Jax film influencer does festival in Texas at site of Stonehenge II

Stonehenge II in Odessa, Texas; photo by Billy Hathorn
Stonehenge II, a replica of the original, found a home in Odessa, Texas. (Photo credit Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia)

I had drinks with Jared Rush the night before he had to catch an early morning flight to Texas. Rush was invited to serve as vice president of the West Texas Film Festival in Odessa. As always, Jared was excited about meeting up with all the filmmakers, fans, and various creatives involved in indie filmmaking. What most don’t know is that in a city with approximately 116,000 residents, there is an opportunity to see Stonehenge II.

Jared Rush (left) served as vice president of the West Texas Film Festival. Harlan Whatley (right) serves as director. (Photo used with permission)

If you look at photos, Stonehenge II is so similar to the original Stonehenge, it’s hard to tell them apart. The replica in Odessa has some slight variations when it comes to size, but by accounts in media, the art installation on the campus of the University of Texas at the Permian Basin could just about function as a body double if Stonehenge was human.

Originally conceived by private landowners in Texas, Stonehenge II ended up being moved after one of the landowners decided to sell his property. That is how a near-perfect replica of the original ended up in Texas. According to website Texas Hill Country, the replica “was created 90% as wide and 60% as high as the original.”

Jared Rush with directors at Horror Panel, West Texas Film Festival.
Jared Rush (third from left) hosted a horror panel with film directors. Shown here (left to right) are Billy Pon, Daniel Rodriguez, and (far right) James Fite. (Photo used with permission)

Doesn’t that perfectly fit a setting for a film festival?

At Whiskey Jax where Rebecca performed on Wednesday, I told Jared I want to go to the festival next year and I want to see Stonehenge II. Imagine the inspiration.

Jared will be back in Jacksonville this week, but he sent me a couple photos—one is from a group that was part of a panel on horror films. The other photo shows Jared with Harlan Whatley, director of the festival and a professor of mass communications at Odessa College. Whatley has an extensive background in film and entertainment.

I’ll be hearing more about the festival once I talk to Jared after he returns. Thus far, the 2019 West Texas Film Festival sounds like a big success, and it’s a reminder that authentic art isn’t being created in pop culture theme and brand recycling centers—it’s being created right in the middle of America by artists who do it because of passion for their work, and, as the film festival asserts, creating works that embrace the “pioneer spirit of filmmaking.”

(Kay B. Day/Nov. 25, 2019)

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