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Marshall Harris - Artist

Marshall Harris


Marshall Harris, artist extraordinaire, joins Fortitude for a big/little culture lesson. Harris, a former TCU football Hall of Famer turned NFL’er, discovered early on that he had a unique talent for creating art. His creativity bore the legendary Flying TCU logo and we hear the story behind it. His incredible photo-realistic graphite drawings have drawn the attention of collectors worldwide and have garnered him awards o’plenty. He earned accolades for his realistic saddle drawings, but Harris is much broader in scope. Harris details his recent artist residency/mentor project in Paris, France, which changed his life. If you are looking to be wowed, this episode deserves your attention. Let’s go art!

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Episode Transcription: 

roxo media house
all right welcome back to fortitude everybody everybody i am jw wilson my co-host to my left in our new studio
setup is one brent in payne uh we’re changing things up a bit but one thing we haven’t changed up brinton
is captex bank still our primary sponsor and we people we love very dearly would
you agree i totally agree thank you for uh sending us to dallas for our last recorded episode of the fan expo you
know they don’t they don’t really release them sequentially so it probably won’t match up with you what you’re saying around i know but i saw our guest
tattoo and talked about the living in the universe unconditionally i was just trying to put parallels in our universe here thank you so much string theory
thank you thank you captain smack one thing another thing we haven’t changed is the the and especially we’ve improved this
one is our guest we have a really interesting dude here today who guy who i’ve known for quite some time uh you’re
getting to know him a little bit more today than i am but marshall harris he is uh he’s a guy he’s about to tell
us a story we’re gonna we’re gonna tee him up but here’s a guy that you want to listen to guys he’s he’s a fan he’s a
fascinating story and he’s a fascinating artist among other things but uh thank you for being here marshall thanks
marshall thank you i’m a pleasure to be here and don’t believe anything that jw says all right well there’s some things
in here you can’t deny let’s just start this how did you guys get to know each other probably through through his arts i
became a fan and i tracked him tracked you down in an effort to be closer to you tracking is a politically correct
way of stalking i stalked him yeah no i uh when i moved back to town i
was you know doing my art and wondering where i was going to show it and i think he contacted my dad first to
figure out where i was that’s correct and then uh we had a little pow wow and
started exhibiting work at fort works art and that seems like a thousand years ago
but it was only maybe seven eight and look at us now but
but did jw did you look at the art first and then realize the tcu connect or like how did or did you know of marshall from
tcu because there’s tcu deal right well then we need to get into that let’s start the beginning before we get to that part
because that’s part of your story which is fascinating but before we get to that you are a the child of a military man mr
marshall senior martial herrera senior he traveled you around as a kid but ultimately you
wound up in fort worth going to southwest high school right where uh are you doing art at all this at this point
in your life oh yeah drawing yeah i mean i if you’re six six and you know in texas
and you’re not playing football you’re playing basketball or you’re playing baseball yeah or you’re running track
yeah or you’re doing something other than art but art was what so what kind of stuff were you drawing
at that no i just i
i did anything and everything that sort of caught my interest and i had a super cool art teacher betty smith
um and she discovered that if i just let go of the reins yeah he’ll do stuff
and so you know it was it was ceramics or it was drying or it was plaster casting or for what it you know if they
had a metal shop uh which they actually did that automotive shop back then i would have done some welding yeah but
yeah so i just that’s kind of what i did when i wasn’t being a jock right and and just just
before we get to the art piece of it a jockey word with all due respect you were you were
quite good at the high school football profession that led you to the college ranks where
when tcu came became a knock in because of your father’s uh time there he was he was a tcu hall of famer which
you would you would end up being as well at some point you went to tcu to play some ball yeah uh turns out you were
pretty good at it and that led you to the next level the nfl yeah um but during the time at tc one of one of the
big powerful points about you one of the most interesting things that i’ve always loved about you is about
1976-ish is that about right in your dorm room maybe at 77 or 76 you drew a
logo called the flying tcu or the flying t that’s i think that was when it was birthed yes and you you submitted this
or gave it to coach fa dry well the the assignment was part of a graphic
design class that i was taking and we’re doing you know developing logos and
so you know you you pick a logo that it is really bad and or or make up one for a company and
this is these relatively new classes at tcu so i thought well tcu’s logo really they
don’t really have one i mean it’s just some letters and this was way before branding or all the marketing came about
so i thought well the the mascot is a horned frog and
maybe i can make that a little more ferocious so i came up with a a drawing of a horn dragon coming out of this
emblem and then the uh was that too pagan for that school uh i thought i think it might have been
too sci-fi-ish at the time but it was very frank for zetta-ish but anyway uh so and the flying tea was
developed the same time you know because the frog would work on certain things and the flying team will work on others yeah
and uh somehow the the football department got wind of it and and i
think my position coach said hey coach dry might want to see if you want to if we can use the logo
for our letterhead and okay if i say no does that mean i don’t
get to play yeah yeah right and i said they said sure no you know i’m fine it’s just
