Wednesday, October 6, 2010

State Fair of Texas

The State Fair is a great yearly tradition in Texas. Located at the Art Deco Fair Park in East Dallas, the grounds were the site of the Texas Centennial celebration in 1936. Every October a new round of exhibits, concerts, wild food (besides the requisite Fletcher's Corny Dog, every year's "menu" features a fried version of something, such as beer, butter, Coke, ice cream, etc.), livestock shows, games and rides dominate the local population for three weeks.
In the past I've been commissioned to provide images for the Fair in a couple of different contexts. Here they are, with an oldie from my art school days.

Below was an illustration for Texas Monthly magazine, depicted the iconic figure of the Fair, Big Tex. He's a 52 feet tall statue that speaks to fairgoers in an appropriately big, booming voice. I concentrated on his head in this image, particularly on one feature, which has always intrigued me: his ventriloquist dummy style lower jaw that permits him to tell everybody about the latest happenings.

This one appeared in the Dallas Morning News. I wanted to take a different point of view on the Fair, celebrating an element that often gets overlooked. The livestock shows happen at the beginning of the fair. 4-H, FFA and professional livestock handlers compete in different venues for prizes and recognition. The winning animals are sometimes sold for tens of thousands of dollars, kicking off college funds for their proud owners.
In high school my farmer/rancher dad insisted I take part in FFA (Future Farmers of America; which did not at all apply in my case) and raise a show calf in all four of my high school years. This piece was based on an actual photo of my poor skinny self with my massive first show calf. I won't be reproducing that pic here.
The often distinctive patterns on calves inspired this big guy's Texas flag motif.

Finally, I created this piece for an illustration class at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M Commerce). The great Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame member Jack Unruh was the instructor.
The collage media was a departure for me, and something of an experiment. The piece went on to win First Place in its Illustration category at the Dallas Society of Visual Communications Student Show in 1977.

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