PHOTO GALLERY – Port Arthur artist brings memories to canvas, shares stories behind inspiration

Posted at 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Some call his work folk art, but local artist John Manuel calls his work memory art because that’s what it is, from his memories.

The Bellevue, Louisiana, native and longtime resident of Port Arthur draws on his memory of places, people and scenes in his oil and water color paintings.

Her work is on display at the Texas Artists Museum, where a closing reception will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on August 31.

Manuel is a self-taught artist.

“It was something that was inside me,” Manuel said. “I have never been able to sit and listen to people talk. I always had to have a pencil and a notepad in hand.

What started with scribbling has progressed. He read about art, learned perspective and other artistic techniques.

Growing up in rural America in an area where cotton was picked and vegetables were harvested in the fields, there was no television, so he found a lighted place and drew.

Manuel pointed to a chart on Tuesday for Port Arthur Newsmedia showing a red church with a high steeple. A road leads to the church and beyond in the painting.

The church, he said, is the Church of Christ the Redeemer in his hometown, and the scene is one he has seen many times.

“We spent a lot of time there,” he said of the church, explaining that it was a place where the community gathered after services. If they wanted to go somewhere else, they had to drive there. “The building still exists today.”

Some of these other works of art show his love of the outdoors and fishing, with scenes of a ship and a bridge with people on the shore fishing. With one, he reproduced a sketch he had made near the piers at Sabine Pass.

There are Zydeco paintings, church paintings, landscapes and much more.

Pam Trosclair, acting director of the Texas Artists Museum, said Manuel taught Fine Arts Week during ArtSmart in late July and worked with children ages 6 to 12.

Art students learned elements of art, while tackling landscapes, portraits, and abstract art during the sessions.

His art is available for purchase, Trosclair said.

For more information, call 409-498-1793.

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