Talk about a night to remember.

It’s not often an ordinary country girl spends the night in a hotel penthouse after celebrating her 70th birthday with Jerry Jones and his family in their 50-yard-line suite at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Carolyn Johnson Briley did just that last month while attending the 10th anniversary celebration of her son’s gigantic art mural placement on a multi-level ramp at the then Cowboy Stadium.

Carolyn just happens to be the mother of nationally known artist Trenton Hancock, who has put Paris, Texas, on the map all over the world with his artistic renditions of a group of characters the famed artist may have kept somewhere in the back of his mind since childhood.

A teacher for 40 years with Paris ISD, Carolyn recalls Trenton as 3-year-old became infatuated with the movie, JAWS. She soon noticed teeth-like figures appear in many of his scribblings. Then in kindergarten, he brought home a painting of a tree with the reds, oranges and browns all blended.

She said it actually looked like a tree.

“I knew right then he had a little bit more going for him than the average kindergartner,” his mother said.

“Later, when he was in the gifted and talented and Socrates programs, he became literary proficient. He always loved to write, and I think he has been able to advance his art because of his writings about his characters.”

Her son’s “doodling” during class sometimes landed him in trouble.

“He “doodled on his classwork in elementary school, and we had to have some discipline on that,” the mother said. One of his teachers stopped Carolyn at the grocery story one day and said she remembered in class he would be doodling and she would tell him to bring her the paper.

“‘I would make him throw it in the trash,’” Carolyn quoted the teacher as saying. “‘I should have kept it because I can’t even buy a piece of his artwork now.’”

The mother noted over the course of his life her son has created a cast of characters with stories only he can tell.

“They just get bigger and bigger, and his characters enamor so many of his followers because you never know what is going to be next,” Carolyn said.

Birthday surprise

“I was there when they celebrated the installation of the mural, and I asked Trenton if he could see if I could attend this 10th anniversary as well,” Carolyn said from her Paris home where Trenton and his brother spent their childhood. “I never dreamed he would tell them it was my birthday.”

When she arrived at the recently completed Live! by Loews Hotel in Arlington’s entertainment district, Carolyn said she was flabbergasted when she learned her room was on the top floor in a penthouse suite.

“I was flabbergasted by the room,” Carolyn exclaimed. “You mash a button and the drapes just start moving and you see AT&T Stadium. You push another button and there is the Ranger baseball park on the other side. I had a 180-degree view from my room.”

When it came time for the Thursday night game against the Pampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolyn said a limousine drove her, Trenton and his wife, Jooyoung Choi, through an underground tunnel to the stadium player entrance where they walked to the playing field and took photographs before joining the Jones family in their viewing suite.

“When I walked into the suite, everyone began wishing me happy birthday, and there was a birthday cake,” Carolyn said, adding after mingling and dining on a large array of fabulous foods, the threesome sat in luxurious seats with an open view of the 50-yard line.

Time with her son at the stadium had come full circle.

“For me, it is with much joy and humility that I have been a part of this journey with him,” she said. “I never knew he would be successful, but I prayed over both of my children before they left this house.”

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at

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