NAMING THE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Facilitating the naming and honoring of the Artist of the Year is one of my great privileges and pleasures in serving as Executive Director-Curator of artCentral, our hometown non-profit arts center.
The Artist of the Year award is bestowed at the annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet—a January evening given to celebrating and honoring our business, education and community leaders. In keeping with tradition the artist selected one year has the good fortune to choose the artist honoree for the following year.
Two years ago sixteen artCentral artists were collectively honored as the "2017 Artist of the Year". The team of talented artCentral plein-air painters included Alexandra Burnside, Teri Y. Diggs, Elizabeth Foster, Olivia Givens, Alice Lynn Greenwood-Mathé, David Greenwood-Mathé, Sydney Hartless, Tom Jones, Chris Raredon, Tyla Raredon, Emily Rose, Sierra Russow, Brenda Sageng, Linda Swatsenbarg, Elizabeth Theresa Wallsmith and Joe Wallsmith.
While these artists painted, I was personally drawn aside to stop and thank them for kneeling down, sweating and getting dirty in the extreme heat. As I was expressing my appreciation I gained a deeper understanding of the meaning of being an artist. The bottom line is that any great creative action in life requires much from the one who is seeking to carry out a heart’s desire.
So, to you 'Super-Sixteen' self-giving artists we say, 'Thank You' for revealing how to express care and love for the ordinary. Your unselfish actions clearly show us that everything in life has value. This certainly is true in Carthage, Missouri. We salute you!"
Last year the “Super Sixteen” named local legend and Red Oak II creator Lowell Davis as the 2018 Artist of Year. Our artCentral member Andy Thomas spoke with deep gratitude for Lowell’s guidance and inspiration that have led Andy to achieve international fame. In honoring Lowell, Andy presented him with an original sculpturally enhanced oil painting celebrating Lowell’s life and influence.
For this year’s Awards Banquet Lowell asked me to pass the Artist of the Year torch on his behalf to the recipient of his choice. This year’s honoree, like Lowell, lives beyond the Carthage city limits. Like Lowell’s, his artistic career has taken off after plowing his talent and creativity into more mainstream endeavors. Following his service in World War II, before returning home to make art and live his dream, Lowell spent fourteen years as art director of a large advertising agency in Dallas.
While always carrying the desire to be a real, practicing artist, our new award recipient used his college drafting degree to work as a designer and writer in the manufacturing industry before opening his small town pizzeria where he made his first paintings as murals on his restaurant’s walls.
Anticipating the perfect moment to spring the surprise and tell this year’s artist recipient of the honor being given to him, I reached out to the honoree and arranged a time for a visit to his gallery-studio. David Greenwood-Mathé, artCentral’s prepitor, joined me on this purposeful excursion.
Mixing a bit of pleasure with our purpose we loaded our Aussie for our wee road trip, and off we went on a wintry afternoon allowing time for a late lunch at one of our favorite courting destinations northeast of Carthage. The truck stop up-do we found was delightful, especially the addition of a vintage knockoff of a waitress statuette. I was delighted photographing the town’s charming, petite water tower set among grain elevators not too many blocks from the artist’s studio on the town’s only commercial street across from his former pizzeria (now closed).
Though the artist’s front gallery was unheated and rather chill on this overcast day, when given the news of his selection, the sparkle in the eyes and the blush on the cheeks of this newest Artist of the Year created a warmth that enfolded us all. The naming of this Artist of the Year will be forthcoming soon!
The art of the Joplin Regional Artists Coalition will fill the galleries of Hyde House, upstairs and down, in February and March. The Opening Reception for HEART & SOUL is Friday, February 7, 2020, 6:00-8:00 p.m. The public is invited. Admission is free. For more information call (417) 358-4404 or visit www.artcentralcarthage.org online.