Sunday, September 29, 2013


A few years ago an opportunity made itself known to me to participate in Blanco's "Lavender Festival." A fine art show was attached to the festival and I had been invited to show my work there. The Lavender Festival is usually scheduled for the first weekend in June and is a veritable smorgasbord of lavender-based creations– pastries, candies, sachets, paintings, even wine– any and all things created, with lavender as the common ingredient.

There were crowds of folks as I showed my art that weekend, and Blanco's town square was ebullient. The show was fairly successful for me, and the pieces I displayed were enjoyed and appreciated by many, even those not buying. During a fairly quiet moment in my booth, however, an older lady scrutinized my work but said nothing for quite some time. Finally, she broke the uncomfortable silence: "Hmmmmm...I really like your work, BUT..."

I walked up to her and tried to understand her intentions: "Yes, can I help you? I heard a 'BUT.' Is there a problem?" She responded: "Yes, there IS a problem. I love your work, Bill...BUT...where are your LAVENDER PHOTOGRAPHS?"

With some trepidation, I tried to respond: "Yeah, yeah, I know...this is a 'Lavender Festival' and I have no photographs of lavender. I'd like to have some, but I've never had the opportunity to take any."

"Well, I'll tell you what...I've got a small, private lavender farm just outside of downtown. Here are the security codes to both of the gates that will let you in. Come anytime you'd like and take some photographs. You needn't stop and ask first, or even call ahead. But take some lavender photographs...PLEASE!"

LAVENDER SHADOWS, © Bill Brockmeier, all rights reserved by the artist
About a week later, I and a photographer friend who had recently moved to the Blanco area took up Alice Coverly on her more than generous offer and sought out her farm. The security codes worked as advertised and we soon found ourselves alone and surrounded by her five or so acres of lavender bushes. The light breeze was heavy with the perfume, and the shadows were already lengthening with the sun dropping toward the horizon.

The place seemed an astounding fusion of French Provence and Texas Hill Country– the smell and color of France and the vistas of the Hill Country. Perhaps South Texas is not really that far from southeastern France after all.

The next June at the following "Lavender Festival" I was again showing my work to those seeking lavender in Blanco. This time I was heavily armed with my own lavender offerings. The image you see here– LAVENDER SHADOWS (a very limited edition of only 12 on large canvas)– was made as the sun nearly kissed the horizon. Some of the lush, blooming plants had already been immersed in shadow while others were still in the blaze of sunlight.

As I have shown the two photographs from this series, many have made it plain to me that they believe the photographs are paintings. I've tried to assure them that "No, these are not paintings, but photographs." Some have remained unconvinced, and swear that I must have at least applied some little dabs of paint to some of the blooms to make them stand out and appear 3D. Although I use no digital enhancement to the colors or otherwise, they still find it difficult to believe these are simply straight photographs.

Thanks to a friend of the arts, and a lover of lavender, I was able to make some memorable images of this wonderful plant. Thank you, Alice!

This photograph is available in a Very Limited Edition of only twelve copies. The full, framed size is 19 by 62 inches.    Call now to reserve yours— 210-241-6132.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Good To Be Alive

It was a spectacular and glorious day in La Villita: the deep emerald leaves of live oaks still basked in the moisture of recent rains, the little centuries-old houses huddled in this unique little neighborhood, and the sapphire sky-vault stretched out above. A breeze occasionally wafted through the courtyard before us, enticing our skin with the coolness promised by autumn.  Even a die-hard fan of South Texas summers like myself revels in the first cool days of September.

Photographs hanging on the front of the San Martin House in La Villita
La Villita ("The Little Village") neighborhood is wonderful in so many little ways: its tight proximity to the Riverwalk community, the authentic historic architecture, the art-aware ambiance, and much more. But what most draws my own affection are the people whom I encounter in La Villita: both those working there and the ones who choose to enjoy its treasures for just a day. In the presence of good company and lively conversation what more could one want? And yet, the day had plenty more. Surrounded by all these blessings it didn't even seem to matter whether the day ahead would be one of record-setting sales for me or none at all.

The San Martin House in July 1939,
when the house was a mere 200 yrs. old
Every once in a while I remember, yet again, that it doesn't matter so much what my own peculiar agenda for the day might be, but the importance of the day, and of life, is in appreciating the thousand simple blessings that permeate each of my hours– each minute, in fact. It can be good to be alive, especially so if we don't just "get by" and survive through it but learn to fully live in it, even in the midst of simply surviving. Gratitude for the amazing gift that life truly is can make our time here, short though it is, filled with meaning and significance. 

As the sun rises, or the moon sets, enjoy the wonder of what surrounds you and thank Him Who gave it all. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Celebrate Art In Her Garden

© 2007, Bill Brockmeier,
all rights reserved by the artist
You never know where opportunities may come from. I was recently the beneficiary of such when an acquaintance I hadn't spoken with in years unexpectedly contacted me. Sherry Disdier, bonsai artist and long time proprietor of the Bonsai Arbor, emailed me about the possibility of my participating in a La Villita photographic exhibit scheduled to synchronize with Fotoseptiembre USA®, International Photography Festival. Since I had no other shows scheduled for my work during the month of September, I jumped at the chance.

I first met Sherry several years ago when she graciously consented to be one of my subjects in a project I was pursuing at the time that I called a "Celebration of Art in the Garden" (incidentally, this project as well became a Fotoseptiembre® exhibition). This series of panoramic portraits explored the pursuit of arts– in its widely divergent manifestations– in the context of gardens (in their own widely divergent manifestations as well). My portrait of Sherry was a vertically oriented panorama that focused on a relative closeup of Sherry's hands as she worked on a bonsai in her backyard "garden studio." While most of my other photographs in the series merely used a garden as the setting for the pursuit of some otherwise out-of-context artistry, Sherry's art was intrinsically and intimately woven into the very substance of the garden around her. I was blessed to have such a significant and deeply relevant subject for my series.

Sherry's Bonsai Arbor is one of, if not perhaps THE, longest art tenant of San Antonio's oldest art district, "La Villita." She has offered her simply amazing bonsai works, and other art objects, in her La Villita shop for the most of three decades in the historic San Martin/Herrera House #5 along Guadalupe Walk. This coming Sunday (September 22) I will be presenting there one of the largest groupings of my work that I have shown publicly in quite some time. The works I will be showing are nearly all produced in large scale on archival canvas, and whose subjects range from the timeless San Antonio Missions, to the lavender fields of Blanco Texas, to trees of the Hill Country, and beyond.

The Bonsai Arbor is located at 418 Villita Street, Suite 500, near downtown San Antonio (78205). The shop is very near the corner of Villita and South Presa Street (convenient parking is just across South Presa, less than 100 feet away!). The full hours of the show will be about 10am to about 6pm with an "open house" from 12 noon til 4pm. Please check the map for detailed directions.

The La Villita neighborhood itself is an amazing amalgamation of people, art, architecture, history, events, and so much more. Read about its fascinating history.

Come down to La Villita this Sunday and see me and my art...and enjoy the ambiance of one of the unique neighborhoods of San Antonio. And while you're at it, you can try a sample of my "2012 Faccia Del Sole," Hatch chile sherry— while it lasts. This wine that I produced last year is just beginning to come into maturity and is more than I ever imagined it would be. I'll see you there...