Today’s Abstraction

Those who live in Central Texas probably agree that Ashe juniper qualifies as a scourge that has proliferated at such an alarming rate that cedar forests are a common feature of the landscape. I applaud landowners who are arresting their spread by grubbing them up. This example was not only pulled up by its roots but also turned upside down, creating a surprising sculptural shape and offering a clear message about how much the tree

Once Upon a Time, 5,000 years ago …

Late last year, we hosted Del Barnett, Archeology Steward, Texas Historical Commission, who spent the day with us completing an archeological survey of the Duncan Ranch. Our day started at the Payne Gap Schoolhouse, where we spent some time analyzing the fossil life in the stone walls. We also dug around the environs of the schoolhouse looking for evidence of the original, wooden schoolhouse that burned in 1938 (more details of this event included in

Today’s Abstraction

If you have an artist’s eye, and you’re scanning the landscape while driving, sometimes a composition like this demands you stop your car and take a picture. That’s exactly what happened in this case. One can imagine that a precisionist artist like Charles Sheeler would have similarly responded. This geometric, artificial overlay of colorful guide wires applies an illusion of order on top of the landscape, yet it also brings pure aesthetic excitement.

Fire Nor Man Wants to Die

Around noon on March 14, 2022, I noticed a flurry of activity near the fence surrounding our wind project’s lay down and operations and maintenance areas. I soon realized that some workers had started a blaze. Seconds later, it was out of control, tearing its way toward the northeast and moving as fast as liquid …

Payne Gap Plant Cornucopia

We are discovering a horticulturist’s cornucopia in Payne Gap. Our four-acre property and environs host a variety of surprising plant life that before now largely existed in anonymity under our feet. Thanks to the Seek app, we have been able to identify most of them, many of which local farmers and ranchers refer to as weeds, and often for good reason. My favorite discovery so far is London Rocket, a member of the Brassicales order,


What physical forces determine how a thing transitions to something else? For example, how does land turn to sky at the horizon line? I’m interested in these transitional states and how they work at the atomic level as well as their metaphorical potential. Something close to home presented itself recently that energized my interest in the concept: the late summer turning of Sumac leaves from green to brown. This process lasted a moment really, about

100 Million Years Ago

I have always been fascinated by the ridge of boulders to the north of my dad’s house in Payne Gap. I suspected that some dramatic tectonic event caused part of the hill to slide down, exposing all those large rocks, and apparently I was on the right track. I reached out to Linda Ruiz McCall, Information Geologist and Resource Center Manager at the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, who shared the quoted text

The Plan from Above

After a considerable amount of analysis, we have worked out a preliminary plan for the Payne Gap Schoolhouse and Cemetery campus that includes three additional structures beyond the schoolhouse. Actually there’s four if you count the garden area. Folk visiting the schoolhouse will use bathroom facilities available in the studio/garage. The studio/garage calls for parking for two cars, large indoor and outdoor work spaces, and possibly accommodations for a visitor (maybe the artist-in-residence). We have

Prickly Flowers

On March 28, 2021, Jeffrey created these assemblages, announcing them as his first artworks created on the Payne Gap property. Just in case you haven’t figured it out, they are fabric flowers he found in a weathered heap of cemetery trash. He attached the found grave flowers to prickly pears. They are nearly believable, and I like the fusion of the two, artificial with real. I took these pictures at night with light from Jeffrey’s

A Schoolhouse with a View

Starting in the summer of 2019, work picked up on land clearing. Sam had already cleared a lot by this time, but with Jeffrey aboard, clearing activities accelerated. By fall of 2020, much of the under brush had been removed, vines pulled from trees, and fence lines cleared—helped dramatically by some bulldozer work that took out many of the red oaks that had been neglected and allowed to become sprawling octopuses. The overall goal of