tour guide and Allan Houser expert, Sina Brush, who began the tour by telling us Houser’s life story.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

Allan Houser’s family belonged to the Apache tribe, and his grandfather was first cousin to the famous Apache leader, Geronimo. Houser began his education by attending the Indian School for Art with classes taught by Dorothy Dunn. However, during that time period Native Americans were severely discriminated against and the children were only taught what whites viewed as appropriate for Native American artists to learn. Houser thought that this was too constricting and began to explore different artistic styles on his own.

One of our favorite stories dealt with his first sculpture. After World War II he applied for a commission in the Haskell Institute in Kansas.  Knowing absolutely nothing about sculpting stone, he somehow convinced the jury that he was well-practiced in doing so. Shockingly, he did not disappoint! After that success, he became incredibly well-known in the art scene. Three of his main artistic themes seen throughout his 1,000 sculptures he completed during his lifetime are women and children, dancing figures, and action or movement involving animals. He worked with different materials, including Carrara marble; the same marble preferred by Michelangelo.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

His artwork was truly impressive to us, especially because we were invited to touch the pieces!

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

Meandering among the sculptures of animals and representations of members of many different Native American tribes, we were able to truly get a feel for what Allan Haozous Houser wanted to convey to us.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

The emotions that  many of the pieces symbolize may sometimes be abstract, but they showed through nonetheless.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

Whether it be the sculpture named “Prayer” commissioned as a memorial for a young boy or “Sacred Rain Arrow” that depicted an Apache rain ceremony, through work of Houser we were able to discern the different Native American cultures and history that each piece is meant to represent.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

It was such an honor to pay a visit to the Allan Houser Sculpture and catch a glimpse of the 80 sculptures scattered throughout the 50-acre plot of land.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

With a great deal of sadness, we said goodbye to Houser’s works and moved on to our next destination.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

Ski Santa Fe by Beatriz Martinez

We had a drastic change of scenery as we headed away from the Houser Sculpture Garden and into the Santa Fe National Forest. With a base elevation of 10,350 ft. mountain, the ski resort was definitely a new kind of challenge for the Leap Ambassadors. Three of the five Leapsters had never been skiing before, and those who had were still incredibly excited to explore the Santa Fe Mountains.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe

Getting geared up was probably the most time-consuming part as well as having to learn how to ski.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

Thankfully, we discovered that the Professor Yawn’s excellent teaching skills extend beyond the sphere of Political Science and also into the realm of skiing.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

Thanks to his guidance, Victoria, Bianca, and myself were able to start off easily at the bunny slopes. Victoria caught the hang of it surprisingly fast…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

and left to try the bigger slopes while Professor Yawn worked more with the other beginners.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

I can be at times considered the clumsiest among the Leapsters, but today I shocked everyone and was soon also zipping through the trees.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

Meanwhile, Bianca and Christina took it slow, practicing in the Bunny Slope. Karla truly won the Bravery Award because she faced her fear of heights by going on two different ski lifts.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

Everyone enjoyed the fun in the snow…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

…and soon it was time for us to trek back to the car and head over to the New Mexico museum that we had been looking forward to since we first arrived.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum by Christina Perez

After our half day of skiing we headed back into Santa Fe to visit the museum dedicated to one of the most famous women in art.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe was born on November 15th, 1887 in a small town in Wisconsin. Her first pieces of art were simple sketches of her family. She eventually decided that she would trade her small town for a big city, and she moved in 1905 to attend the art institute of Chicago. Her art was first exhibited in New York in 1916 by famous art dealer and photographer Alfred Steglitz, and that’s where it all began. She is now known as one of the most boldly innovative artists of the twentieth century.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Her style, whether it is with flowers, landscapes, and bones, is what set her apart from other artists.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

The LEAP Ambassadors have learned quite a bit about art but Georgia O’Keeffe is usually the first artist whose work they can organize when they begin visiting art museums.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

As we walked through the museum we came across a timeline of events from her life. It was interesting to follow it throughout her life and see what was happening during her lifetime in regards pop culture, art, and politics, while also connecting her to other Museums we have visited.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

It allowed us to compare her life to the lives of other great artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollock. As we walked through the exhibit Professor Yawn mentioned that he enjoyed her art piece called “A Street” which was painted in 1926.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Christina on the other hand liked “Clouds 5” and the study of the painting next to it. It was a painting of clouds seen from an airplane window, but it showed that Georgia O’Keeffe had been inspired by all of the traveling that she did in the 1960’s. As we headed for the gift shop to find a few trinkets, we stopped to snap a couple of photos of our favorite art…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

…then we posed for a photo outside…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

…and then we headed to dinner!

