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Texas Musician Joe Ely & Daughter Showcase 'Lostbound' Travels in Art

This story was originally published on Nov. 29.

Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis: They’re all famous musicians who also moonlighted as visual artists.  

Now, Joe Ely – the Flatlander known by many as the Springsteen of the Southwest – joins their ranks. Ely has been keeping sketches, drawings and photographs since he began life on the road in his teens traveling the U.S. and Europe.

“When I first left home, I always carried a notebook, sketchbook, pen and later, watercolors in my guitar case – always kinda making notes,” Ely says. “Where I was, who I ran into, different stories I ran into up and down the road. Because … from the time I was 16 I left home and was travelling all over the United States, and then Europe.”

Now, a show titled Lostbound Memory, featuring works by Ely and his daughter Marie, is now on display in downtown Austin. In putting the show together, the pair discovered some surprising similarities in their work.

Marie, Ely’s only child, is a photographer. She followed in her father’s footsteps by traveling across the country and living in Europe. But it was here in Texas – out in West Texas to be exact – where Marie found the most inspiration.

“[A lot of my work] is from Marfa," Marie Ely says. “I moved there when I stopped going to art school. I mean it’s so beautiful out there. I was very inspired by the landscape … the desert and the light.”

Joe and Marie Ely’s show features their work paired side by side, documenting the places they’ve been. Much of it is the vast landscapes and towns across West Texas. Many pieces were created decades apart, on different media and of varying subjects.

“There was one drawing I did in New York City,” Ely says. “It was simply a watercolor painting of a Number 2 pencil on a sheet of music paper. I had that buried down, way down, in some suitcase and hadn’t even looked at it in years. And Marie, when she was in art school in San Francisco, actually did a 3-D piece with a a Number 2 pencil, almost exactly laid out the way that mine was. So there were little accidents like that, that added to the show.”

Lostbound Memory, will be on display at The Den on Third Street until Jan. 5.

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