Arts make Seguin a great place to call home

Heritage Museum, October 16, 2010


By Bob Grafe

The Gazette-Enterprise

Published October 21, 2010

So, just how lucky are we who live within or in near proximity to the city of Seguin?

If “Gwaihir: The Lord of Eagles, Master of Wind” had been in a talkative mood this past Saturday night, I’m sure he would have showered the 400-plus visitors gently traversing the aisles of Seguin’s Heritage Museum with that special knowledge that “we who so live,” nearby and together, are indeed very lucky.

The gathering at the Heritage marked the opening of artistic sculptor, and local Seguin resident, Marika Bordes’ art exhibit “Visions in Wood.”

Although somewhat dominated by the 15-foot presence of the uniquely impressive “Gwaihir,” the fascinating exhibit, of both Bordes’ work and that of her students, also included (adding to the totality of the evening’s experience) written appendages by heartfelt poetic locals who were asked to provide their “view” of a particular work of wood.

Upon entering the Heritage Museum, I was immediately thrilled at the attendance. As I wondered carefully throughout the two-stories of Marika’s and other museum exhibits, I couldn’t help but overhear the mostly joyful chatter among those in attendance. “Isn’t that beautiful.” Or “How did she (or other sculptors) do that?” Or, perhaps the most common, “Wow!”

Oh, there were a few there who reduced their conversations to the current mind-numbing political chatter. But, the vast majority in attendance, whether young, old, or somewhere in the middle seemed to be caught up in the moment where there truly was a celebratory atmosphere.

Underlying the obvious, that of the beauty of the exhibit which initially attracted this totally eclectic group in the first place, was the unstated but widely felt recognition that we were very lucky to live in a community where the arts are recognized for the contribution they continue to make to a joyful life … that the arts, here, are so much a part of our community.

As a venue for “Visions in Wood,” the Heritage Museum is perfect. Where else is the historic connective tissue so prevalent than at a central community location where one can come to reflect upon the past and present while keeping a directive eye on the future? John Gesick, the Heritage Museum director, seems to effortlessly make miracles happen within the museum’s walls … often from backstage.

With the combined genius of John Gesick and Marika Bordes working on behalf of our community’s heritage and artistic health, we are truly blessed.

While it seemed as if there was a majestic symphony in progress throughout the Heritage Museum during last Saturday night’s “opening,” it may have only been the notes of anticipation being subliminally heard in anticipation of Mid-Texas Symphony’s December presentation of The Messiah at Jackson Auditorium on the grounds of Texas Lutheran University.

Just imagine that! A very professional and talented symphony orchestra right here in “River City” playing to packed audiences in wonderfully designed performance facilities at our very own highly ranked Texas Lutheran University. How fortunate can we get?

Local film maker Chris Elley brought recognition to the Seguin arts’ scene with his movie production of “Barbecue: A Texas Love Story” and, certainly helped to put our very own Texas Theatre in the spotlight a few years ago by helping the local Conservation Society’s efforts to restore that theatre masterpiece into a lasting remembrance of the past while providing untold artistic performance opportunities for many generations to come.

The myriad of published authors within Seguin and the surrounding community is both diversified and voluminous. From the likes of Janice Woods Windle and her “True Women” book of excellence, to Charlie Eckhart and his wide collection of cowboy and “old West” books and other writings, to a recent 2010 release of local resident Jim Porter’s book “Two Old Geezer Golfers.” Again, how much better do the artistic talents get here?

Of course, any mention of “the arts” in our community would be incomplete without the efforts of various performing arts groups throughout the years. The huge success of Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite” recently produced by the original Seguin Art Center and performed at the Mosaic Church facility in dinner theater format is a testament of the excellence in performance that seems to be pervasive within our community.

And, finally, rumor on “the street” predicts an encore performance of the courtroom scene from “To Kill A Mockingbird” to be performed soon at a Guadalupe County Courthouse near you, on the third floor, with many of the original cast members on the docket. You’ll have to stay tuned for more information about this upcoming local artistic classic.

It’s no wonder why so many good people are considering the Seguin community as a travel destination or as a future “home.”

We are so lucky. There is so much more to our community… but, the arts contribute so much!

Bob Grafe is a former managing editor of the Seguin Gazette Enterprise and a former chief juvenile probation officer for Guadalupe County.


