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

Published 12:30 am 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 Port Arthur resident draws on his memory of places, people and scenes in his oil and water color paintings.

His work is on view at Texas Artists Museum, where a closing reception will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 31.

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Manuel is a self-taught artist.

“It’s something that was in me,” Manuel said. “I never could sit down and listen to people talk. I always had to have a pencil and pad in my hand.”

What began with doodling progressed. He read up on art, learned perspectives and other artistic techniques.

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

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

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

“We spent a lot of time there,” he said of the church, explaining this was an area where the community gathered after services. If they wanted to go somewhere else they would need to drive there. “The building still exists today.”

Some of this other artwork shows his love of the outdoors and fishing, with scenes of a ship and bridge with people on the bank fishing. With one, he replicated a sketch he did while near the jetties in Sabine Pass.

There are Zydeco paintings, church paintings, landscape and more on exhibit.

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

The art students learned elements of art, while taking on landscapes, portrait and abstract art during the sessions.

His art is available for purchase, Trosclair said.

For more information, call 409-498-1793.