Here is the latest addition to my Back Alley Guthrie Series…
Down by the Depot
8″ x 10″ oil on panel
This painting was started en plein air and finished in the studio. We set up our easels down on the other side of the railroad tracks so that we could capture the roof of the Santa Fe Depot.
The second time we set up out here a very long train stopped right between us and our view. When it finally moved on, it started raining, just little drops, but being that we had been having such a drought we were thankful for any rain we could get. My daughter Tera was with me and used the raindrops in her watercolor painting of clouds.
When we were getting up to pack up our easels we began to smell skunk. Looking up in the sky we saw quite a few vultures flying around and darting down to the tracks beyond. After loading up we drove over to where the vultures were congregating and sure enough the train had run over a skunk. We left just in time… smiling and thankful for our little adventure.
Can’t leave here without a little bit of the history of these buildings. The Stephen C. Starr Building, located at 328 W. Oklahoma Avenue in downtown Guthrie, was built in 1894. Notice the two inlaid stone stars, and the Ames building which was built in 1902.
What is the first thing you notice when you look at this painting?
When I first saw this back alley site I noticed the stair step formation of the rooftops…it reminded me of building blocks, as in the wooden blocks you play with as a child… That is actually what inspired me to attempt this piece, plus the beautiful arches.
The front of this building isn’t nearly as exciting as the back. Here is a photo of the front…
As you can see, it is the new home of Byron Berline’s Fiddle Shop, the old one up the street on the next block burned down a few years ago. An article with very interesting photos and a video about the fire and the history of the original building can be found here. Sadly, Guthrie also lost it’s most famous world-renowned fiddle player this last year in 2021. I’m including a link to an article about Byron Berline here.
This building was built in 1907. The stone on the top says “19.W.H.Coyle.07”. W. H. Coyle is an interesting character from what I was able to find out about him. He came to Oklahoma during the land run in 1889 and invested in quite a lot of property in and around Guthrie thinking that this would be the state capitol. There is an excellent 5 part article called The Capitol War about what really happened when “they” stole the state seal from Guthrie and made Oklahoma City the capitol. It mentions W.H. Coyle and his stand against the governor and secretary of state.
“In Guthrie, the residents weren’t taking any chances. At the same time they sought help from state courts, they also turned to the Federal Court for help. On June 13, the Associated Press reported that a Guthrie property owner, W.H. Coyle, filed an application for a temporary injunction in federal court “restraining the state officers from moving state records to Oklahoma City or transacting official business at Oklahoma City.” Those complaints, documents show, rested on the argument that the election, itself, was illegally called and that Haskell’s action had no foundation or authorization in state law. “The action of the governor and secretary of state were revolutionary,” Coyle’s petition said.”
Charles Haskell was the governor at the time. One Guthrie newspaper had this headline about him, “Czar Charles Issues His Imperial Ukase At New State Capital.” Honestly, that is how it seems like this governor was acting, not as an elected official serving the people, but a dictator. I don’t know how people get away with things like this. Sounds like it was as bad back then as it is now.
Here is a depiction of Guthrie from 1889, only 9 months after the land run. Notice the block layout of the town… Again, we have Building Blocks. 🙂
Hope you enjoyed this little tidbit of history from Oklahoma. Any of you that are history buffs will really enjoy reading the 5 part article I mentioned above. The quotes are from there.
Not sure where I’m going from here, but I need to do one more painting for the series… That way I’ll have twelve and perhaps a calendar for 2023?
For those who are interested… a peek into my painting process. 🙂
This small one story building is nestled between two larger ones, hence the title… 🙂
This structure is to the left of my previous painting, and as I mentioned before there is a better view of the Guthrie Post office in the background. The front of this building has a large sign saying Hurley Plumbing. According to waymarking.com , it was built in 1928. I’m going to borrow a photo from them to show the front…
I’m guessing they remodeled the front probably in the 60’s to modernize. The old buildings are so gorgeous I don’t know why they did this, but at least the back alleys still show some of the antiquity.
Here’s a photo of the back that I used when painting in the studio…
Yesterday, I revisited the site to see how the sun might be shining out here in the morning hours. For the first time ever the corrugated metal gate was closed. And according to the signs they definitely don’t want anyone getting too close.
I have one more back alley building to work on and a smaller project of an old handle that I will be sharing soon.
