Thursday, July 28, 2011

Finding Passion and it's HOT !?

I'm only gonna mention this once. It's HOT! Okay I'm back to visioning the thermometer at 70 and the Llano River rushing full of cool, clear water.....

A July Wedding Lou & Cheryl Quallenberg
This week we celebrate 16 years of marriage.  Our Sweet 16!  It is a marriage full of passion and passions. We have been through our share of good times and bad times, surviving all of it with lot’s of laughter and of course love.  I wanted to focus this month on passion because that is what started us down this journey of mesquite furniture making.  It is a passion for this unique, unusual, cranky, craggley, old wood that got us to this successful point on our path of mesquite furniture making.    

Passion is the fuel that takes an idea and pushes it into creation or reality.  

The Arnosky Family back then.

Lou and I got married on a flower farm in Blanco / Wimberly known as Texas Specialty Cut Flowers.  I was still a career girl with a passion for flowers.  With my Horticulture degree from Texas A&M, I had conceived, created,  implemented and managed  the floral department at Central Market - a new concept store for HEB Grocery Company at the time.

The Arnosky Family and their company Texas Specialty Cut Flowers were and still are ALL about a passion for growing flowers.  It shows in the beautiful product they produce.  It is hard work growing cut flowers in Texas but they do it with such grace and  I am still  to this day in awe! I still have my passion for flowers but my health has dictated a much less physical lifestyle for me.

We are spending our 16th Anniversary at the Inn above Onion Creek a place where we hope and expect to find a passion for food, hospitality and life..... 

Passion can be seen, heard, tasted, smelt and felt.


buffalo skull
Ira Kennedy's "Spirit of the Buffalo"
Between Two Fires Web.jpg (646425 bytes)
Ira Kennedy's "Between Two Fires"
Passion can be seen in the unique works of Ira KennedyIra’s work is a unusual mix of folk,  native American, aborigine, and pointillism.  His style while ever evolving has blossomed recently as he nears his 70th birthday.

His passion for art has been there with him all along. From his youth when he lived in New York City (1965-1970) participating in the art scene and a show with Andy Warhol, to his creation of Enchanted Rock Magazine, up to this day as he paints in his new style on a patio, boxes, canvas and even deer as part of Llano’s Trail of the Deer Art Project.  We have enjoyed watching his passion flame again knowing full well that Kathy was the spark that set this man afire.

I recently discovered Pinterest and want to share it.  I kind of think of it as a place where folks can collect their passions - just be careful it can be addicting.  You create boards with subjects of your choosing and pin images of your choosing to them. A sort of virtual collecting (or hoarding as the case may be)  of the things you like, "your passions." You can see a few of my passions on my boards here:
Just remember I DID warn you.

Danny Brooks
Passion can be heard in the voice of one of our local favorite singer, songwriter, musician Danny Brooks
take a listen here: 

That is a mild one for him but "Good love is hard to find" and it sort of fits this blog post theme.  He is a regular at Fuel Coffee House here in Llano and while most of the time I am a work widow (he can't help it it's his passion!), if Mr. Brooks is singing I can usually get a "date nite" full of wonderful live music, friends and foot stomping! Danny Brooks WILL get you up out of your seat.

You can also hear a passion for ALL things Mesquite anytime you talk to Joe and Amie Prest of  The Mesquite Company in the United Kingdom.  They are responsible for this interesting bit of press on Lou Quallenberg in the UK:
June 6th, 2011 
By dukemedia_uk
The world of contemporary furniture design is replete with many great artists; those whose work is informed by abstract concepts, their designs honed by the elite design schools of Europe and America’s costal Universities. While the fruits of these designers are often spectacular, and the rewards of finance and recognition similarly so, few possess the passion to eschew this glamour to pursue the path of a genuinely traditional craftsman.

Lou Quallenberg, however, is one such man who distinguishes himself profoundly- in his life as well as his work- from this urban culture, and subverts egotism to allow nature to shape and inspire his designs. Quallenberg did not come to furniture design through the now more customary college route and was a relatively late convert to the craft, having begun his career in photography.
The New Jersey born designer was brought up in an artistic household, and his parent’s home doubled as a photographic studio. Quallenberg quickly became interested in the medium and, it was assumed that he would ultimately follow in his family’s footsteps. However, even as a teenager he displayed the need and ability to express himself in a more physical medium and, at just 15, began building and modifying chopper bikes years before the “American Chopper” television series made the practise so celebrated and lucrative.
As expected, Quallenberg began his professional artistic career in photography, shooting for premium advertisers but, as with many artists, it was love that most profoundly moved and shaped his actions rather than finance- a characteristic that would one day be expressed directly through his art. The young artist met Catherine Walker, whom he would later marry, and so enthralled by her passion for her home state of Texas, moved to Llano where the couple set up a gallery. But with a recently discovered love of and gift for woodwork, Quallenberg came under the tutelage of his father-in-law, Steven Walker, who guided his nascent abilities until he was able to find his own means for expression as a designer and a carpenter.
Keen to display his love for his adopted state of Texas, he became excited by the native Mesquite trees and their distinctive pattern and properties that made them ideal for radical furniture designs. Rather than dictating the shape of his designs in the manner of conventionally schooled designers, Quallenberg became excited by the possibilities of “Live Edge” design. Live Edge is neo-rustic style in which the designer allows the natural shape and pattern of wood to dictate the piece, creating truly individual pieces of work that elucidate an ongoing relationship between the artist and nature, between man and his environment, the results of which can be spectacular.