Exhibit draws crowds

Seeing Gwaihir for the First Time

By Bob Thaxton

The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise


Published October 19, 2010

SEGUIN — A crowd estimated at 400 to 450 people turned out Saturday evening for the opening of “Visions of Wood” at the Heritage Museum in downtown Seguin.

The exhibit features wood sculptures done by local artist Marika Bordes and her students. “Visions in Wood” will continue through the end of the year at the Heritage Museum which is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday at the corner of River and Gonzales streets.

The exhibit is dominated by “Gwaihir: The Lord of Eagles, Master of Wind” which stands more than 15 feet tall and stretches up through a stairwell into the second floor of the museum.

“Gwaihir is here because of the generosity of a good friend,” Bordes said, referring to John Schwartz whose chinaberry tree became the raw material for the superhuman-sized sculpture.

During a visit to the Schwartz ranch, she saw a big tree that had fallen to the ground.

“I looked at it, and I thought it was interesting,” Bordes said.

She had done a sculpture of chinaberry wood commissioned for the Schwartzes 50th anniversary, and John urged her to go to work on the fallen tree.

“It challenged me,” Bordes said. Some nine or 10 months ago, she began working on the tree.

“He gave me space at his ranch,” she said. “That’s when I started working on it.”

At first, she worked on the tree where it had fallen. Schwartz had fenced in the area to keep the cattle away from it, and he later moved the piece into a barn on his property.

“He’s been very kind with us,” Bordes said.

As the work progressed, she brought out some of her students to help sand the wood.

When asked why she wanted them to participate, Bordes told of her sculpture teacher having her assist on a large project.

“I don’t want you to be afraid of any big project,” she said her teacher told her.

Bordes was amazed at the turnout Saturday. “I thought it was wonderful. I was not expecting all that,” she said Monday.

She noted that those attending included people from San Antonio, Austin, Kerrville, Blanco and elsewhere.

“For once, they can see what is happening in Seguin, what is happening in my studio,” Bordes said. “What I really wanted to show was the talent there is in Seguin. There is a lot of potential here.”


Sculpture exhibit to open Saturday at Heritage Museum

Pictured is one of sculptress Marika Bordes’ sculptures that will be on display at the Seguin Heritage Museum this weekend. Each sculpture also includes reflections on the piece by community members. Below is Audra Schulz’s reflections on the pictured piece.

Seguin Daily News October 15, 2010

Child of Mine
By Audra Schulz
Personally, I don’t remember ever inciting such a reaction in my mother. I cannot imagine an enterprise of my childhood creation stirring such frustration in 
Marika! Surely your inspiration is an exaggeration!
A child of free spirit myself, I am quite certain that if one ever did see my mother in this pose they most certainly mistook exasperation for revelation. Revelation that she had bore a child of such resourcefulness that she felt swept away with the pride of it!
Marika, this is your true inspiration, isn’t it? Pride that overtakes your heart upon the vision of her! Pride that you took part in the creation of someone who can make you all at once infuriated and swollen with delight at your accomplishment!
So this is motherhood; brief, relishing, rewarding, wrenching. Then comes the time when mothers return to their own childhood tendencies, and daughters in turn throw back their heads with irritation. “Mother, did you really just say that?!”
By Jessica Domel
(Seguin) — A local sculptress and her students will prove that seeing truly is believing this weekend at the Seguin Heritage Museum. Saturday the museum will officially unveil the sculpture exhibition of Marika Bordes and her students with an opening reception for the show “Visions in Wood: Marika and Her Students.” The theme of the show is “Art in Seguin… Seeing is Believing.”
In addition to the works of art, Bordes says her sculptures will also include commentary and reflections by community members.
“As the artist, I carve a story, but as soon as the sculpture is finished, it does not belong to me anymore. Everyone has an interpretation. Everyone sees something with it,” said Bordes. “Most of the time I look at people looking at my sculptures, and they go deep down into themselves. It’s not exactly my story, but it is their story and that’s what it is important.”
Museum Director John Gesick says the museum will be filled with over 30 sculptures from Bordes and her talented students.
“Of course the main attraction is already in place. He’s stand on the floor of the hand-drawn elevator on the first floor. He’s 14-feet tall, beautifully-done, just magnificent, and we have “special railings that we put around the opening upstairs so that people can’t fall through, but they can look from the top to the bottom. His head’s almost kind-of sticking up on the second floor,” said Gesick. “It’s just a massive undertaking by Marika.”
The Heritage Museum chose to host the sculpture exhibit, according to Gesick, because art also plays an important role in the history and culture of a people.
“When I look at the history of museums and the programs that museums have – whether they’re small communities such as us or the larger ones – there’s a confluence, there’s a coming together of art. That’s a big part of our history here in America and the world as well as artifacts from Stone Age peoples, indigenous peoples all the way through Industrial and the Technological age. So we felt that this was a great fit,” said Gesick. “Marika and I were just talking for one day and she was looking for a place, and I said, ‘Why not the museum?’ and this worked out beautifully.”
The free reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Seguin Heritage Museum, which is located at 114 N. River St. just a block north of the Guadalupe County Courthouse.