something i we designed and uh and lo and behold you know here we are
how many years later i don’t care to count and the flying t is still
percolating oh yeah pirating happening it’s a wonderful logo i mean
it is like i copied that thing in the let the way you did that letter across like like you you brought i don’t
think it’s a really great logo in terms of how logos go well what i think it is is
the time we went to school there it was a touchstone because you know well when i went to school there and we
played ball there we were horrible and i apologize to my my players that
were played at the same time but we were not very good i mean we was there i registered a year so i played five
season we won two games and the whole time and the rest of the games we were just
be terrible you know 64 to 3 yeah 70 i think i think uh
texas beat us 74 to 2 or something like that
and they they were putting the band members on the field because you know we just couldn’t our punter had the most
yardage of any of the players he had because he would anyway so uh
where was it going were you dominating at that i mean is it fair to say you were one of the better players on the team were you were you a
dominant well that’s a tricky question i mean when everybody’s bad right you know if you’re the least or it got you a
little bit better than well i you know i joke and i say it’s it’s statistical probability
if you’re a defensive player and a defensive lineman the number of plays that you’re on the
field will help dictate a percentage of plays that you make and if your offense can only go one or
two plays and then you’re back on the field then you’re playing 75 80 percent of the game you got a lot of exposure
you get a lot of exposure and at that time the running game was was you know the deal not you know passes there were
only three things could happen in two or you when did the flying t go on the helmet though were you wearing uh
77 is when it made its debut on the uniforms okay and i
think they phased it out in 99. one or two was it was it when they wanted to so it
lasted a long time uh about 15 years i think so wait when’d you graduate 79 oh so you were working did it feel
yeah were you proud like as a player you’re you’re playing with your own design is that what does that
feel like marshall made this thing man i didn’t i didn’t think that deeply then no it was just like oh we’re going to
get our asses kicked again this week and it’s my logo but i’ve got a logo on my helmet yeah i’m really cool guys
check out my logo that’s right we’re we’re bad yeah i got a bad it’s a bad luck logo that marshall based
that’s right well actually that was one of the the uh the reason the the flying t there’s lots
of myths about why the flying t hasn’t wasn’t revived yeah and one of the was
that uh gary patterson was superstitious about it he said he didn’t want to relive those years when we were bad
and whoever would tell me that i said well you happen to recognize that the years that we were really bad were the
foundation years when people said we don’t want to ever be that bad again and when gary took
over the team had started to get better so the flying tee was part of his but it
was also i think it was on the on the uniforms of the rose bowl maybe i think i don’t think that i think it
may have been i don’t know for sure no it wasn’t with us did they ever did they ever approach you uh in an effort to
bring it into the tcu fold the flying t logo well and that’s that’s part of the the weird
so i you know i left school and i went to the to new england and and was away for 30 years and in that time i really
didn’t pay attention about a whole lot was going on here and tcu adopted it and it wound up becoming the mark for the
university it was on you know it was painted on the stadium and i painted her logo and swim pool and it was everywhere
and there was nearly no there was never any discussions about licensing or copyrights or anything so
like that so uh when i got and and through the years scott uh scott
nicks um was always a big uh supporter and you
know well marshall we gotta take and figure out how to bring the divine tea back and so there was a whole bunch of pushback from the
school for various reasons uh but when i came back in 2010 i was approached
and uh i won’t name who approached me but he said hey we have lunch and because i think the flying team might
have a chance of coming back so we have lunch and he and presents this really well done
presentation package i mean they put a lot of thought into the company they’re working with a lot of thought into you
know how to rebrand the flying tea and i said oh man that’s awesome and he said what we’re going to do for you is
on the merchandising tag we’re going to tell your story about the flying tea and how it was you know invented and
that’ll be that wouldn’t that be cool i said yeah that’s great i said but you guys have been using the
flying tee for you know 15 20 years and i never heard of anybody saying thank
you or so this go around because i know it’s going to be on all sorts of merchandise and this is a really well
thought out strategic selling package it might be a little something a little love on this way
radio silence we’re buying your lunch for you son yeah that’s right we’re going to put your name on the on the marketing tag and so over the years i’ve
tried to figure out how to take and make it happen but this year actually is going to be some interesting uh
developments i don’t know if you guys know the flying tea club we do okay they’re a sponsor one of our other shows
today yeah yeah yeah so uh the guys at the flying tea club contacted me last year when i was in
europe and they said hey we you know have now with the nil developments and uh you know we want to
take and put together a not-for-profit venture that helps some of these athletes because the owners that you
know they can make bank on their brand yeah they’re playing right next to you know some kid who you know
you know his single mom or you know they they’re they’re barely they’re struggling
to be able to to come to tcu and he said this will be an opportunity for us to
help uh one those players and then two compete competitively in the
recruiting area right and i said well if there’s anything i can do and i said well the thing you can do is let us use
