By Patrick Lacombe, The Belton Journal
The seventh annual Take 190 West Festival celebrated the arts Saturday at the Killeen Civic & Conference Center.
The theme, Rock, Paper, Scissors, highlights the variety of mediums and techniques that were featured at the festival by artists and writers from across the country. Sculptors competed in a live stone carving competition, while artists showcased their talents on canvas and beyond and authors offered their works in books personally signing each one sold.
Western writer Denzel Holmes of Belton and his wife Margie were manning their table, showcasing the five novels he has penned.
“I’ve been writing since I retired from my job as a federal auditor in 1997,” said Holmes. “I could never find the time to write while I was raising a family and working a full time job.”
His latest novel is titled “Concho” and is set in West Texas in the early 1870s. It’s a story about a young engineer, Matt Altmann, and his desire to build a dam on the Concho river. The ambitious engineer faces many obstacles including cattlemen and an army led by Colonel Mackenzie who does not want the river dammed.
Holmes’ second book, “Last Race Sunday,” is set in Belton in 1878. It is the story of Pastor Martin Van Buren Smith and his unlikely partnership with Martha McWhirter and the Sanctificationists and their battle against gambling at a nearby racetrack.
“This book is a murder mystery and manhunt fueled by the conflict between the racetrack and the local churches. The racetrack robbed the churches of monetary resources and men,” Holmes states. “The novel does involve actual people from that era. Pastor Smith was the actual pastor at the time of Belton’s First Baptist Church and McWhirter started the Sanctification movement at her home located on North Pearl street in Belton.”
All five of Holmes’ novels can be found online at Amazon.com and McWha Bookstore at 114 East Central in Belton.
Jeffrey Allen Mays of Austin was signing copies of his debut novel “The Former Hero.” The novel recently won the First Place award in the category of Suspense/Thriller by the Texas Association of Writers.
“‘The Former Hero’ is more than just an adventure story. It’s a multi genre novel that switches from a detective story to a western, and a literary poem,” Mays said. “It has literary threads which the characters run through and they all connect up at the end of the book like some movies do. I’ve had strong reviews from the San Francisco book review and the Portland book review.”
“The Former Hero” was released in September of 2014 and is doing well. Mays began his writing in 2011 after a job lay-off followed by a 2 year process of revising and editing the novel. Mays book can be purchased on his website www.jeffreyallenmays.com or on Amazon.com.
Isaiah Osborne, a 10-year-old 5th grader at Timber Ridge Elementary in Killeen, went from table to table talking to different authors. Osborne was there with his mother Julie Rosado Osborne and his baby brother Alexander.
“Isaiah is in the TAG class at school and he’s very interested in writing,” Julie said. “He loves books and reading and wants to be a writer someday. He’s really into chapter books and loves going to the library. He’s writing a book about his passion, dragons. He also is interested in space and wants to work in the space field.”
Inside the Civic Center’s doors, artists and sculptors lined the huge room showing their art works and talking to customers.
Terry Flemings of Harker Heights and her son Terron, 25, also of Harker Heights, were talking to prospective buyers at her booth. Flemings’ artwork drew lots of attention from patrons as they admired her originality and her use of different textures and materials including clay and human hair.
One painting depicted an African tribesman with a full head of actual hair.
“That’s actually my hair in that portrait,” Terron said. “I used to have a full head of hair until Mom cut it all off and used it in her artwork.”
This was the first time Flemings has shown her art in a public setting.
“I never thought it was good enough for me to show, but I’ve already sold two paintings and we just started,” she said.
“She usually just puts them in the closet after she finishes,” Terron said. “I’ve been after her to show them for a while.”
The two paintings sold were scenes depicting Jazz bands. The first, titled Jawbones Juke Joint, featured a jazz band playing for patrons at a Juke Joint. The second, Bunkies Barber Shop, showed another Jazz group playing in the front room of a neighborhood barber shop while the barber clipped away at a customers head in the background.
“My whole goal is for people to take my works home and enjoy them because I put my heart and soul into them,” said Flemings.
During the interview with Flemings, Julia Rosado, of Killeen stepped up to the table eying a painting of a mother holding her child.
“This gives me goosebumps it’s so beautiful,” Rosado told the artist.
Terry Flemings will be showcasing her art again on April 25 at Belton’s Art and Wine on the Square from 12 to 7 p.m. on the grounds of the Bell County Courthouse, located in Downtown Belton at 101 West Central Avenue.