Here’s a pop quiz: where will you find Brenham beer, Brenham ice cream, Brenham barbecue and Brenham art under one roof this weekend?
Actually, not in Brenham.
Buzz Mill in Austin is hosting a Brenham showcase Saturday from 2 to 10 p.m. The eclectic space is part coffee shop, part whiskey bar and part craft beer purveyor. Brazos Valley Brewery will release two new beers at the event. Blue Bell is sending ice cream samples. And LJ’s BBQ is providing the vittles.
“Those are three good staples from Brenham right there,” local artist Doug Cason said.
Cason is contributing the final piece of the puzzle: the art — most of it, anyway. He has recruited fellow Washington County artist Candi Fite to participate in the show, as well. They will bring several pieces and Cason will do a demonstration on a new work from his “Reverend Wayne” collection.
Cason is a man of many faces. He produces art under four different personalities: Zepeda, Reverend Wayne, Preston N.M.I and of course, his own name. While this may seem schizophrenic, the philosophy is simple and familiar to many artistic creators.
“I’m constantly producing and there are all these ideas, and once you have an identity, it’s hard to break from that identity,” he said. “So, I just created an alter ego. Every time a new idea would come up, I would just say, ‘Well, it doesn’t really fit in A and it doesn’t fit in B, let’s just make it C and run with that.’”
His four alter egos are down from a peak of six a few years ago and they specialize in different types of art. The paintings he produces under his own name are unique combinations of historical events that involve a battle from ancient history, a battle from the Civil War and a modern visual technique.
“The Return from Jeroboam” is one of the more popular examples. The name comes from a story in the Old Testament that pitted a son of Solomon against a son of one of Solomon’s officials. They fought over who would be king of Israel — brother against brother, in a way.
Cason finds an image of a Civil War battle, runs it through a computer program that swirls the picture and then paints the swirled image. The result adds an ominous, chaotic feel to the painting. The three elements — the title, the battle and the swirl effect — work together to create a theme.
“It’s basically saying that we haven’t learned from our mistakes,” Cason said. “So I’ve got the Civil War imagery that’s been swirled around with modern technology and when it comes to titling it, I go back to the early dawn of man — Biblical battles, early Muslim battles that all deal with the same ideas like slavery, man against man, or country against country.”
Reverend Wayne is the alter ego who creates colorful taxidermy pieces (Cason is an ordained minister and his middle name is Wayne). Through many experiments he learned that if he painted the taxidermic heads of animals with 100 coats of paint, he could produce dynamic layers and drips that dry beneath the head.
These pieces blend “city” aspects like a spectrum of wild colors with “country” aspects like hunting. Cason grew up as a city kid in Fort Worth, but loves the small-town life of Brenham. He moved here eight years ago to become an art professor at Blinn College.
Preston N.M.I. creates doily paintings and watercolor book covers. This personality is an homage to Cason’s father, whose name is Preston and who has no middle initial (N.M.I.)
The final alter ego is Zepeda, who operates in the most modern space of all the personas. He creates photo realistic oil paintings of “selfies” that have been posted online.
Cason was an early user of social media to post his artwork on the internet. He discovered a world of self-taken photos and became interested in the staging of the pictures and the random objects that appeared in the background.
“I have one where there are garbage bags in the background,” he laughed. “Or a roll of duct tape in the bathroom … or the paint is peeling … or you’ve got stacks of books in the bathtub.”
Artwork from personalities Douglas Cason, Reverend Wayne and Zepeda will make the trip to Austin this weekend as Brenham takes over The Buzz Mill. With those three, and Fite, and barbecue, beer and ice cream, the bar will certainly have a full house.