JULY 4: ‘It Tapes a Village’ Citadelle exhibit brings local history to life

The Citadelle Art Foundation brought tape art to the Panhandle in October 2017. Michael Townsend and Leah Smith created more than a dozen scenes all over Canadian for the Fall Foliage Festival, using only special green and blue tape—and their boundless imagination. The theme was the use of drones in modern life.

That project earned The Citadelle a Golden Touch Award in April 2018, given by the Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council Art Committee’s 36th Annual Golden Nail Awards. That October, Michael and Leah were back in town to lend their taping talents to historical stories of Canadian.

The twist was this—for the first time in the 30-year history of tape art, the artists were convinced by CAF Director Wendie Cook to preserve a key character from each mural for display in the museum’s art gallery.

Normally, their tape art is taken down in 24 hours. It was a real stretch for them to consider anything other than a temporary display.

But, Cook was persuasive, and the exhibit took hold, what they call a “temporarily permanent” exhibit. Alongside each preserved character are pages from The Canadian Record archives relating to that figure. There also is a photo of the original installation from which the piece was retrieved. Artifacts from the characters’ stories were assembled for the exhibit that Cook curated.

When “Tape Art: It Tapes a Village” opened in a February event, attendees were encouraged to use post-it-notes to share their own connections with the tape-art characters. Later, elementary students have done so. As a result, the exhibit pieces are now festooned with post-its.

The exhibit features former Canadian mayor Oofie Abraham whose story is about the time in the 1950s when Santa Fe relocated 150 families to Amarillo, virtually overnight. Another piece features 11-time NRA National High-Power Rifle Champion David Tubb in a story involving a bullwhip, a porcupine, and a team of Navy Seals.

Frank “Toppy” Clark was a former slave who served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and later as a Buffalo Soldier in Texas. After his discharge, he moved to Mobeetie in 1882. By 1900, Toppy had settled in Canadian and made it his home. He was widely respected. At his funeral, community members in 40 cars joined the procession to pay respects.

The exhibit is contemporary art and unique—with surprising, and seemingly impossible, details. The whole effect is a different take on local history.

At the opening, Cook said, “I just want you to remember that where you are, how your life is shaped, is because of the people who came to Canadian before us … and aren’t we thankful for all of those things ….”

The exhibit will be on display through the July 4 weekend. The Citadelle Art Museum is open Tuesday–Saturday, from 11 am until 4 pm.

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