the flying tee yeah i said well i’m all fine with it i said but tcu might get their knickers in a bunch
and uh but i had a meeting with uh jeremiah donati and uh i think they’ve been given the
flying tea has been given the go ahead as long as they’re not selling this stuff and as long as the
money made is going back into the school because i told the flying t guys i said i don’t have any money i’m an artist i
don’t you know i can’t donate anything but i can give you the rights to use the flying tee and all that
that’s the way i can get back to the school it’s like it sounds like a record company deal the artist who makes the
record has to ask permission of the distribution company if somebody else down the road wants to use it right
right and uh what was that thing about the universe and conditions and then you trust the universe unconditionally
it always gives you the answer that you you deserve or that is uh is the best
for you it may not be in the fashion that you want yeah so in the long run
i now have there’s now two people or two organizations that are interested in
using the flying tee in a way to give back to the university and uh so tcu may bring back the flying
tea as part of a a uh historic brand um through retro
and they’re they’re uh what’s it called not a locker anyway the vault the vault program so
and because it’s cc’s 150 anniversary i thought what a great way to take and
revive all the logos and all of that kind of stuff and make it available for a short window well thank you for sharing
that i mean it does it pops up all the time you can’t go to a game anywhere and not without seeing somebody’s shirt or
hat just pirated or made their own stuff yeah and tc i know they don’t they’re they’re working on that out we hope they
do because it’s a beloved uh iconic logo and it came from your hand so that’s a
very cool story thank you for sharing sure and it lasted for a long time like you said but back to you marshall you
you were so bad at tcu that you got drafted in the round to go to the pros uh making fun you actually
again if you have some unreasonable number of tackles as a defensive lineman because you’re on the
field the whole time right now you want to draft me okay fine but i when i got drafted
i had no i mean after the last game i had no intentions of of ever playing
football again i mean i’m you know i’m going to be a graphic designer and so when i got a call from the
new york jets office on draft day and they said congratulations you’ve been drafted by the new york jets
yeah yeah and uh but i the the caveat is i got drafted
um i was number eight in the draft and they drafted marty lyons and mark gastineau as number one and two so i
came into camp vying for the same position that two
really amazing defensive linemen were vying for so i didn’t wind up
staying with the jets i wound up getting picked up by the browns the following year you had a decent nfl career yeah
yeah you’re satisfied with the way it turned out and just compared to playing at tcu in terms of
we actually won some games and people you know didn’t throw things at you at the grocery store yeah
yeah it was nobody threw anything at me at dcu um other than insults but
uh yeah so the first year i was with cleveland uh i was part of the cardiac kids team and
we uh almost went to the playoffs had this you know crazy ice bowl thing
and there’s legend made of of the the cardiac kids that i was a part of i roomed with uh lyle alzado on the road
wow wow and so that was pretty true and i went out and trained with them during the summers so it was
the browns years were were interesting the the year i went to uh new england
it was one of those i you know had no i don’t care if i play you know i got picked up and yeah i’ll do my best so i
end up playing there in my and then my agent called me about the middle of the season he said hey you
know there’s this thing called the usfl happening and they’re giving guaranteed contracts
and i said what does that mean he says well you sign a contract which is and it’s binding on the team so if you
get hurt or they cut you or anything they still have they’re obligated for the contract
i said is there anything like that in the nfl he said no nothing i said well let’s investigate it so i wound up
signing a contract the day before thanksgiving with the new jersey generals
and the day after thanksgiving i was asked to bring my playbook to see ron myers who’s the head coach at the with
the new england patriots so they did not the nfl did not see the transition to a new league and
and it was not in their good graces but i wound up playing with herschel walker and brian’s sight well brian was with me
with the with the browns right was with him and uh the rest is history i retired in 85 or
86. what are you drawing and doing stuff creatively all along that just stops when you’re playing well i uh when i was
playing and i was it was about the game it was about being a ball players about working out it was you know just being a
knucklehead yeah and spending every penny i had and um
it wasn’t until i well when i was with the browns i take that back when i was with the browns i
uh interned at a couple of the local ad agencies because i had a degree in commercial art
and they said hey it’d be great pr for us to have a cleveland brown as
an art director so i got in to my beginning profession right before
i actually retired from football and so that was one of the only smart maneuvers that i sort of
made when i was was playing and then after i retired transitioned into advertising and marketing yeah before we
get to that piece uh real quickly people know the name lyle elzado what was who was lal elzado to you if you
mind describing your lyle zeta was like a lost brother to me uh and he uh lyle his persona
it was he was very hollywood i mean he was big and you know i’ve never seen a man throw
things as easily as he did super super strong and um
tremendous motivated ferocious competitor uh but in life he had the same sort of
foibles that all of us had you know and uh he was he was a great my rookie year i i roomed with him and
um and then after the season was over so seymour shawn should come out and train with me during the summer i’ve got a
guest house she can stay i live in brentwood and uh we’ll just work out and i went
