Take a Trip to Pauls Valley

Take a Trip to Pauls Valley


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There are many challenges to full-time road life. Twelve hours on the side of the expressway in Texas is still probably one of the most memorable, but we also go through tires like nobody’s business, run our laundry machines outside (there’s nowhere to plumb them in our camper), and occasionally find ourselves driving all night to get to a safe place to sleep.

However, life on the road means that we get to see some incredible people and places. Of all the adventures of the last couple of months, one of my favorites was visiting Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. One of our wonderful friends was raised there, and she took us to see her hometown and visit one of her high school classmates.

Kevin Stark owns and runs the Toy & Action Figure Museum and the Stark Art Studio & Gallery. The fact is, Kevin’s creativity could use a few more buildings to house it all! The displays he currently has set up in the museum range from a collection of Avengers-themed cereal boxes to a “collector’s bedroom” display absolutely covered with thousands of figures and collectibles. In the back is a room full of Star Wars toys and memorabilia (including some of the original “empty box” promotions and toys from 1977). It’s an impressive display, and only a fraction of the collection that Stark has amassed; some of which come from his own work as one of the artists helping get toys and figures from the planning stages into production.

A room with art on the walls

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In addition to the artwork he’s done in the toy industry, Kevin has a gallery down the street from the Toy & Action Figure Museum. The gallery, too, has handfuls of collectibles and toys spread around, adding to the quirky fun of it all (although it’s hard to add more fun than the giant squid on the ceiling). On one wall are his annual self-portraits in a wide variety of styles. Across the workspace full of Red Kittens and Paisley Portraits is a stage area for the concerts Kevin hosts. In true Stark style, there’s no rehearsals or printed music, just suggestions. The musicians in the band show up, get introduced to the concept of the story they’re playing background music for, and play. It’s called a Squeaky Burger, and it’s all improvised. Kevin says, “It’s rock music played like jazz.”

In the next year, we’ll get to see more of Kevin’s work as he illustrates the children’s book Robert has written. We’re excited about the project, and about having someone so talented and creative on board!

[Elizabeth Fontenot is a reader, crafter, designer, and former language arts teacher who lives in a camper with her husband Robert, her cat Nikabrik, and an uncomfortable number of typewriters. They travel the eastern U. S. bringing Carpe Librum to conventions, craft shows, and other events.]

Be awesome. Read books.


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