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“My Art, My Life” Exhibit 2021



West Plains Council on the Arts (WPCA) will host an exhibition of works by eighteen local artists entitled “My Art, My Life.”  WPCA will host the exhibition of works in the Gallery at the Center, West Plains Civic Center from November 6 through December 18, 2021. The Gallery, on the mezzanine, is open to the public during regular Civic Center hours. The exhibit will mark the largest number of participants to date.

“This is undoubtedly our largest and most diverse exhibit ever,” say organizers. “We are so grateful to all our artists for sharing a bit of their lives with us, expressed in so many different ways.“

A virtual slide show of this exhibit is available here.

Participating artists’ statements for this exhibit:

Kelli Albin

Kelli Albin – “My artistic tastes are diverse, but all have a common theme. I recreate what I love. Many times, my subjects are vintage objects. I find them peaceful and comforting – a reminder of stolen moments. By the same token, my cats often find themselves serving as models. Whatever my subject, it reflects my heart, my joy, my praise to the one who gave me being. When I use the talents given me, my art/my life, become a form of worship.”

Laura Bales

Laura Bales – “I love colorful paintings.  Van Gogh is my favorite, but I am inspired by modern impressionist styles as well. Color, texture, and movement seem to bring paintings to life for me. I love when art involves other senses, feelings, memories or just imagination for the viewer. I hope everyone enjoys our exhibit.”

Marc Brannan

Marc Brannan –“A lot of what I select to go out and photograph goes along with my interests in staying close to the history of my family. I have long been drawn to seeking out one-room schoolhouses, historic churches, and old barns. This is largely due to my mother having gone the first several years of her life to one-room schools, both in Iowa, and here locally in West Plains, MO. I believe the beauty of historic churches speaks for itself, as well as showing us where our strong values of faith came from in generations past. Old barns are a gateway for us to see what life was like when our parents and grandparents were carving out a life in the Ozarks, and raising the things needed for daily life on a family farm. The pictures that I have had selected for this exhibition are three examples of that, and what the beauty of sunlight can do to enhance them. I feel very fortunate to show some of our local history, and my own family history additionally, when you look at the sunlight finding its way into the hayloft of our barn.”

Michelle Carlson

Michelle Carlson – Raku: “happiness through chance”

“Display of works of Art is oftentimes considered a chief motivation for Art making. As an evolving visual artist, I have come to value engagement in the process of making over the resulting product. Clay play has certainly helped keep me grounded and more or less sane the last few years. The challenge of creating involves curiosity, focus, experimentation, mindfulness, and a host of thoughtful and sometimes serendipitous explorations. Process guides me: so much yet to learn!

I am grateful and honored  to have this opportunity share a few results of my lifelong ‘hooked on clay’ adventure.”

Lee Copen

Lee Copen – “For this show I selected paintings that I painted on our property. This is my life, what I see every day. The view is from the windows of my home, so when I sat down to paint, I was already intimately familiar with the image. Memory and observation blended together, resulting in paintings that hold special significance for me.”

Robb Cox

Robb Cox – “I enjoy drawing and pen and ink with many subjects.  I chose a variety of pieces to include – two family pieces, a historical figure in the Indian Chief, and a completely imaginary piece with the warrior at the temple.   I think it represents my work in a well-rounded way.   I love my family, I enjoy history, and it is so important to keep our imagination working and active.   Art helps keep these things active and alive for me.”

Janey Hale

Janey Hale – “The work I selected for this show is representative of things I paint because they evoke a memory, tell a story, or present a new challenge.  I paint what catches my eye.  It might be the way light falls across a building or the interesting textures created by the aging process on old farm equipment.  Ultimately, I hope the painting tells a story.”

Ellen Hones Martin

Ellen Hones Martin – “When an artist creates, they are physically manifesting a representation of their life. Art is the culmination of the artist’s emotions and experience, which, in turn, creates vulnerability for the rest of the world to see. As artists, we are constantly being vulnerable by displaying the art that is bred within the deepest parts of ourselves. Channeling my emotions and learning to harness them positively has been an integral part of my adult life and my ceramic art. Creating pottery challenges my creativity, my patience, my body, mind–my biggest fears, my highest hopes and dreams. The ongoing inner work on myself and my mental health is mirrored by the everchanging motifs, colors, and techniques I implement in my work. When my art is changing, I too am changing–My Art, My Life!”

Nancy Jacobson

Nancy Jacobson – “The Creative Vision: When working with the ‘personality’ of each gourd, I let the size, shape and natural markings on the surface of the gourd suggest the design. I often let a gourd sit near me for days, even weeks or months. It takes time to develop a vision. I do not impose my will on the gourd. It needs to tell me what it wants to become. I seldom paint a gourd but prefer to enhance the gourd’s natural beauty with beads, stones, seeds, feathers, and other elements of nature. The top may be trimmed with coiled pine needles, seed beads, stone beads, sweet grass, or other plant fibers. My belief is that a gourd should be a gourd and not turned into something no longer recognizable as a gourd.  Somewhere in the process I will “brand” the gourd by pyrographing “ELOHI SPIRIT GOURD” on the bottom in the Cherokee language and script along with my signature and its own individual number.”