Visions in Wood: Marika and Her Students Sculpture Exhibition


Art in Seguin...Seeing Is Believing


Heritage Museum is Venue for Special Evening of Art, Oct. 16

Volunteers working on the Seeing is Believing: Visions in Wood sculpture exhibit gathered at a recent planning meeting. The event is being held on Saturday, Oct. 16 from 6-8 p.m. Those with tickets to the Child Advocacy Center Fundraiser are invited to a sneak preview of the event from 5-6 p.m. that evening. There is no charge for the event, with donations supporting the Heritage Museum which is hosting the exhibit through Jan. 5.

By Mary Jo Filip, Main Street Program Director

(Seguin) — When Marika Bordes puts her mind to something, everyone should get in line and help her on her way. A while ago, John Gesick with the Heritage Museum suggested she might consider holding a show of her sculptures there. Taking his suggestion to heart, she envisioned a dramatic art event that would make the people of Seguin, and visitors, stand a little taller and think a little grander about the art we have here, the artists who create it, and the importance art has for our community. She didn’t want just a typical event. She wanted it to be special, so those who attended would leave excited, spread the word, and tell their friends they must go to the Heritage Museum to see this exhibit.

To help her meet her goal she assembled a committee of 11 people, each of whom was tasked with assisting in setting the stage for the event which will be held Saturday, Oct. 16 from 6-8 p.m. * Exhibit committee members were tasked with organizing publicity, the reception, staging for the exhibits, and organization. The committee includes Hil Starcke, Patt Linden, Barry Duncan, Dennis Martin, Roger Betschler, Lynn Pfullmann, Donna Dodgen,

Audra Schulz, Bob Gardner and myself. John Gesick works with the committee to ensure smooth interaction with the Heritage Museum.

The evening is called “Art in Seguin…Seeing is Believing”, with the title of the exhibit: Visions in Wood: Marika and Her Students. Over thirty sculptures by Marika and ten of her students will be on display. The crowning event of the evening will be the unveiling of a 14-foot tall breath-taking wood sculpture of “Gwaihir” that Bordes created and brought to life with assistance of her students and friends. The inspiration for the sculpture comes from Gwaihir, an immense eagle from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth who helped Gandalf escape and snatches Frodo and Sam from certain doom in the Lord of the Rings.

Adding another artistic element to the evening, Bordes asked people from the local community to write poems or impressions of the sculptures. These pieces, written by Mayor Betty Ann Matthies, Darren Dunn, Whitney Bischoff, Evelyn Streng, Patt Linden,Jean-Marie Ngendahayo, Michelle Rumbaut, Nancy Masterson, Jack Linden, Marie Jo Billnitzer, Beth Raetzsch, Michael Saenz, John Upper, Barbra Upper, Janice Turk, Cindy Aguirre, Ana Maria Gonzalez, and yours truly, will be displayed along with each of the statues.

Patrons of the evening will be greeted outdoors by the gentle sounds of a djembe drum. Inside, live string music will be performed, with hors d’oeuvres and wine available while strolling the two floors of the museum to observe the art.

The event is free and open to the public. Donations are welcome both from those wishing to help sponsor the event and those attending. Proceeds benefit the Heritage Museum. For more information contact Dennis Martin at 560-6852 or John Gesick at 372-0965.

*A sneak preview for those with tickets to the fund raiser comedy show for the Child Advocacy Center being held that same evening is being held from 5-6 p.m.


