On Saturday evening, I went to an art opening in Lampasas with my dear friend Vickie Kelley. Vickie is a talented fabric artist married to noted sculptor Troy Kelley whose bronze works include Robert Gray the namesake of the Killeen airport, and Ted Connell also on display at the airport. (I’m extremely disappointed that you can’t find photos of these two major works at a public building on google. I’m heartbroken that not only is his statue of Jesus at the Salado Methodist church unavailable online, but the church has no notable presence online and their feeble website is years out of date.)

But I digress!

Here’s what stuck with me from Saturday.

tim's descriptionTim. or Timmy or Timothy. I’ll call him “Tim” because that’s his preference.

Tim is a self-appointed art interpreter for the town of Lampasas.

He learned “art” just as thousands of children have learned through the ages – at the knee of a master. Tim’s “master” was T.J. Mabrey a sculptor who spent hours at the Hanna Sculpture Garden in the heat of Central Texas carving four pillars – IV Florae – depicting the emergence of native flora from seed to fruit. We may never meet again, but Tim was an instant buddy plenty happy to show us around the gallery and offer his commentary, and to clown around with us.


After an hour or so at The Boat Show, Tim and his mother, Lorrie took us to the Hanna Sculpture Garden where Tim first met T.J. and brought her the acorn that would serve as the model for one of her pillars.

tim and acorn


looking at the weather vane

Tim’s intimate knowledge of T.J.’s art borne out of lazy afternoons watching her craft the four pillars of stone representing native plants in Texas made him an expert guide for our tour of the Boat Exhibit, but was particularly useful when he and his mother, Lorrie took us to the sculpture gardens.

That’s where this ADHD child really shone.


I’m sure that T.J. had Tim in mind when her remarks focused on the importance of art in our schools. When did we decide that education is about “getting a job” and when did we decide that the best route to a “job-focused” education means that we sacrifice art education? Try to sculpt a “larger than life” presence of Robert Gray who has to stand over 7′ tall even though he never reached that stretch, like my friend Troy did. You have to understand physiology, science, and math to do that and keep everything in proportion. Think about the research skills and knowledge of Texas history that Troy has accumulated while working on the 12′ column depicting the Chisolm Trail that he is creating for the Bell County Museum. Just working in bronze requires knowledge of science, chemistry, engineering, physics and geology.

Tim on benchKids like Tim who may not do well in traditional classes could really shine working with their hands and learning through creating. I hope he gets that chance, but I worry that our cookie cutter approach to education and our emphasis on education as a means to getting a job doesn’t accommodate special kids like Tim. Fortunately, he’s got an attentive, involved mom and is surrounded by creative outlets.

I had a ball taking pictures of him with my iPhone and am glad that his mother agreed to let me snap away. Tim is one remarkable kid!