On Friday, October 2, 2020, a very special day of OPENING CELEBRATIONS, birds are in abundance at artCentral! The resident pair bond of hawks continues to sail high and loop back and forth over Jason Shelfer’s outdoor SCULPTURAL SPECTACULAR Exhibition and a large community of crows keep up their lively chatter, while inside
Watching over artCentral’s curiously variegated aviary is a very wise owl perched on the foyer wall. This wise watchman of the feathered world is looking out from the handsome logo of Old Missouri Bank. Old Missouri Bank is the gracious underwriter for the two marvelous collections now on exhibition—INA NIDAY & MARY DATUM | TWO FRIENDS | OIL PAINTINGS and SMALL WORKS | GREAT WONDERS Silent Auction Fundraiser.
Our sincere gratitude goes out to Lonnie Heckmaster for his championing artCentral with Old Missouri Bank’s underwriting. A faithful supporter of the arts in Carthage and artCentral’s former board of directors treasurer, he has served as the market leader for Old Missouri Bank’s expansion into Carthage.
Lonnie Heckmaster, a native of Carthage, has enjoyed a vibrant and successful career spanning thirty-seven years. Before being recruited by Old Missouri Bank he served as the President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Hometown Bancshares. Along with a great depth of knowledge in banking he holds a deeply grounded belief in the importance of the cultural well-being of our community.
Since before recorded history owls have been attributed with wisdom. In Greek and Roman mythology, owls were associated with education, intellect and magic, perhaps because of their wide eyes, solemn expression and ability to see through darkness. The goddess Athena was believed to control wisdom and darkness. Her symbol was the owl. From the “The Iliad” and the Bible through thousands of years owls have been portrayed as sage and wise. Early Christian texts used the owl as a metaphor for Jesus, who appeared in the darkness of sin and showed humans the way to salvation.
Some Native American tribes understand the owl as a symbol of bravery and protection. In contemporary Western culture, owls are synonymous with wisdom and knowledge. The wise owl is found in childhood stories like "Winnie the Pooh" and serves as college mascots like the Temple Owls. Owls in reading spectacles are often seen on signs for libraries and bookstores. Cartoon owls wearing caps and gowns appear on graduation cards.
When I was still relatively new to southwestern Missouri, I heard tell of a particular local owl. While being courted by my now husband David, he enchanted me with the story of the Prosperity Owl, shrouded in mystery and said to be in residence on a back road between Carthage and Joplin. Fact or fiction, I could not know for certain, until sure enough one afternoon going for an evening out in Joplin, we saw this beautiful, large legendary bird sitting calmly erect and attentive on a fence post very near the old, two-story red brick schoolhouse on Prosperity Avenue. The majestic head serenely watched our approach. The wings did not ruffle or flap. The body did not rise up in flight. As we pulled over to the roadside and David turned off the engine, we watched to make sure we were not seeing an apparition. The owl’s eyes never left us—just cast a steady gaze. When we drove on, I turned to look over my shoulder. Still the Prosperity Owl sat watching, watching, watching until we made the corner, and we lost sight of one another.
I am so very happy Lonnie Heckmaster keeps artCentral in his sights. I am so thankful the graciousness of Old Missouri Bank is making possible the Silent Auction Fundraiser and Ina’s and Mary’s stunning exhibition. The underwriting of Old Missouri Bank is supporting forty-nine artCentral artists as they show and share their creations that have the power to give wings to the spirits and hearts of all of us.
Visit artCentral, October 2-December 5, and see all the birds and so much more in Hyde House at 1110 East Thirteenth Street in Carthage. View, shop and place your Silent Auction bids. Weekend Gallery Hours are each Friday and Saturday from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. with CDC protocols practiced. Face masks, social distancing and sign in are required for everyone entering Hyde House. Please help us keep each other safe and healthy and wise as owls!