Kimberly Langston

Kimberly Langston – “The acrylic painting titled ‘Aquarius’ is, underneath the literal image, about a dream I had that was in real life referencing a personal relationship and my hopes it would become romantic. My subconscious had turned the focus of my attention into a black fox, a play on words related to the person’s name, and the colors used were chosen to be bright and ‘larger than life.’ The stars also reference nighttime and the mysteries of the subconscious. 

The mixed media piece ‘Unfinished Business’ is something I put together with small trading card sized works in colored pencil and acrylic paint, a handmade cloth doll that hadn’t been completed for years, and a recent hobby I took up, knitting. The hat is a miniature of one I wear often during the winter, the t-shirt is a replica of an old favorite of mine, and the knitted ‘cocoon’ the doll is in was designed in black, which is in some traditions a color of protection and mystery. The cocoon represents my life and the use of arts and crafts as a coping mechanism that has been in place for me since childhood, and the realization at 50 years old that I don’t know how much is left and the importance of choosing how I spend it, hence the ‘unfinished business.’”     

Donna Lay

Donna Lay – “I have dealt with symptoms of major depression most of my adult life and am also diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to past MST (Military Sexual Trauma). In addition, both my parents were diagnosed with Dementia, which eventually killed them. I’ve always been open about my own struggles, especially with my clients. There is such a stigma attached to mental illness, and if I won’t talk about my own diagnosis and take healthy steps to treat my symptoms, how can I expect my clients to do it? I’ve always believed that I needed to lead by example. I do miss doing therapy because it was not just a job to me. It was who I was, and I considered it to be my calling—my vocation in life. Because of retirement, I am in the process of reinventing myself. I’ve discovered that I can reach others through my poetry and paintings. It is my hope that you will be touched and even inspired by my creations. Thank you.”

Garrett Melby

Garrett Melby – “My mission statement is simply: You can’t move forward if you don’t give back.  I paint live with bands and do a lot of cool things on a canvas, but the real art is finding a way to help someone with your art and that’s what I’m striving to do.”

Rhonda Richter

Rhonda Richter – “Art, for me, is an affirmation of the miracle of existence.  I painted “Winter’s Favor” in a period of grief.  On that winter’s day, a year after losing my husband, the simple act of gathering a few lovely objects and painting them took courage.”

Joyce Stewart

Joyce Stewart – “Making my art is a constant effort to better express myself with pencils, brushes, and paint. I am drawn to the objects and scenes around me that make up my life. I get excited by the morning light falling over the landscape around our home. I am drawn to trying to capture the look and feel of things like the leather in my husband’s chaps, the copper and brass on the pot he gave me one Christmas, the sunlight on our granddaughter’s hair, or the way the shadows fall across the hay in the field or stacked in our barn. I feel as if as I interpret these things, I am keeping a journal of our life that conveys joy and contentment. My  faith, my family and my art are my life!”

Cindy Temple

Cindy Temple – “The pieces I chose for this exhibit are a good representation of my everyday life and the beauty that surrounds me daily.  From an old barn cat and cattle in our field to a portrait of my son that was done at a workshop, each painting depicts my daily desire for continued learning and improvement. A rainy day at the beach, followed by a double rainbow, is a reminder of God’s goodness, blessings and promises, that I seek to recognize daily.”

Mark Wallen

Mark Wallen – “The paintings on exhibit are all snow scenes. Some are done in oil pastel; one is an oil painting. Being a mid-westerner, I like the change of seasons. I like painting spring and autumn scenes, but if I had a choice, every painting I did would be a scene of snow. It evokes memories of my childhood. That period also brings memories of old farms, cars, and trucks. I was born the evening before a large snowstorm, so my first full day was one of cold, wind and lots of snow. Maybe that is an influence on my psyche.”

Melissa Wharton

Melissa Wharton – “Having grown up and lived in the West Plains area most of my life, I have always had an interest in photographing the Ozarks. A year ago, when I was hired as the Tourism Coordinator for the City of West Plains, this passion became a part of my job. I now have the honor to photograph and promote our beautiful area that we get to call home.”

Barbara Williams

Barbara Williams – “The pieces represented in ‘My Art, My Life’ have been recurring themes throughout my work through the years. I love the Ozarks and love the handiwork of earlier residents that creatively made use of our abundance of rocks. Often these buildings were made from rocks gathered on the site. It beautifully complements the landscape from which it came. I much prefer drawing from  the object ‘live’ in front of me rather than a photograph of the object.  My response to the actual object/person is much fresher and more alive to me. I also like the freshness of drawing directly from a model. Ozarks exteriors, mostly buildings, and Ozarks interiors, how they might have looked back in the 1940s-1950s are recurring themes.  I have done many interior scenes which I focused on wallpaper.”

WPCA will host a Meet the Artists event on Saturday, December 4, from 2-4 p.m., in the Gallery at the Center. All are invited to attend, meet the artists, and discuss the pieces.  The exhibit is co-sponsored by the West Plains Civic Center and West Plains Council on the Arts, with partial funding provided by Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.