From the Seguin Daily News

September 27, 2010




The Story of Marika and a Small Texas Town

The Holidays: Central Park, Seguin, TX

The Story of Marika and a Small Texas Town

A woman from Haiti by taking mallet and chisel to wood, and a small town are writing a Texas story.  Five years ago, Marika arrives in Seguin with her tools, wood, and sculptures.  Something beautiful happens.

Folks meet her and soon thereafter she is speaking before civic organizations and church groups;

The Seguin Main Street Program appoints her to the Advisory Board;

Texas Lutheran University hosts a solo exhibition;

For the new maternity wing, The Guadalupe Regional Medical Center commissions a sculpture;

The Seguin Oakwood Art League sponsors the Haiti Benefit Art Auction “in honor of sculptor, friend, and member Marika Bordes;”  and

The Seguin Heritage Museum schedules a three-month exhibition for Marika and her students for Fall 2010.

Her love for sculpting and the desire to share this life-changing passion places her before diverse audiences:  Rotary International, The Shakespeare Study Club,  Zonta International, Wesley-Harper Vacation Bible School and other venues.  The topics vary.  Always, the theme is the importance to both the individual and the community of hard work, discipline and the creativity within us.

Shortly after joining the Main Street Advisory Board, Marika accepts the mandate to develop a plan for promoting and supporting the arts in Seguin.  Though her efforts and others, the City of Seguin now has an Arts Commission.

Marika’s passion for sculpture and giving to others shines through when she teaches sculpting.  The artist wants the story to continue.  A story that begins with the carvers of Africa, then to the carvers of Haiti, and now to the carvers of Seguin.  In a small Texas town, from the rising of the sun, until the rising of the moon, mallet and chisel ring out against the intrinsic beauty of wood.


Auction draws art lovers to support Haiti

By Felicia Frazar
The Gazette-Enterprise

Published February 16, 2010

Area art connoisseurs opened their hearts and their wallets to honor a local sculptor and her country.

In the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the country of Haiti — and in honor of local artist Marika Bordes’ Haitian roots — the Seguin Oakwood Art League decided to host an art auction benefit on Saturday at the Silver Center.

Artists from the area and beyond brought in some of their collected pieces or their own works of art to be sold through a live or silent auction, said Jeanne Palmer, Seguin Oakwood Art League president.

“We got donations from artists from San Antonio to Austin and a majority of the donations were from artist in the Seguin Area,” Palmer said. “People were just really outpouring. They just really embraced what we were doing.”

Along with the auctions, donation jars were placed throughout the room to generate more funds for the cause.

“Some people don’t really want to bring something else home, but they want to donate,” she said. “A little less than $500 came from the jars.”

All three forms of collection brought in nearly $10,000 to be distributed to three organizations — American Red Cross, Save The Children and Doctors Without Borders, Palmer said.

“The total funds that we have in our hand is $9,747, with the incoming funds it’s going to be over $9,800. It would not surprise me if we hit that $10,000 by the time all of the funds are in,” she said. “The majority of the funds are going to Red Cross, then Doctors Without Borders and then to Save The Children.”

Purchasers were given the opportunity to choose which charity their donation would benefit, said Dennis Martin.

“We were trying to come up with three organizations that everyone knows about and Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders both have offices in Haiti and I am sure the American Red Cross has one, as well,” he said.

Martha Swanson, artist, said she came out to support the cause and had donated some artwork to be sold.

“I think it’s a good thing,” she said. “We need to take any possible opportunity to help these people.”

Nearly 100 works were donated to the fundraiser. Twenty of them were designated to be sold in the live auction, but a couple of surprises were added — one only moments before the auction and the second in the middle, Palmer said.

“Edmund [Kuempel] gave us a Texas chair from the senate and then we had someone who brought a gift certificate for 10 hours of instruction from Marika and then donated it back,” she said.

Of the pieces auctioned off were two of Bordes’ sculptures and a teaching session with Bordes that brought in about $4,000.

Overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for her homeland, Bordes addressed the audience with a “thank you” note from her sister-in-law and a Haitian Creole song “Mèci Bon Dié.”

“It means, ‘Thank you, Oh Lord.’ I thanked the Lord like the people of my country would do,” she said. “I just wanted to be connected with my people and thank the Lord with everybody.”