Jambo Café by Christina Perez

For dinner we were able to add another type of food to our trip cuisine! We visited an award winning restaurant in town named Jambo Café. It has been named the best international cuisine by Santa Fe reporters for the past five years, and the owner is Ahmed Obo who first mastered the African cooking style and then decided to open his own restaurant in Santa Fe in 2009. We decided to order multiple appetizers and entrees and share amongst ourselves so that it would be a bit easier for everyone to try new things. We ordered Kenyan style beef kebobs, and combination plates that included goat stew, curry chicken, and Moroccan lamb stew all atop a bed of rice.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Jambo Cafe

During dinner, we discussed all the different types of food we were able to sample thus far on our trip. Included were French, Mediterranean, Mexican, and of course African cuisines. It was difficult for many of us to decide our favorites, but Jambo Café was definitely high on all of our lists!

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe

LEAP Ambassadors Explore Art, History, & Literature in Austin

It’s not often students can take off in the middle of a week, keep up with their assignments and, at the same time, learn a whole lot outside of the classroom.  But that’s exactly what happened with six students who took a two-day LEAP Center trip to Austin.

It may only have been two days, but it was jam-packed with learning, including engagement with Mass Communication, Texas History, Literature, Politics, Management, Art, and even architecture!

Bob Bullock by Chase Kenemmer

            The learning began with the Bullock History Museum, which is an extraordinary history exhibit in the state of Texas, dedicated to the history of Texas, and the progression the state has undergone.  When we first entered the museum the sense of awe swept over the group; we could feel the history come to life as we entered through the giant doorways. The museum was packed with children and adults for a special “Home School” day, as we were corralled through the opening to the first floor. We were greeted by the immense remnants of the French naval ship “la Belle” that sunk as French colonists tried to settle in an uncharted region of Texas.

Flash-forward to the next floor, we see the history come to life as actors described the stories of Mexican President, Santa Anna, flooding the State of Texas with his army, the fall of the Alamo, and the victorious battle of San Jacinto led by General Sam Houston.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Austin, Bob Bullock Museum

As we transition through the rooms, we see the Texas History woven into American History; the Annexation of Texas. There is a brief pause in between the Reconstruction Era and the Modern, we can see the Goddess of Liberty, which sits upon the Texas Capital building to guide her people into the modern era.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Austin, Bob Bullock Museum

We also had a chance to learn more about Sam Houston…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Austin, Bob Bullock Museum

…Reconstruction…SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Austin, Bob Bullock Museum

..and even had a chance to see some cowboy roping take place!

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Austin, Bob Bullock Museum

Interview with Stephen Harrigan by Chase Kenemmer

It’s not every day a Sam Houston student gets to help interview a famous Texan author, but today Beatriz and I both took time out to help Professor Yawn and Michael Foster interview and film author Stephen Harrigan.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Austin TX, ATX, Stephen Harrigan

Professor Yawn talked with Mr. Harrigan, while Beatriz and I worked with Mr. Michael Foster, the Sam Houston’s Video Producer, to fix the lighting and block out the green dull light. He showed us that putting a thin blue cover over the light will naturally even the lighting to what we needed. We helped put the mic on Mr. Harrigan, and the interview began.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Austin TX, ATX, Stephen Harrigan

The interview lasted about an hour long and we learned interesting things about Mr. Harrigan’s new work, some interesting history facts, and what we can expect at Sam Houston’s Honors College event “Let’s Talk”; where Mr. Harrigan will sit and talk about his work as an author and screenplay writer. Towards the end of the interview, we discussed the exciting process of writing a book, and the skills it takes to become a writer.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Austin TX, ATX, Stephen Harrigan

Both Beatriz and I learned that it takes a special skill to record and produce videos, as well as writing and publishing books.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Austin TX, ATX, Stephen Harrigan

New World Deli Lunch by Christina Perez

Before heading to the students favorite Austin art gallery, we headed over to grab a quick lunch. They decided to try Stephanie’s suggestion of New World Deli. The deli was in the heart of the city. Open since 1997, the cozy family owned restaurant is known for its excellent soups, sandwiches, and salads.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Austin TX, ATX, New World Deli

They ordered some of the house favorites like their “Award Winning” Reuben and their broccoli cheese and tomato basil soups. The restaurant had a lot of different art on the wall and opened conversation about art appreciation. This made us excited for the next part of our day!

