REFRESH AND REGROUP
Sometimes You Just Have To Get Away From It All
Every Year Our Church, Topeka Bible Church (TBC), Sponsors A Retreat, “Family Camp”. It Is A Time To Get Away And Spiritually Recharge.
My wife Raychel “Mad Hatter” George and I first experienced Family Camp the summer of 2021. After the pandemic stress of 2020 the retreat was a welcomed chance to relax and escape for a few days. This year was no different. After the horrors of our studio and home being violated and Raychel’s battle with cancer a getaway was desperately needed.
We arrived at New Life Ranch: Flint Valley in Colcord, Oklahoma around 2:00 PM on Thursday Afternoon August 4th. We would have arrived at 1:00 PM but there was a man hunt underway in Pryor, Oklahoma and all traffic was being diverted around the city.
We quickly found our cabin and started unloading our rental car. If you recall our car was stolen a day after the studio break in. Our car was totaled by the thieves, so we were grateful that our insurance policy included a rental car. After the car was unloaded it was time to relax. Raychel took a nap (she does not travel well), and I kicked back on the deck of our cabin to enjoy a peaceful afternoon.
Family Camp is alive with lots of Fellowship and lots of Activities and Raychel plays a major role in one of those activities; Children’s Crafts. Raychel takes over the Activity Hut and leads the Children in Craft Activities every evening after Worship Service. Raychel looks forward to being with the children and spends weeks before Family Camp getting the craft projects together.
For my part I help Raychel set up the Activities Hut and I assist her in keeping order among 30 excited and happy children. Otherwise, I am on my own to create my own entertainment and this year that is just what I did.
I took my portable easel/paint box with me with every intention of doing a painting outside while at this beautiful camp. I had recently gotten the easel/paint box and was excited to use it. The design is based on the easel/paint box that Van Gogh created and with Vincent Van Gogh being my favorite artist well…
There was a great view of a hillside and a pasture from the deck in front of our cabin, so I decided to paint my interpretation of that view. New Life Ranch: Flint Valley is located in the Oklahoma Ozarks, so every view is great. But this one intrigued me. I cannot explain why, it just did so I set out to capture it on my canvas.
The first day I worked on the painting for 3 hours and the second day I finished it in 2 hours. I paint fairly quick but could be faster if I was not so meticulous. I recently read an essay by a well-known artist where his opinion was that “unskilled artists spend too much time on detail”. I disagree! I strongly believe the old adage that “God Is In The Details” and I love the details. For me that is half the fun of creating a painting.
Sunday came all too soon, and it was time to head home. To try and explain how special the 4 days we spend at Family Camp would be like trying to explain the feel of the first warm day of spring; there are no words.
I have something special in mind for this painting which is acrylic on 16” x 20” canvas board. I have entitled it “Flint Valley Pasture”. What will I paint next year when Raychel and I go to Family Camp? Who knows? But I can promise you that I will greatly enjoy capturing whatever scene it is.
TOPCON POP EXPO to ARTIST ALLEY STUDIO
Changes come from unexpected places and as the old saying goes “God works in mysterious ways.” So it was with the death of TopCon Pop Expo and the birth of Artist Alley Studio.
When the Covid-19 Pandemic hit TopCon was well on track for our seventh year. When I created the event in 2014 I had never imagined that it would grow to the size it did. In our seventh year we had contracted to bring Animaniac’s in Concert to the Topeka Performing Arts Center. The main event would be held in the newly remodeled Exhibition Hall at the Stormont-Vail Events Center. To top it all off the Greater Topeka Partnership was talking with us about making TopCon Pop Expo a weeklong event.
While we were gearing up for TopCon Pop Expo 2020 we were also moving the Artist Alley Studio out of the NOTO Arts District out to our current location on Southwest Topeka Blvd. We had outgrown our space in the Amused Gallery where we were renting a studio room. It was time for me to come out of semi-retirement and go back into tattooing and piercing full time.
My wife Raychel and I had combined our LLC’s and had made the transition from Skin Art Creations Tattoo Emporium to Artist Alley Studio Tattoos and Piercings. We were remodeling our newly acquired storefront and we were on track for an April 1st opening. Then the world shut down on March 25, 2020. Everything came to a screeching halt and life became an uncertain future of what-ifs and maybes. We would have to wait until the quarantine was lifted to open the studio and TopCon’s future was uncertain.
During the shutdown the news came down that the Coronavirus Pandemic would be around for an unknown period of time and would get worse before it got better. We decided to cancel TopCon for 2020 and concentrate on getting Artist Alley Studio going in the direction it needed to go. On May 18, 202o the Artist Alley Studio opened, and we were on the road to recovery. We held hope that TopCon Pop Expo would return in 2021.
As we moved out of 2020 and into 2021 we started plans for TopCon Pop Expo 2021. We had lost the opportunity to host Animaniac’s in Concert so we were looking at other possible acts for TPAC so we would not lose our deposit. We were also working with the agent for Animaniac’s in Concert since we had paid a large deposit with his agency, and we did not want to lose that either.
We were faced with many obstacles that were becoming harder and harder to overcome. One Con rescheduled their event for the same weekend as TopCon had always been. Plus plans were made to have the delayed Topeka Saint Patrick’s Celebration on the same weekend also. We moved TopCon from the 3rd weekend in September to the 2nd Weekend in October to avoid the competition and possible low attendance.
Business was good at the Artist Alley Studio but the future of TopCon was uncertain. TopCon Pop Expo’s fate was sealed with the news that we could expect a new surge of infections in the Fall. Between the risk to public health and the mask mandate not to mention most Con’s had already experienced low attendance in our new Pandemic world; we pulled the plug on TopCon Pop Expo.
By the time we refunded our vendors and cancelled contracts losing the deposits we experienced a $20,000 loss. This loss effectively killed TopCon Pop Expo and we laid Topeka’s First Pop Culture Convention to rest. There would be no reschedules; it was over. It was time to move on.
We have since poured all our efforts into making the Artist Alley Studio the best it can be. We have also renewed our faith in God and become more involved in activities at our church; Topeka Bible Church. Whether it is our Tattooing and Piercing Services, our in studio and online store or our Art Gallery both physical and online we work hard to progress and offer the best we have.
Part of our transition was within our newsletters. We migrated people that had signed up for the TopCon Pop Expo newsletter over to the 3 Artist Alley Studio newsletters: At Needles Point, The Artist Life and Free Art Fridays. We hope that the fans and friends we made with TopCon Pop Expo will continue to be our fans and friends with Artist Alley Studio.
I personally like keeping in contact with our newsletters. I can share news and interesting info with our subscribers, and I feel like it is a more personal form of communication that goes far beyond social media. Long before social media was a thing we communicated and socialized through emails and email newsletters. I have noticed a trend back to this form of social communication and I am proud that Artist Alley studio can be part of it.
If you enjoy our newsletters and you think you know someone else who would enjoy them, please feel free to share our subscription link. We also hope that you enjoy our efforts with Artist Alley Studio enough that you will share our Tattoo and Piercing Services with other as well as our Artwork and websites.
Thank you so much to those who supported TopCon Pop Expo during its existence and Thank You to those who continue to support us and our Artist Alley Studio. May God Bless and Keep You and Yours Always.
OUR MISSION AT ARTIST ALLEY STUDIO
We believe that no matter what type of Art You want Body, Portrait, Fine or Craft that you deserve to receive nothing less than the best we can offer. Our personal guarantee to you is that whether visiting our Artist Alley Studio & Gallery or our Online Gallery you will always be greeted and serviced in a clean, safe and friendly environment. This has been our mission since 1976 and will continue to be so into the future.
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