As a big Texas music fan, Mark Joeckel has managed to get close to his idols by working behind the scenes in the industry.
“I've just always been the festival guy, special events guy, general manager over at Arlington Music Hall before the pandemic hit,” he says. “So my background has always been special events. We do the West Main Street Festival over there that's in its eighth year this year.
"So, I've always loved being around artists and musicians and I am not one of either, ” he adds with a laugh.
Joeckel is also an avid supporter of the visual arts. And even at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, he was inspired to open Create Arlington, an art gallery with 14 studio workspaces he rents to local
For the gallery’s latest exhibition, which opened in January, Joeckel curated a collection of portraits from local artists depicting Texas musicians. For him, this was the perfect way to honor his heroes — and to get people to the gallery.
“You know, I'm just a huge Texas musician fan,” Joeckel says. “And it was a good way to get people out that maybe aren't art gallery folks but love their favorite Texas musicians. So it was kind of a combo deal of celebrating Texas music and art but a good way to get out a bunch of music fans who might typically not come to one of our gallery exhibits but they're Texas music fans. And so, our opening reception, we had about 300 people. It was very well attended.”
The exhibition, The Lone Star Sings: Portraits of Texas Musicians, will run through Feb. 11 at Create Arlington. It comprises portraits by 13 artists, including Stacy Campbell, Wes Coke, Justin Simmons and Sam Watson.
The painters ultimately decided on their subjects, though Hoeckel had some specific faces he wanted in the exhibition.
“Well, I grew up in Austin in the ‘80s so Stevie Ray Vaughan is one that I wanted to make sure we had and we have two really nice Stevie Ray Vaughans [portraits] and then I'm a big fan of Lyle Lovett,” he says. “And Erykah Badu, so those were kind of the priority ones for me. And then from there we have Selena [Quintanilla]; Selena Gomez; we have Willie Nelson; we have Solange, Beyoncé's sister; we have a couple of Beyoncé, so it was a good mix."
All of the portrait subjects are Texas musicians, but some are more local than others.
"And then we had a handful of real local-local artists," Joeckel says. "We have two Maren Morrises — she's from Arlington here — and then a Kirk Franklin, and he's actually a neighbor of mine over here in downtown Arlington.”
The Lone Star Sings: Portraits of Texas Musicians runs until Feb. 11 at Create Arlington, 304 W. Main St., Arlington.