For the creative that walk among us, inspiration is always right around the corner, and it can come from something as simple as getting a haircut. And that is the story behind the story of the upcoming “Celebrating Navasota” photography exhibit at The Gallery Downtown, Thursday, June 10.
The man responsible for approximately 30 canvas prints and the soon-to-be-released book, Celebrating Navasota, is Tim Gregg. Gregg is a man of many talents ranging from award-winning sportscaster to public relations guru for Southwestern Bell (AT&T) and tobacco giant Phillip Morris, sponsor of the Women’s Tennis Association Tour. He is also an author currently working on his eighth and ninth books, one of which is Celebrating Navasota.
Trading the corporate coat and tie for a chambray shirt and jeans, Gregg now resides in College Station with wife, former NASA astronaut Nancy Currie-Gregg. Currie-Gregg is currently a Professor of Engineering Practice, Industrial & Systems Engineering and Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University.
According to Gregg, it was during his visits to hair stylist Kimmie Porter, formerly of Lizzy’s and now Southern Charm, that he became enamored with Navasota.
Gregg said, “Every time I came over here, I just loved the place! I don’t know if Navasota is unique but the preservation of the past here in the homes, in the artwork, right here along Railroad Street, there’s a lot of foresight in that. I was taken.”
His discovery of a website called Day Tripping Navasota introduced him to old pictures of places that had been designated as historically significant by the Texas Historical Commission.
Gregg said, “I thought, I want to see those. Every time I came to get my haircut, I’d drive around to look at those places.”
Gregg’s fascination with the “quirky vibe” of College Station’s South College Avenue had prompted him to try to capture the nostalgia of places like Martin’s Barbecue which opened in 1925 and is one of few barbecue joints with a Texas Historical Commission marker.
Gregg said, “Ultimately, I put together a collection of what I called artwork but what I decided to do was to use modern technology to make these pictures look like paintings.”
Speaking about Navasota, Gregg said, “This is South College Avenue all over again. I initially wanted to take that same approach but there is so much detail in so many of these old homes that you don’t want to lose. Most are in pretty remarkable shape or being restored as we speak.”
He continued, “I’ve taken over 100 shots. In the canvas collection, there’s about 30 images that I thought were worthy of display in this fashion. I’m really excited about sharing this with the community.”
There is one Navasota couple especially touched by Celebrating Navasota - Dominque and Julie Dierlam. While listening to Gregg’s presentation at the May 10 city council meeting, Julie was surprised to see a photo of their 1894 home, “Tallulah” in Gregg’s book.
Julie said, “Her name means ‘Leaping Water.’ We took a big leap of faith to come here, and she is on Water Street. Her name just fits.”
The Dierlams closed on the house in July 2018 and began the structural, electrical, and plumbing work the very next month. Over the course of the remodel, the couple found hidden treasures like the 1904 newspaper in a wall, and another wall with a signature dated 1931, both of which documented significant changes to the house.
Dierlam said, “It was heartwarming to have an artist see the beauty of our home. To have an outsider notice was just wonderful. When Grant Holt held up the book to show us, we both got teary eyed.”
Imagine the past
Gregg said, “My ultimate objective is to try to replicate this project in other small towns across Texas. You drive by these places all the time but when you’re forced to study them in a piece of art or a photograph, you get drawn in and you imagine what the past might have been like.”
He continued, “The website will ultimately be a full companion to the book and collection. What will be in the book will be on the website and give me a chance to go beyond the books as new ideas and new suggestions come along. I really encourage people if they have thoughts, to share them.”
The Celebrating Navasota reception is 6 – 8 p.m., Thursday, June 10 at The Gallery Downtown, 101 E. Washington Avenue. For more information about the book, to view sample images, or for links to additional information about Tim Gregg, go to www.celebrating navasota.com.