out there and lived for for three months and we’d get up in the morning and go to goals and work out for two and a half
hours and then we’d go eat breakfast and then we’d go do yoga and then we’d go run this the concrete mountain then we
go back in the afternoon and work out for another two and a half hours geez it was and i went from
255 to 295 with a six percent body fat unreal i came back and they just went
oh what happened all protein shakes nothing other synthetic going in there unfortunately no
and you know if you know the story of lyle lauzado if uh if one vitamin c is good i’m gonna take
12. mm-hmm and uh at the time you know actually
the the world of competitive athletics you do what you need to to stay competitive because if you don’t
there are 100 people waiting to take and step right into your position yeah and so at the time
people frowned upon it but when i came back at 295 the brown said we think we know what you’ve
been doing we just want to make sure that you’re healthy want to take and do blood count work on you each week
and uh so they didn’t say don’t do it but they you know uh wanted to make sure that it didn’t affect your health yeah
but um anyway that’s incredible so moving along to your advertising
period of your life after football uh obviously you’re doing things that are creative and artistic and that that
period of your life led you to it to obviously to where we are to today and where you’ve been for a while
with your with your artistic ability which is significant i think uh maybe this is a bold statement but your
graphic drawings is where i got to know you where i think you stand out your your your giant among
mentally and physically and everything you are bigger than most in that world the graphic design you do i believe
you’d be one of the greatest that i’ve seen and i’ve seen a lot you your humble nature suggests otherwise but
you’re you’re a fantastic artist in the graphite world marshall so uh when did you realize that you had
a talent to make this a career or have you yet when i found out that i didn’t want to do
whatever else i was been doing i had to figure out what i didn’t want to do before i could figure out what i did wanted yeah and that took me almost
was my mid 50s so is that when you went to pennsylvania then and got the was there a degree that
you got yeah i went back to school well i uh worked in the advertising business uh i
worked in new york when i left the jets i i worked there for six months before i came back to um uh texas to train for um
for the browns but anyway uh so i’ve always been creatively involved but when you’re in advertising
and marketing you’re you’re using your ideas for somebody else and you’re creating you know marketing campaigns or
advertisements or television commercials or eventually i was doing um a
museum interactives and educational programs and stuff like that so you’re always using your creative
juices for somebody else and uh i think you know the story about being in new york on 9 11. i was about to ask you
yeah so i was uh setting up a trade show for one of my clients and uh on 9 11 and i uh
that morning i flew in the night before and had plans on having breakfast at the top of the
world uh the next morning and but you have to be on the showroom floor about 8 30 when things really
start getting busy so i decided well i’ll walk down to the jabbit center from my hotel it was a
beautiful morning and walked down and uh and we got started and there’s four
trucks driving all over the place construction people electricians it’s just crazy
and the next day was when the trade show was going to open so we had to get the booth up and uh
and about i guess it was about 8 30 8 40. everything got really really eerily quiet and the
fork trucks weren’t driving around and i went over to the the stage where all the the workers are distributed from
and the guy was saying there’s something happened at the trade center we don’t know what it is but we’ve been told by the federal government to take and pack
up what you can carry and leave the building and so when i walked out of the jabbit
center you can see the towers from the front of the javits center and one of them wasn’t there anymore
and i i talked to the lady next to me i said what happened to the other tower and she
said it just fell down oh wow what what transpired next for you i said it fell down
and she said yeah something really really bad happened and it was that day i went to central park and spent a lot
of time just sort of reflecting well that’s this is all going on yeah and what’s weird is the people in central
park are having picnics and plain frisbee and all sorts of stuff because they’ve they live in a city that
terrible things happen every day there’s nothing they can do about it so they’re just you know they’re carrying on with
their lives it’s it’s it’s incredible how it impacted the city after that it took me three days to get out but in
those three days i decided well that’s what i was doing was not making me happy
yeah and so i need to do something else and it took me another couple years to figure out i was going to go back to school
and that’s when i wound up at the university arts uh pursuing a master’s degree in sculpture
and [Music] somewhere along there i figured out that making flat art is a lot easier than
making physical big pieces of sculpture and that’s when i started drawing when did
you come back to fort worth 2010 10 okay yeah so you’re making art you’re doing all these things we mentioned prior to
this uh you won a big prize in 2013 the hunting prize that kind of i don’t put
you on the map already because i my opinion is that you’re already on the map but that obviously catapulted you
well not bad it’s not a bad thing to put on your resume if for you know the art world uh at least people in texas knew
what it was about because it was a prize the hunting corporation is a big
oil and gas you probably know them because they make all sorts of machinery and they do all sorts of
things right where they have this this art prize that they had hosted and uh they you have to be a texas artist and
you can only enter one piece and then they have a curatorial team of
renowned experts come in and judge it and they pick one piece to win the prize
and uh you know i’m new to texas and i’m drawing these things these western saddles because what i was drawing