Daniel Arredondo Studio and the Shoal Creek Gallery by Sawyer Massie

After lunch, we all hurried into the front lobby of the Shoals Creek Art Gallery to escape the brisk winter breeze. Immediately, the famous pieces by James Surls gallantly presented themselves on three of the four walls of the room.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, James Surls

While marveling at the beautiful displays of modernist artistry could have taken all of our allotted time, Professor Yawn eagerly escorted us to the studio of Mr. Daniel Arredondo.  We stared in admiration at the entire walls and floors that were lined with painted cigar boxes and impressionist landscapes on canvas. Mr. Arredondo recognized Professor Yawn and his face lit up as he excitedly greeted every newcomer as a friend.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Daniel Arredondo Art

Most of our time was spent learning about Mr. Arredondo’s latest works and about his previous career as an assembly-line worker for IBM. He explained that many of his works that involved trees with visible roots beneath the horizon represented people and their deepest secrets.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Daniel Arredondo Art

One thing that remained constant, however, was his enthusiastic and wholesome outlook on life and work. Many of us left his studio with gifts that he painted because, “anyone who comes to my studio and listens to me talk shouldn’t leave empty-handed.”

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Daniel Arredondo Art

With smiles on our faces and beautiful works of art in hand, we continued on our tour of the rest of the gallery. This took us to an exhibit on Lorena Morales, a Houston based artist which included the intricate translucent pipe sculptures of varying shapes and colors. Some pieces included a row of piping hung on the wall while others were stood alone and rested on the ground. Most interesting, however, was the message of perspective behind these works and how standing in a certain place could change the entire aesthetic of the piece. In the back of the gallery was a smaller exhibit that included colorful pieces of varying art styles and artists.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors

There, we observed all of the motifs and styles of the different artists and discussed what we enjoyed about each piece. It is safe to say that each of us left with a newer appreciation of art and expression.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Daniel Arredondo Art

Harry Ransom Center and James Turrell Skyspace by Christina

            We made a quick stop was to see the Gutenberg Bible at the Harry Ransom Center. One of the first printed books, there are only around 40 existing today in the entire United States. It was impressive to learn that we had one in Texas and so close to Huntsville. We accidentally continued the art motif after by getting glitter coffee…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors

…before heading over to the James Turrell Skyspace. The University of Texas at Austin has one the twelve Skyspaces open to visitors in the United States. The LEAP Ambassadors have visited about five Sky Spaces all together, but this time we brought some new friends along. As they walked into the Skyspace we could see the glowing faces of the first timers when they looked up at “The Color Inside.”  Tyara and Ilexus had never been to a Skyspace so this was a sure treat for them! “It was an eye-opening experience,” said Ilexus. The colors shifted from blues to grays and from pinks and purples.

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It is always very relaxing to sit through the show and wait for the sun to set completely. They were glad that their new friends enjoyed the experience and were happy to learn about a new type of art.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, James Turrell, UT Skyspace

Habesha Ethiopian Dinner by Beatriz

            As our last outing we went to go eat Ethiopian food in a restaurant. It was not a regular meal. Since most of us had not tried Ethiopian food, we ordered the Habesha Special Meat Combination Platter, that came with assorted meats to try.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Habesha, Ethiopian Food

Although different than the regular cheeseburger and the use of injera bread as a utensil instead of a spoon or fork. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, especially when dessert time came around and “exotic” vanilla ice cream, tiramisu, and baklava. With special end, we headed back to our hotel, looking forward to getting a tour at the Capitol tomorrow.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, James Turrell, Skyspace, UT Austin