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.”