By Heather Regula, Correspondent
My Giving Tree Gift Shop & Gallery presented A Cup of Art, a solo art show featuring JohnJohn Montelongo, of JohnJohn’s Digital Art on Saturday, March 18 from 10 am-3 pm at Arusha’s Coffee, located at 126 N. East St in Belton. Live music was provided by country music duo Treble Soul. A Cup of Art marries art and live music with coffee and is the brainchild of Leila Valchar, owner of The Giving Tree, located at 121 N. East St in Belton.
“I’m a huge supporter of the arts. My goal is to highlight a different artist every month, showcase local talent and keep the community aware of just how much talent we have locally,” said Valchar. “The first A Cup of Art event took place in 2015 and there has been one every month since. It usually coincides with downtown Belton’s Market Days on the third Saturday of each month. In December, the artists who have shown their work over the past year will come together for A Cup of Art group showing. There will not be A Cup of Art in April because we will be involved in the egg hunt fundraiser for AWARE of Central Texas on April 15,” explained Valchar. There was a steady flow of customers throughout the day. “It’s nice to sit here, enjoy the music and see more people than usual come in to take part in this event” said Paul Kuemmerlein, a regular at Arusha’s Coffee.
Award-winning and self-taught photographer JohnJohn Montelongo, of JohnJohn’s Digital Art, was this month’s featured artist. His A Cup of Art show consisted of 11 framed black and white prints, five framed color prints and a collection of miscellaneous prints of various sizes – totaling approximately 30 in all. Montelongo was born in Plainview, Texas and spent much of his youth in Lebanon, Oregon before relocating to Rockdale, Texas in 1995. He now resides in Little River-Academy and works as a photographer for Rescue magazine. He photographs animals for the periodical, which is dedicated to helping sheltered animals. Montelongo is also a photographer with the South Central Storm Chasers. This will be his third year taking pictures for the City of Temple’s Bloomin’ Temple Festival on April 28-29.
“I’ve been working as a photographer for about nine years and I’ve had my work on display at different shows in various locations – from Portland, Oregon…to Austin, Texas. In December 2016, about 25-30 of my photographs were on display at the Cultural Activities Center in Temple” said Montelongo. “I took a 35mm class on photography basics at Temple College a few years ago and that class helped me learn about lights and shadows. That’s when I started to lean towards black and white photography, which is my favorite medium. To me, black and white photographs tell more of a story. Color allows us to see just about everything, while black and white photographs are more mysterious – they leave much more to the imagination.”
Members of Treble Soul are 22-year-old Hannah Prestidge, of Rockdale, Texas and 21-year-old Curt Jones, of West Monroe, Louisiana. They performed four original songs along with covers of classics by country greats such as Johnny Cash and George Strait, and more current tunes by the likes of Blake Shelton and Sara Evans. Hannah Prestidge and Curt Jones met in Nashville, Tennessee in March 2014. “I finished my show at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and headed over to the rooftop of Rippy’s Bar and Grill.
Hannah was there, doing a soundcheck before her show. She looked up and asked me how she sounded – it was love at first song” said Jones. “John Taylor is the owner of both Tootsie’s and Rippy’s. He paired us up to sing together and we have been singing together ever since. Our first CD is a living room cut and came out in 2014. It is available on our website www.treblesoul.com.”
Jones described their relationship as “…love at first song because Hannah was the first one I was ever able to harmonize with and keep rhythm with. Hannah’s voice is unreal – she is such a good singer. We are both self-taught and we make each other better. We’ve basically done everything kind of backward – our daughter, Presley, was born on January 8, 2015, which would’ve been Elvis’ 80th birthday. We got married on Saturday, March 11.” Their story was heard during Treble Soul’s heartfelt rendition of Sara Evans’ “You’ll Always Be My Baby”. Hannah and Curt have both received scholarships to attend the prestigious Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music in Los Angeles, California. They plan on starting there later this year.
In attendance at A Cup of Art on Saturday were Presley and some of Hannah’s family. Tiffany Prestridge of Rockdale, Hannah’s mother, kept a watchful eye on Presley while Treble Soul performed. “This little one is going to steal the show one day too!” said Prestridge. Hannah’s grandmother, Kathy Rutherford of Belton is one of Treble Soul’s biggest fans.
“We’ve been supporting Hannah in her singing since she was four years old. Curt and Hannah are both self-taught musicians and they work so hard. They’ve been concentrating on writing their own songs and playing where and when they can. They deserve success and their big break should be coming along any day now!” said Rutherford.