The Artist Dates: Beckendorf Gallery

Over the next four weeks, I’m writing about the artist dates I did in July for that dang Julia Cameron.

Aren’t artist dates supposed to be two hours? Well, my visit to the Charles Beckendorf Gallery lasted 15 minutes.

It wasn’t a large gallery, so I looked at everything. Beckendorf paints a lot of animals, and I liked the ones that seemed to look you in the eye. I really liked one watercolor, laying haphazardly on a table, of a cotton field. I thought about buying it for my dad, who grew up on a cotton farm in West Texas.

There was a woman minding the store, and she was chatty. We talked about the recent rain. Neither of us could get over the fact that it was raining in July in Texas. We talked about the drought, which isn’t over, despite the fact that we’ve had 15 more inches of rain than we had this time last year. But the aquifers still haven’t recharged.

The woman used the word “drouth,” which I was only recently reminded of in John Burnett’s NPR piece on the Texas drought of the 1950s. In fact, when I wrote about the drought last year, I had to use a dictionary because I thought the proper spelling was actually “drouth.” That’s how all my West Texas relatives pronounce it.

The rain in July? I can’t stop thinking about it. While the woman and I visited, the sky turned dark gray, and there was lightning. A few minutes later, it “commenced to raining pretty good,” as she said.

When I got home, my dad emailed me and said that his father only managed to get six good cotton crops in 68 years. And I wondered something: If I had looked closer at Beckendorf’s watercolor of a cotton farm, would I have known what kind of a year that farmer was having?


  1. So…are you saying maybe 15 minutes isn’t quite enough time to really look at something? Generally, that’s been my experience. But my restless nature often takes me wandering even sooner than 15 minutes! I do thank God, however, for written legends in galleries – those keep my dang left brain engaged enough for me to stand and really look a little better. Sigh.

  2. I’m one of those people who can breeze through a gallery or museum in no time flat, while my very observant husband is still back in the first aisle. He sees so much more than I do, and I feel rather shallow. So fifteen minutes seems fine to me!

  3. 6 out of 68 is tough going…

  4. Oh, this is going to be fun peeking in on your artist’s dates :). I’ve never heard that word–drouth. And now I’m wondering about that farmer too.

  5. Maybe you need to take another trip to that gallery. 😉