before was naked people and i figured maybe saddles might be a little more marketable and so i entered one of the
saddles and it won and it did you have multiple ones did you have to choose which one you were going to submit at the time at the time
i had only drawn one saddle oh no kidding that was a round up yeah that was the very first one yeah
and uh and it made me really happy because it was like oh okay maybe there’s and and the con
hunting corporation purchased it for their their corporate uh collection right so not only did i win the prize
but i also sold the piece yeah and so i thought well maybe these saddles are marketable
and so that’s really become the bread and butter of my practice how did you get into drawing the saddles when i
first moved back here of course i you have a thesis project in
university and uh and i had decided i was going to draw life-size human figures and
replicate every detail so if you had a scar or bruise that would show up in the drawings
and so i finished my thesis when i moved back to fort worth i looked around and it fort worth has
changed but it’s not as progressive as philadelphia or you know los angeles or
as i thought maybe i need to draw something that’s a little more kind of in the fort worth and i went to
this the um the cutting horse exhibition and went to the trade show and they’ve got you know
these big huge trailers and they’ve got all sorts of horse tack and you know everything you can think about about you
know raising horses and these really beautifully create crafted saddles and i looked at one and i went
maybe that’s it each one of those has got a design a specific use it’s got
it’s like a functional piece of art so maybe i’ll draw one of those and uh i was in a
tuskys at a retail store down on west seventh at the time and michael teske was the
owner um their their main gig is out in weatherford and he probably has 300
saddles that are all everything from just a beat up working saddle to an amazing show saddle that people have
given him because they don’t have anything to do with them and so that was that around that roundup is where i found that was in one of his
retail stores so i contacted him and said i’d like to photograph and draw it and that’s how it happened so you know
and i’ll go ahead i was just saying you’re not and you’ve done many many saddles now and they’re in collections
all over the place in some really high high profile collections but you’re not just a saddle guy we’ve talked before
over the years that’s not just all you do and you don’t want to be pigeonholed i don’t believe is being the saddle guy
as part part of the part of the how things work but you’ve done so many other things with
your art that i’ve seen the toe tag uh yeah the exhibit was fantastic and some of
your skulls and some of your new modern pieces that’s that’s that’s uh a little confusing for the art world because
there were likes to take and pigeonhole you yes and figure out you know where you fit
and because i do um [Music] utilize the i say the medium dictates
uh or the idea dictates the medium and so i may come up with an idea that it’s just not practical to draw it it means
it needs to be a three-dimensional piece or a video or you know something and so i’ll create
the the saddles have become the uh the known bread and butter um and sort of the
75 percent of the practice right and the other stuff that i do is me going to recess
and uh and so i show it uh with the anticipation that some of it
might sell and some of it i might just own forever and uh but i’ve been very very fortunate
and through uh associations and you know with jw and lauren and uh the guys at cufflink now
and some people in you know other cities um i finally found something that i really
enjoy doing and can see doing it until i can’t do it anymore so every article i’ve read says
that you do in your drawings pick out the imperfections and things so is there is there a theme is there something
subliminal in that you know something that you’re trying to purvey with that and do saddles you know some of those saddles are so
like beautiful in the way they’ve done do they have imperfections too so the kind of like two-part question uh so yes
so the answer is uh yes the imperfections
or the design tell you a lot about who the saddle was made for what use
they used it for uh jp bryan who’s a [Music]
guy down and he’s out of houston he’s a he’s a financial guy out of houston and he’s also the texas number one historian
he’s got a museum he wound up moving his his offices to galveston
well he shut his off he closed his offices down and moved his collection from in his office like kind of like this
to a building that they purchased and he’s probably got 300 saddles and i had a
great meeting with him and he said if if you become a proficient at reading the saddle looking
at the wear on the saddle looking how it’s designed you can tell who who used it what work
they did uh and where they were so if the the candle of the back of the saddle is high and rounded chances are they
working in high plains so that when you’re going up a hill they don’t slide out of the back if it’s flat and low
they’re probably doing roping work and you know and and bulldoggers want to take and be able to slip out of the saddle really easy
um and all of those the the show saddles that are designed and each one is a as a
masterpiece work of art that actually is functional and uh so that’s that’s the the history
and there’s a there’s a japanese term called wabasabi and it it speaks of the character that
an object gains with use so something that’s brand new it’s it’s
brand new it has no character to it but it’s been in the family for several generations and the teacup is cracked
and we’re going to take and fix that crack with gold inlay those all those imperfections tell a story and so those
are the the things that i look for really in all my works is those underlying things that
our lives are so hurried that we blow by those those uh details
and so my underlying hopes are that no matter what i do art wise it slows you down enough to
take and look at it and notice one of those imperfections and go why did he draw that you know what
what’s the importance of that scratch in the leather on that fender of this you know this saddle where did
that come from it’s so good yeah i asked that but most people would be like why would he draw that it just you should