I tried fixing the color problem by changing the saturation. This is a better picture of my last post, not perfect, but a lot better…
A little reminder to myself on why I’m doing these back alley paintings from my first back alley post…
“A little honesty here… I have been so uninspired by the Oklahoma landscape. My dream always has been to paint oceans and mountains, places I remember that I loved when I was growing up. But just maybe I have been looking in the wrong places. Maybe I need to find the forlorn, the lonely, the cast off and begin to make beauty from ashes. This may be a new beginning for me…just maybe…”
I probably spent 2 hours trying to get an accurate photo of this painting. Even with some editing I could not get the colors right. The sky is much lighter than this, and the stone and brick darker, but I think you can get the idea. The spiral staircase is fascinating. Many of the back alley buildings have wrought iron staircases. It still amazes me what detail and care the builders put in the backs of these old buildings.
The building that you see peeking out from behind is the Guthrie Post Office. The next painting I’m working on will show more of the post office in the background. It will be the small building next door to the left.
One thing I have discovered in observing the back alleys of Guthrie is that this town is full of arches. Not only on the fronts of the buildings, but in the back, as well. And most of them have a double layer of bricks on top emphasizing the beautiful arched doors and windows.
I named this next painting “Back Alley Arches”, because that is what first attracted me to this back alley location.
For those who appreciate a little background, my daughter Sage and I went on a back alley discovery adventure last fall. I took photos of sites that intrigued me.
A couple of months ago, I went back to take a look and there was a woman outside working on her potted plants. The place looked adorable…
Massive vines cover a lot of the back alley buildings in the summer, in the winter all the leaves are gone and it looks pretty bare and scrubby.
And here is my preliminary sketch…
Now the painting has to dry for some months and then the linen will be glued to a masonite board and have a coat or two of varnish, before it is framed.
Hope you enjoyed seeing a little view of the progression of this oil painting.
This is the perfect pleinair set up… the back of a pick up truck, so comfy and convenient. 🙂 My daughter Tera even brought me some coffee from our favorite Guthrie coffee shop Hoboken, which is only a couple of blocks away.
I hope you enjoy some of the links I’ve shared. The 2021 Most Endangered Places has a nice picture of the tower and more info on the history. You can order coffee from the Hoboken link, and even read the story of the amazing family that started Hoboken and have given so much love to the Guthrie community and beyond… There’s a great video to watch about Hoboken here.
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” ~ Luke 21:36
Strange name, isn’t it? Albert O. Farquharsan opened a clothing store in this building in 1907.
This quote from waymarking.com describes the building…
“The 1907 Guthrie City Directory shows Albert O. Farquharson occupying this building as a clothing store, with men’s furnishings, hats and shoes. In the back alley on the west side of the building is a ghost which reads: “Clothing Store / Hats Shoes Tools and Grips”. “
I thought it was interesting that these faded letters on old buildings were called ghosts.
Here is my rendition…
A friend of ours dressed up like an old time gentleman for the Victorian Christmas Walk last year, and I thought he was such a fitting addition to the scene. Just imagine back in 1907 walking out of this men’s clothing store outfitted with a new hat, vest, coat, pants, shoes and cane.
Just recently someone painted the letters on this out of the way back alley building. I really am partial to the ghost letters. I’m glad I painted it before the renovation.
Even though the ghost lettering was hard to read, I think they made a mistake when they painted HOUSE instead of STORE.
As you know if you have been following me here, I have been working on a series of paintings of the back alley buildings and whatever else I find in the historic town of Guthrie, Oklahoma. When I saw this bike leaning against a railing it sure caught my attention.
Here’s my sketch…
Here’s the painting…
The geometrics is what really inspired me, plus the black railing against the Terracotta color of the wall. Terracotta means “baked earth” and this color is rich in Guthrie in all the bricks used on the historic buildings. You can even see it on one of the old buildings as you peek around the corner on the right side of this wall.
What really intrigued me too was that this bicycle looked as if it was used every day, but the plant growing out of the crack in the pavement actually had wound itself in the spokes of the wheel.
I hope you enjoy inspecting the elements of this painting.
I have been sick for quite a while with this long drawn out virus. My motivation has been extremely impeded, but I hope to be getting better and getting some more work done on this series.
I’m excited about the Trucker’s Freedom Convoy and I hope it will spark a fire that will bring an end to unjust tyranny around the world! Wouldn’t that be incredible!
Praying that God will be with them all… and you all…
My second inspiration on Back Alley Guthrie is not really a back alley, but when we walked past this building being painted I totally fell in love with the look of it all, and there is a little hint of a back alley on the left side. 🙂
Those windows on the left side of the second story… I would love to stand up there and see what that looks like from inside. What do they have a view of from up there? The birds on the roof… The vines growing out over the awnings… leaves turning shades of brown and red, which brings me to the potted autumn decor on the far right under the mailbox of the building next door. So many fun little details.