Haitians may have never heard of Seguin, Texas, but through the tragedy they are feeling a connection to the area residents, Bordes said.

“Right now a small town they have never heard about — I have been sending them all of the papers for them — has been doing so much and they know that we are with them,” she said. “I think with that fundraiser it would help some smiles to come back on my peoples’ faces, like all of the fundraisers. It’s very neat and very moving of what is going on in this little community.”

New Arts Commission in Seguin

Seguin Daily News Monday February 1, 2010

By Mary Jo Filip, Main Street Program Director

On Wednesday, Jan. 27 Mayor Betty Ann Matthies swore in the new members of the Arts Commission as required by State Law for those serving on municipal boards and commissions. New members are Stella Ozuna representing Teatro de Artes de Juan Seguin, John Masterson representing the Mid Texas Symphony, Ann Leithead representing the Oakwood Art League, Sheila Bailey Lucas representing Seguin Art Center, Stephen Anderson representing Texas Lutheran University, Sharon Amman who is a Citizen representative, and Dana Overstreet who is also a Citizen representative on the Commission.
The Arts Commission will meet the week of February 1 for the purpose of adopting By-laws and electing officers. A networking gathering of artists is being planned.

The development of an Arts Commission resulted from the strategic planning process of the Main Street Advisory Board. The ordinance passed by City Council stated:
—The visual, performing, and cultural arts organizations are growing in Seguin.
—The interests of each of the various arts and cultural activities may be better coordinated and supported by an organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the arts.
—The City Council of the City of Seguin desires to establish a Commission on the Arts for the purpose of promoting and supporting the arts.
—The purpose of the Commission on the Arts will be to encourage, stimulate, foster, and promote programs that will enrich the cultural environment of the City, thereby contributing to the quality of life in Seguin to the general attractiveness of Seguin for the purposes of economic development.
—The Commission on the Arts will work to help Seguin become an arts destination for the region in the belief that growth in the arts will enhance quality of life, economic development, and revitalization of Seguin.

The board members were appointed for staggered, two-year terms and can be reappointed for up to two additional terms.
The Commission is tasked with establishing, maintaining and publicizing a community-wide Arts Calendar; creating and maintaining an inventory of artists, arts organizations, events and available venues; communicating about and promoting the arts and artists; recommending policies to promote the arts; serve as a resource; look into establishing a volunteer network to assist artists; encourage networking; encourage the development of additional arts and cultural events and artifacts to the city; and to pursue funding for the support of arts programs.

John Masterson has spearheaded the development of the Arts Commission along with local artist and Main Street board member Marika Bordes. In a presentation to City Council, Masterson said: “The arts are a reflection of the highest and most noble aspirations of humanity. A vibrant arts scene is a sign of a culturally enlightened community. Establishing a Commission on the Arts will signal our City’s commitment to aesthetic values and how such values enrich us all.”

The Gazette-Enterprise Seguin’s arts scene is focus of new group

By Jessica Sanders
The Gazette-Enterprise
Published February 12, 2009
Keeping art alive in downtown Seguin is a focus for many members of the community.

The Main Street Advisory Board has recommended a group to look into creating the Seguin Council for the Arts (SCA). If formed, the SCA plans to give Seguin a little more art culture.

Marika Bordes, local artist and advocate for the arts in Seguin, said community members who share a great interest in the arts have met several times to discuss the opportunities that the council will provide to other local artists.

“We are a committee to form a council in order to have a voice for artist in the community,” Bordes said. “We want to promote the arts.”

The group will be holding two introductory meetings open to the public Tuesday, Feb. 17 and Monday, Feb. 23. Both meetings will be held at Chiro Java from 7–8:30 p.m.

Discussion at the meetings will consist of making the city a must-see for travelers, Bordes said.

“With art there is a lot you can do to attract tourists,” she said. “I think we need to make a lot of effort to attract and support art into the community.”

Attracting voyagers is not the only think that the SCA is looking to do.

Bordes said that the proposed council will work on creating different ways to bring attention to local artists or organizations.

“We will discuss possible activities like brochures, public service announcements, calenders and such advertising,” she said.

Bordes said the group hopes to benefit from the ideas of many local art-lovers.

“We are looking for artists, organizations and people that are interested in the arts in Seguin,” Bordes said.