make it perfect yeah or you know like why would he why would he add that that’s the beauty behind being an artist
is we are visual editors so we can add or subtract what we believe to be
uh more important for the presentation or the story yeah what are you working on today currently i’ve got another i’ve
got a saddle that is uh the owner is uh lives up in bend oregon
and it’s his grandfather’s saddle it’s called grandpa’s ride and his grandfather is a first generation italian
who moved to houston and started raising brahma bulls and became very very successful at it
and this was his grandfather’s working saddle so it’s nothing uh has almost no silver work on it it’s
very you know it’s a used saddle but the uh patina and the wear markings and uh all that
sort of stuff is what’s challenging and drawing nice where do you do you go on these hunts for these saddles with
stories like is that part of your uh kind of yeah i mean i’ve got a uh the next series of saddles that i’m doing uh
i’m focusing on historic uh figures throughout western and mexican history
and and native american history and so i just voted went up to
the wool rock reserve this is it’s up in oklahoma where um
they have a buffalo bill saddle they’ve got a whole bunch of stuff but what i was interested
in is this buffalo bill saddle uh they’ve got one from teddy roosevelt a whole bunch of other ones
but uh the figures i’m looking at is two hollywood figures somebody like gene autry and rory rogers
uh somebody in black cowboy culture uh two women either as part of the true
western pioneering or you know somewhere uh in that and then uh first americans i’m looking for
and it’s very difficult to find artifacts for our first americans
because they were so utilitarian not too many things exist anymore the originals
yes can you ride a horse oh yeah is there a horse uh small enough for you to are big enough excuse me for you to it’s
called the bercharon it’s like it’s like clydesdale yeah but bigger yeah and uh yeah one of my uh
one of my ex-wives told me i could get you a horse but it’s going to be a clydesdale well on that note i mean your hands are
huge do you use one of those little um expanders on the pencil like i mean i
got to think you would you would giggle if you saw me drawing because it’s like the grip is well i use i use a
an extension on the pencils but that’s just because if you’re drawing way over there and you’re drawing with the tip of a pencil
you got to get your arm way over there this allows me some extension because my drawings are always quite large
and i can only reach so far i’d work on a flat surface i need to figure out how to they can work on a vertical surface
but um but i use uh mechanical pencils
um the work is is i mean i have a jeweler’s loop that i use oh he looks like a mad scientist i’ve seen you
before yeah and a cool contraption i got well it’s basically a you know magnifier
that you put on and if you’re working on watches or you’re working on jewelry it gets you right up there
but when i’m replicating stitch work on a on a saddle and these things are you know like an eighth inch long and you
don’t want to draw them so they’re accurate yeah well i mean is it like are you on a fibrous paper yeah the paper is
called mylar so it’s a synthetic paper yeah and it resembles a vellum or like a
really thick tissue paper so it’s kind of translucent oh yeah but because it’s a synthetic paper the
graphite just floats around on the top and you can literally paint with it so uh i’ve had some discussions with
people about you know the word draw is kind of awkward so would i could i be a
like a graphite painter yeah technically i i am literally because i’m uh
moving the figment the pigment although it’s dry um is there just like a smudge factor though with moisture and stuff
then uh well you’re asking some good questions sorry like you get i’m in the zone yeah
uh that’s what you do you don’t have a script marshall yeah yeah yes i’m free
yeah so yeah the great thing about mylar is uh you i can create uh photo like
qualities and so people will argue with me that my drawings are photos and i’ll say no here look around the back you can see the pencil work but from the front
it all blends or you don’t see any pencil lines and again that’s because i take q-tips and i make all the pencil lines go away
yeah and that’s the beauty behind my larva is because it doesn’t have a fiber it doesn’t grab on to the graphite the
only problem is it’ll pick up a fingerprint like nobody’s business and i learned this uh in doing one of
the nudes that i was working on before i came down to texas and uh it was a life-size uh female
frontal pose and i’m working on her her thigh and and literally the graphite is like
you know almost not there yeah and so i’m with the cotton ball i’m rubbing the you know smoothing it all out and
there’s a hand print on her thigh and once you get oil on this mylar you
can’t get it off i mean you can you can erase it and stuff but the mind it changes the
characteristics of the surface so i had obviously leaned on to the the surface
with my bare hand and it picked up the hand oils yeah so i never do that again
nice all right so all this all this stuff you’re doing is wonderful and
everybody who knows you appreciate what you do but you have just just recently done something even
not not better but completely out of your wheelhouse you’ve done an artist’s residency in over in paris in france
yeah last just last year right last fall i believe yeah uh this there’s been stories written about this i’ve read
many of them i’ve talked to you about this you’ve given artists talks about this you’ve done some cool stuff we wanted to spend a few minutes talking
about this and the experience that you guys had with your current wife june naylor harris who we love writer for the
star telegram she’s lovely uh great job there by the way great pick yeah
i’m the beneficiary of that that that union so tell us about this artist residency please so you’d ask earlier
about this tattoo trust the universe unconditionally this is a great example of you may not know where you’re going
but if you’re making excellent time you’re still heading the right direction and that that’s white like show the
camera because well you can’t you can’t see it because i’m i’m i’m tragically untanned this year but when you tan that
