Hole in the Clouds
Sep 5, 2009
Avram Dimitrscu's father was a musician in a Romanian concert band, behind the Iron Curtain. In the 1970s, the band toured western Europe, including the Channel Islands, where Avram's mother, a native of Belfast, Northern Island, was working at a resort hotel. They fell in love, and when it came time for the band to return to Romania, she helped him hide and eventually defect.. Avram was born on the Isle of Jersey and raised in Belfast. His parents ran a catering business until the 1990s, when travel to Romania became possible. Then they bought a truck and began operating a charity, collecting donations of food, clothing, and everything else, and driving all the way across Europe every month or so to deliver the contributions to Romanians in need.
Avram grew up during the troubles in Northern Ireland, in a Catholic part of town, and enrolled as an art student at the University of Belfast. He worked at a McDonald's near campus during the school year but spent his summers abroad, in Maine, where he worked as a camp counselor at a boys' camp. It was there that he met fellow-counselor John Stein. Avram and John traveled together, and Avram spent time in Alabama with all the Steins--always with his sketchbook in hand. Eventually, he married an American woman and moved to the town of Alpine, in the Big Bend area of extreme west Texas. He paints, illustrates, teaches art, runs the Dimitrescu Gallery, and surely still keeps his sketchbook close at hand.
This is his "Tiny Chicken #8."
(Image credit: Avram Dimitrescu
Oct 4, 2009
Several of you asked to see more work by our Romanian Northern Irish West Texas friend Avram Dimitrescu. He calls this acrylic painting "Longhorn and Mountains."
(Image credit: Avram Dimitrescu)
For many more images, see Avram's blog and his portfolio website. He doesn't just paint chickens and cows, though I might be satisfied if he did; he's also got paintings and drawings of landscapes, buildings, vehicles, food, and the digging arm of an excavating machine.
Mar 14, 2010
We've seen the work of Avram Dumitrescu before--his tiny chicken, his staring steer--but this painting is different. Here, in "Front Street Books," he shows a scene that is arguably unremarkable: a woman is settled into an armchair in a bookstore, with a cat curled up on a rug near the magazine shelves. What I like about this painting is that the bookstore is in Texas--rural west Texas, in fact, in the tiny town of Alpine. Paintings of Texas are supposed to show cowboy boots and pickup trucks and longhorn skulls in the sun, next to broken-down oil derricks. Avram's painted a little of that, and seeing as how he's a foreigner transplanted into west Texas, we might forgive him for painting a lot of that.
But here he's showing us a mild-mannered bookstore scene in Texas, and it's every bit as real, as true, as all the redneck stuff. I'm thinking that Republicans would fume: This scene doesn't show the real Texas. But what can I say? Texas is a big, messy, complicated place, and those Republicans are just wrong, as always.
The cat's name is Frisky-Sweets. Avram notes that she posed for him "very reluctantly."
(Image credit: Avram Dumitrescu)
May 7, 2011
Not all of these menhaden are going to escape from the big bird–but then again, some of them will live to swim another day. Or if not another day, maybe at least till lunchtime?
The bird is a female least bittern, and she was fishing last week in Horsepen Bayou, near Pasadena, Texas.
(Image credit: Gary Seloff)
Jan 26, 2012
A Terlingua Sunset, by Lindy Cook Severns.
Terlingua encompasses thousands of acres of sparsely settled desert country along the Rio Grande in far west Texas, between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park. There's cinnabar ore in those mountains, enough to support profitable mercury mines a hundred years ago, but nowadays the only mercury miners left are the ones in the Terlingua cemetery.
Many of today's Terlinguans live more or less off the grid; land is inexpensive, but bringing in electricity costs something like $10,000 per pole. The landowners are only lightly supervised by local government, but like big-city condo owners they are regulated by an owners' association, which employs a full-time staff to maintain community wells and roads and to operate an income-generating campground and lodge.
Vanessa Boyd, director of the landowners' organization, which is known as Terlingua Ranch, is a musician as well as a land manager. She just released a new album last week, which incorporates songs she composed in preparation for a 2010 concert tour to Nepal.
(Image credit: Lindy Cook Severns)
Feb 22, 2012
Members of the Canadian Snowbirds Association gathered last month for "Fish Fest" at an RV park in Llano Grande, Texas.
Canadian Snowbirds winter mostly in Florida, south Texas, and Arizona. Along the west coast of Florida, Canadians are so numerous in the wintertime that the St. Petersburg Times devotes a couple of pages to news from around Canada. The Snowbirds Association operates a website for Canadians considering buying real estate in the Sunbelt, but mostly it's a social organization
Canadian Snowbirds Association
Mar 31, 2012
The mountain moonscape of Terlingua, Texas, illuminated (ever so slightly) by the moon at noon.
(Image credit: Ted Stein)
Nov 22, 2013
Since it's November 22, our picture today is from Dallas, Texas. But so far as we know–and we believe we know far enough–it shows us nothing that adds anything whatsoever to our understanding of what happened in Dallas back then. It's just kind of a nice wall.
(Image credit: Jim Radcliffe)
May 28, 2014
It's springtime, and the cactus flowers are seriously blooming in San Antonio, but don't even think about trying to sneak into the Alamo by climbing through the little window visible here.
(Image credit: Carolyn Duffy)
Jun 22, 2014
The grass grows tall here, deep in the water of White Rock Lake, East Dallas, Texas.
Even if you don't see any snakes in the picture, there's something about this place that looks potentially very snakey. They could be hiding hereabouts.
White Rock Lake
(Image credit: Pix19)
Apr 29, 2015
(This is a guest post by Ted, the third in a series of three posts from Houston, Texas.)
When Hole in the Clouds sent me to Houston as a travel correspondent, the timing couldn't have been more perfect; my business associate Robert Fox happened to be getting married in Houston that very same weekend.
The wedding chapter of Rob and Shawna's story begins back in the winter of 2013, at the NASA Johnson Space Center. The two of them had flown from their home in D.C. to Texas, to spend some time with Shawna's parents. Unbeknownst to Shawna, Rob had been carrying a ring around in his pocket for the past few days.
At the space center, Shawna found a cool rocket and set up her camera on a timer, the way tourists do. But when she came back to pose for the snapshot, Rob dropped to his knee. The surprise on her face in the picture above was genuine.
This past Saturday they were married in Texas, in a wedding with a theme. The theme was brunch.
Shawna is a senior producer for NBC's Meet the Press, and there were lots of Washington media types at the wedding, including some of NBC's White House producers. This is how they party:
To help the media types feel at home during the moments between their tweets and e-mails, there was a newspaper for them to read, The Brunch In Love Dispatch (Hot Topic: "Washington, DC, Couple Weds in Texas"), with little NBC logos on each page.
The proposal was in Texas. The wedding was in Texas. According to the Brunch In Love Dispatch, the bride is "a Texas girl with the tattoo to prove it."
And yes, the bride wore cowgirl boots.
(Image credits, top to bottom: Shawna Thomas, Ellen Van de Mark, lil phone)