FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN
I first fall in love with Carthage some six years ago. New to town, alone I take to the sidewalks to see what I can see.
What I see moves me—magnificent, brilliantly colored maple trees lining neighborhood streets edged with Carthage marble curbstones; many grand homes and many, many modest ones, too; walkers walking; gardens flourishing whether manicured or wild; neighbors greeting neighbors; Lonnie Heckmaster’s smiling “hello” when retrieving the morning paper; backpacked kids headed to school; folks on bikes pedaling toward work or out for exercise; a town square vibrant with activity anchored by a majestic courthouse standing like a castle as the county’s grand jewel.
Now with my husband, David, together we’re falling ever deeper in love with Carthage, while we offer our first public-works art collaboration. As the creative team of Greenwood-Mathé, we’re painting the fire hydrants on the square. Never did either of us dream fire hydrants would have such significant places in our shared life. Never have either of us experienced such a profound out pouring of appreciation for our artistic creations.
We love all you people of Carthage for your thumbs-up and kind, encouraging words. Thank you for driving and walking by saying “good job…beautiful…keep up the good work” as we sit on the concrete putting in dawn to dusk hours to complete each hydrant. Thank you to the quartet of junior high guys for nodding your approval in unison. Thank you to the young girl who observes, “You should be artists.” Thank you to the two young fellows on their segues who agree “Those are real good”. Route 66 travelers are especially complimentary.
Apparently on our very first plein air painting day, there was a bit of a public outcry on the square. As the CW&EP team prepped downtown hydrants with a final coat—the blue paint was misunderstood to be the color of a neighboring town’s athletic teams. We missed the downtown hubbub. We were heads-down painting our “practice” hydrant across from our house adding floating cumulus clouds and bright, swirling maple leaves to the backdrop we’d carefully chosen to be sky blue—not baby blue or powder blue or you-know who athletic blue.
One local restaurateur confesses, “Your blue is a good lesson for me. Like a lot of other people, at first I was really upset, but now the choice makes perfect sense, and reminds me I shouldn’t be so quick to rush to judgment.”
Months in the planning, our hydrant project was first conceived by Jason Choate, CW&EP Director of Water Services, after he viewed the Veterans Way hydrants in Mount Vernon. Artist Sarah Huntley connected Jason to me at artCentral.
David and I made trips to view the patriotically themed hydrants in Mount Vernon, as well as in Galena, Kansas, where the hydrants are painted with black spots on white backgrounds reminiscent of Dalmatian dogs as fire truck mascots.
Choosing the theme for Carthage we went with our first artistic instinct which we usually find to be our best. For Carthage to be distinguished as ‘America’s Maple Leaf City’ gives us all the ingredients for a successful design: a simple iconic leaf motif that’s readily recognizable and allows for beautiful colors. We created the maple leaf/cloud designs and templates used on the square which will be used again when the hydrant painting is expanded to include sixteen hydrants on the Maple Leaf parade route. Lora Waring is putting in lots of hours preparing multiple sets of the motifs and templates for the ten artCentral artists joining our painting team.
The simple, theme-appropriate color palette is limited to six pigments. The paints used are marine quality to meet regulations. CW&EP is underwriting all project costs. Meagan Milliken, CW&EP Customer Relations Manager, is project coordinator for both the square and the parade route. She’s gathering supplies and serving as liaison with the fire department and in general cheering us on with her own good cheer.
Each hydrant requires approximately twenty to twenty-four hours for completion. With artCentral’s team of artists, artCentral is providing the talent and skill to produce professional art to beautify Carthage for the enjoyment of residents and guests alike. The artists are volunteering all their time. We love our artists!
Come to artCentral and you’ll fall in love with “The Beauty of Betsy Pauly” on exhibit through Sunday, September 17, 2017. Checkett & Pauly, P.C. are the generous underwriters for this exhibition of exquisite watercolor and ink paintings. All purchase proceeds go to the BETSY PAULY FUND for artCENTRAL. Gallery hours: Fridays & Saturdays 12:00-5:00, Sundays 1:00-5:00. All other days call (417) 358-4404 to schedule a visit.