thing it shows it shows up yeah and and i had it done in white because my mom really doesn’t like tattoos yeah so good
idea she frowns anyway so um so i’m working at fort worth’s art
and lauren has been gracious enough to take and give me a studio space as part of her gallery of dreams project it’s a
501c3 uh thing and so she said well how would you like to work at the gallery i said okay that’d be great so i had this
studio space and it wasn’t secured so i couldn’t lock it when they had an event
or they had an opening and so i’d always have to go up and do a dog and pony show
and this particular time it was one of these that i was in a particularly foul mood and i didn’t want to do it and i
went up there anyway and uh jovi rhoden who’s a
friend of became a friend of mine she’s a collector she has some of my work came
in and brought some of her friends and one guy was named monty laster and monty sounds just like anybody from
texas he has a home out in santo and that’s where he met jovi
but he also lives in in paris and he’s lived in paris since he was 19 on and off
um and you know that he’s parisian when he breaks into fluent french
and so i was introduced to monty and over the next six months we had a
number of discussions and uh monty explained to me about he’s a he’s a very successful interior designer
uh but we didn’t find that out until much much later after we were over in europe we found that out but his passion
is doing what’s called a social engagement process there’s another word for it but it basically means he puts
people together that you wouldn’t think would go together and they do a project
and the he explains that the art is what happens between the people and he said i’d like to bring you over
and have you do a residency because early in our conversations i told him i said you know i think what you do is
really cool and so if you ever need you know like an assistant or something if you’ve got some heavy rocks to move or something
i’ll come over and i’ll hang out you know and and so he he put this project together and the way
things happen over there is you come up with a project you pitch it to the different organizations are going to be involved
and they fund it so uh he asked me he said well i have this
idea i want to take and bring you over for three months do you think you’d be interested in that i said well give me a minute
of course i would yeah so a week ago and i talked to him i said you know june is
a great journalist and i think this this warrants the story
being documented and so i brought her along and so we lived on the outskirts of paris
in a uh an area called sandini and we worked with two middle school classes
one was a french students learning english and another is a pe class and then i worked with the american rules
football club called the flash which they t they coach american rules football there so i was working
with two middle school classes and this uh it was the kids were probably 13 16 19 years
old this uh football program and and i don’t speak french
so there was this language hurdle that had to be but monty said don’t worry about it it’ll it’ll it’ll all work out
and so most of the time i had absolutely no idea what we were doing [Music]
the umbrella theme was resilience and so working and talking to the kids about
what resilience means and covid because it the world over there is just like the world over here they had to learn
remotely yeah the project actually got postponed for for six months because we were originally supposed to go over
there was the spring and they had a big i mean they were locked down you couldn’t leave your home
locked down yeah and uh so the numbers came down enough that we went ahead and had the project and we got this little
sweet window that uh we came over but we had to be fully vast nobody messed around with with mask
you’d basically just put them on anywhere you went and we spent three of probably the most
uh informative and um life-changing months
of both june’s and my my life and working and working with people from another
lots of different worlds uh where languages were all over the place and we felt as embraced as we do here in fort
worth and it was just an amazing amazing experience coming back home though you guys experienced uh you got to break
from this reality to that reality come back home i think you’ve spoken about this but
it kind of makes you hypersensitive to the things we do here that are so vastly different there and vice versa yeah the
issues we take for granted well i think that our primary takeaway was everything you
hear about europeans unless you go to europe don’t believe it because we have
all been told well the french are rude and they’re not rude they’re just indignant to
rude americans and so if you don’t go over and and at least attempt to
practice civility and manners yeah everywhere you go you walk
into a store bonjour madame bonjour
that’s just customary that that initiates conversations you would have to take your head out of
your phone to do that though would you have to look up for well so you know not to belabor those when you
are in a place for that long and that’s specifically what i told monty i said i want to be in a place that i’m no longer
a tourist i want to become part of the the community fabric and he put us in a
place that we were that we were outside of paris so we were not parisians we were other and other is
uh they’re from turkey from pakistan from south and north america africa
they’re mediterranean there are a million languages spoken if you hear french it’s a second language and every
one of these people was from somewhere else and we were embraced like we belonged
i don’t know of many places in america if you walk in and you look different or speak differently that you’re not
treated differently and because europe is a place is um it
operates differently and maybe because we were insulated we didn’t understand the language and so maybe they were having the same
discussions but because we were in french we didn’t hear it but we were insulated from all of the the political
banter all of the media all of the stuff that we’re bombarded with every day and um
well there’s this human factor to that right just like looking at somebody in their eyes and
i mean we’re not we’re just listening to you but you can tell we’re listening to you there’s something that exists there