Echoing man’s earliest attempts to conquer his environment and bend it to his will, this primitivist approach to furniture design has become highly sought after as it is so distinct from the cold, abstract designs comprised of leather, plastic and metal that remain so popular amongst more fashionable, metropolitan designers. The concept of Live Edge as a paradigm was first contrived by Japanese-American George Nakashima in the 1940s. Nakashima was interned during the Second World War and his eyes were opened to traditional design and craft practices when taught how to use rural Japanese hand-tools by a fellow internee named Gentauro Hikogawa. Upon his release, Nakashima employed his newly learned skills shaping locally sourced wood and incorporating blemishes, knots and nooks into the designs as features of the each piece. In 1946- less than 12 months after the end of World War Two- the Japanese American won the Architects’ Gold Craftsmanship Medal, and his work went on to earn him a near legendary status that saw multiple awards and recognition in the United States and abroad, his former studio in Pennsylvania is now even on the US National register of Historical Places.

Given the historical import of the style, Quallenberg’s work has an impressive legacy to live up to which his output achieves quite spectacularly. Using the local Mesquite, the designer fashions a truly unique range of tables, beds, wardrobes and other custom items unlike any others on the market. The wood is unusually strong and dry- making it an ideal tool for the imaginative craftsman, and the beautiful colour and variance of tones provide artistic inspiration, including a convention of inserting turquoise stones into crevices to stunning visual effect. Likewise, the unusual and varied curves characteristic of the timber gives rise to highly unusual shapes that are both natural and striking in a manner that could easily grace the most contemporary and abstract displays.

There can be little doubt that Lou Quallenberg challenges many of the assumptions regarding innovative modern furniture design, but his passion is clear and the product sometimes exquisite. In both life and in art he is an iconoclast and a worthy reminder that exciting design is not confined to elite metropolitan centres, boutiques and display rooms, and that in striving for the future, artists should be wary in neglecting the richness of the past.
Lou’s website is located at
His official UK suppliers may be found at
The writer got my name wrong but Lou said he had the new Princess Catherine on the brain and besides I am his "Princess".  Awww! Things like that help make 16 years fly by. The story with photos can be found online here:

Eva's Holtzer House Cafe & Old World Catering
Passion can be tasted especially in the food of our dear friend, and "Mesquite Muse" Eva Broad.  She had a restaurant here in town “Eva’s Holtzer House Café” serving Swiss-German Style Food. Schnitzels, Certified Black Angus Rib Eye, Salmon, Leg of Lamb, Quail and more. All prepared with Fresh Handmade Sauces.  Her food creates music in your mouth touching spots you never knew you had.  Lou has a certificate from her for "Hamburgers for Life" and you can bet he likes to collect on that when he can.

Since Eva's Holzer House Cafe is gone now and you won’t likely get a chance to taste her passion for food,  I’ll tell you about another one....
Fleur de Blé  a real French bakery in Marble Falls. Owned and operated by Jean Claude and Beatrice Walter from Lyon, France. It must be passion for them to get up every morning at 1 or 2 am to start the days baking.  Their bread is incredible and oh so fresh and don't get me started on the pastry my teeth are sweet - all of them and their baking is pure magic!   Huge THANKS go out to Marta Stafford at Riverbend Fine Art (a passionate art advocate / art lover / art collector / art gallery director) for pointing us in their direction and for being such a joy to work with!


Treehouse Lab's Tung 50 Orange 

I'm sure you can smell the passion in the two above mentioned in TASTED because many argue that you cannot taste without smell.  I won't get into that argument, but I do want to take the opportunity to mention the wonderful smell of oranges the shop takes on when Lou is applying his finish.  

Lou Quallenberg currently uses a natural plant based finish, Tung 50 Orange as his standard hand rubbed finish.  It is made right here in the United States by Treehouse Lab.  It smells like oranges so no obnoxious overwhelming fumes. It is  a natural  product so it is better for him and the environment and that makes it Win/Win!


New Ad Design.What do you think?
Passion can be touched and felt in the finish of Lou Quallenberg’s Mesquite Furniture.  Well it can probably be touched, seen, smelled and heard in most of his pieces also.  Heard you ask?  Well  yes, heard "calling out" for you to touch it.

The pieces do vibrate with  his creative energy and love. But seriously we have clients that say they cannot walk by their piece without touching it.

And of course passion can be felt in the heart.  We have found ours and we hope that you have found something in your life that you feel passionate about.  If not what are you waiting for?