right that’s not language dependent you know that that is just it’s a human thing in my opinion um we function
differently in the states and it’s it’s only apparent when you get out of the states and you see just how differently
we function and i’m not passing judgment on it’s good or bad but what we did understand is
in paris uh in france and in other countries we weren’t we visited uh belgium
europeans they work to live they don’t live to work
and so um work is looked at as what you have to do
to take a making a living and but life is what you’re there to enjoy so conversations are like this
you don’t turn on the tv and netflix all the time we watched very little television while we were there
we read and what we went to tons of museums it was all there were so many things there that were just
culturally available that you have to you know get a ticket for here did you
create anything while you were there i i did a little bit i mean a lot of the energy usually an artist’s residence you
go and you do your work and i was given a studio space it was in a 100 year old mill it was super cool
uh when i say it when i say cool is like you were put in in old world france in this
kind of mill that overlooked a garden and you had to see it to understand the
coolness part of it because other people would go that’s kind of that’s beyond rustic but that’s where the studio was but
because it was working with all these different entities most of my week was spent putting together presentations or
uh working with the football team the coach it was the first time he had
coached contact football at this level he had coached flag football for four years
before coach olivier spoke no english there were a couple of kids on the
defensive line which i was helping that understood enough english they could translate so i was there as an assistant coach
with coach olivier coaching up these kids in defensive line techniques and he was as much of a rookie as i was yeah so
he came in with no you know skill stuff and between the beginning and when i we
ended i worked up we worked up through emails and depl a translation app i gave
him a a skills drill packet of 22 drills 11 for
running play situations 11 for pass play situations and and it was a
it was a circling back that i never figured out how my art and athletics would reconnect
but monty made that happen and you know i can’t express to the folks that i worked with over there just
how how deeply impacted me on a level of see i don’t know how
these things are ever going to take and reconnect right but you tag any buildings with the flying t over there i
was like did you help them did you help with their logo maybe no i mean they they are uh you need to look up the flash in lockhart
the the professional team people don’t know this but american rules football is second to soccer in
europe like about cricket in in but there are 230 teams that are spread all over europe every one of them’s just
got a badass name and this organization was the one that began it all
and bruno is the general manager and when he was about his about
graduating from college or getting ready to graduate from college he came to the states this is 40 years ago right and he
saw this thing called american football and he and his buddy were over here and he said wouldn’t it be great if we could do this in france
so they got a sponsor to give them enough money to buy uh 11 helmets and 11
shoulder pads and they came back over to lock our new which is a really uh it’s a no-go zone so unless you live
there you don’t go there but because they started this organization uh it now offers all sorts of outreach
programs educational programs on drugs on on kids being bullied in schools they teach
soccer tennis yeah admit all sorts of things anyway did you and june ever have the discussion
what are we doing here let’s go back to paris did that cover come up uh
about every morning yeah no well there i mean i’m you know i’m i’m
66 years old and i’m you know i can i can draw and paint anywhere i want to yeah uh it’s not like i have to be in
fort worth um but yeah we’ve had discussions about the the the
the things that we appreciated we put in easily 10 000 15 000 steps a day because
because mass transit there is uh subways or trams or buses or you walk a
lot and you know we come back to the states and we want to do as much walking as we did and well what are we going to do drive and
park a mile and a half away from tom’s thumb and go get our groceries and walk back you know that’s just that’s how you
had to do it but the climbing here well you can’t when it’s 106 degrees
i’ll spontaneously human glass walking from tom thumb with my ice cream
there yeah yeah so uh so those are the some of the things we’d like to figure out how
to replicate here if we can um but yeah the discussions of
uh south of france portugal somewhere like that might be in our future well marshall we have appreciated your time
here the last question we ask our guests every every time we have something somebody significant and you fill in
that category well uh besides marriage and children what is the best day of
your whole life if you could pick one today today i don’t know if i believe you but uh is
there an is there another one besides
no because uh if you if you look at a day that could be the shittiest day of your life
you’re learning something on that day excuse me and so to take and pick out you know the birth of my children you
know super day the the the waking up in the morning and just realizing you’ve got another day of
breath and something to do with it should be the best day and that was probably the
takeaway lesson of 9 11 is i was supposed to have breakfast on the top of a tower that got run into by a plane
that morning and if something hadn’t happened and i had not been there uh it was a really crappy day but it taken it
took and changed the trajectory of my life and so the best day of your life is the current day that you’re living you should make
it that way yes sir awesome answer where can people find your work um instagram uh marshall k harris art uh
facebook i’m i’m showing at cufflink um here in fort worth uh just
google me up awesome marshall harris thank you man we love you great job thank you appreciate it thank you captex
bank we love you too thanks mike [Music]