West Plains Council on the Arts is hosting an exhibition of works by 12 area artists through Dec. 16 in the gallery on the mezzanine at the West Plains Civic Center, 110 St. Louis St.. The gallery is open to the public during regular civic center hours.
Featured artists are Janey Hale, Terry Hampton, Josie Hanson, Ann Kulpa, Donna Lay, Willie Lyles, Judy Norton, Diane Smithey, Cindy Temple, Mark Wallen, Dolores Winkler and Jaylee Yarber.
The arts council will host a Meet the Artists event from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 2 in the gallery. 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.
Hale’s desire to create began when, as a young child, a women’s group brought an exhibition of old master’s paintings to her hometown of Hope, Ark. Teaching art for over 20 years, she now focuses on painting full time.
“Creating art is a means by which I record both emotional and visual experiences,” said Hale. “The interaction of color, light and textures in combination with mark making appeals to my own aesthetic, which I hope gives something to the viewer.”
Of the work she selected to display for this exhibit, she said it 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.”
Hampton is a native and lifelong resident of rural West Plains who has been involved in creative endeavors and arts organizations for more than 40 years. She is currently president of Ozark Artery, a nonprofit organization on a mission to grow local art opportunities.
“I’ve loved artistic pursuits for as long as I can remember. My folks encouraged me and sent me to a neighbor lady for oil painting when I was barely school age. It had a lifelong impact. Roy Hathcock, my high school art teacher, was also a big influence,” said Hampton, a multidisciplinary artist who works in 2D and 3D, and whose works also include calligraphy and photography. “My ‘Deck the Halls’ entries are mixed-media pieces consisting mostly of recycled holiday materials. Recycling and upcycling are where my creative energies have been focused recently, especially using many items that belonged to my parents, including the vintage wrapping paper featured in my entries.
“Art can and should convey serious themes, but sometimes, it can (and should be) just for fun, like these pieces which remind me of when I was growing up. The way my folks carefully saved wrapping paper to reuse it multiple years. Seeing the remnants of one piece that indicated a gift wrapped in the paper was from my Grandpa. A smiling little girl who didn’t have much, but in her mind, she didn’t need anything else. So many nice memories of what, in some ways, were simpler times, even though I know now the simplicity was an illusion. The world has always been complicated.
“It is my hope for all of us throughout the holiday season that we make joyful memories without trying too hard, have loving connections with those we care about and take a googly-eye view that through ups and downs, we should try to seek that which is worthwhile and of lasting value.”
Hanson lives in West Plains with her 8-year-old son Lincoln. Hanson has always enjoyed art and has recently started taking art classes, especially enjoying learning how to paint with watercolors.
Kulpa is a self-taught creative who has been working her art since she was a child. She has lived in Cabool for 20 years with her husband Lee. Shel lived in Colorado before moving to the Ozarks. In Colorado, Kulpa worked as a portrait artist and mural painter as well as creator and writer of craft “How To” articles for an herb magazine based in Loveland.
While living, in Cabool she has absorbed herself in the creative process of Digital Art Painting, becoming involved in that work for years while continuing her work in photography, pencil and pen-and-ink drawings. Because of her interest in the process of creating intuitively, in 2022, Kulpa returned to the form of abstract art that she loved to create as a child.
“My finished work is the result of completing a puzzle that is continually fluctuating,” she shared. “It’s always a surprise.”
Lay moved to this area from Texas in June 2000. She was raised in the Sandhills of Nebraska on a small family farm but left to attend college and eventually earned her Master of Science Degree in Educational Counseling in 1981.
She began her career as a therapist when she enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1981 and spent most of her time in Germany. She was able to participate in her military community celebrations of Christmas, German-style, and discovered she loved the gingerbread cookies, the wood ornaments, the nutcrackers and the music.
These paintings portray that time as she sipped steaming mulled wine in the Christmas market. She invites all to join her in this Weinachten celebration.
Lyles, originally from California, attended high school in San Fernando. He was a conservation officer in three different counties for 18 years and recently retired from the Missouri Department of Conservation after 30 years’ service.
“I also worked as an outdoor skills education specialist, where I perfected some of my art,” Lyles shared. “I used to use sawdust flour and water to make my sculptures, but now I use gourds and I attended the gourd show in Springfield for the first time this year, taking first place awards. I also attended the Empire Springfield Fair and received four first places and three honorary awards as well. This will be the first time that I have attended this art program. It’s gonna be really exciting for me.”
“By the way,” he added, “I did not start doing artwork at all until I was about 45 years old, and I have gotten to the place where that’s about all I do now, and I enjoy it in my retirement.”
“Art has always been a big part in my life. It was always my favorite subject as a child, and I guess it still is,” shared Norton. “I started painting with oil but went quickly to watercolor because it was easier to transport. When my late husband was in the hospital at Little Rock with esophageal cancer, I painted a picture for every doctor and nurse that worked with him. I always joked I could have an art gallery in Little Rock for all the paintings I gave away and someday I’d be famous!”
After he died and Norton met and married current husband Tom, the couple purchased a winter home in an RV park in Texas, where she started a watercolor art class and got serious about painting, she said. During the COVID pandemic, she hosted an art class via Zoom five days a week.
“It’s no wonder I have over 400 paintings in my possession,” she said. “I still paint twice a week now – once with the Ventures in Art group meeting at the First Christian Church on Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m., and then on Zoom on Friday mornings with my Texas students.”
A native Virginian, Diane Smithey moved with her husband and sons to Missouri 30 years ago and has enjoyed photographing the Ozarks region and surroundings ever since. Many of her photos have appeared in the West Plains Daily Quill through the years.
Her first entry in a photo contest, titled “Rainy Stroll at Big Spring,” won first place in the People Category, as well as Best in Show, at the Heart of the Ozarks Fair in 2004. One of her favorite subjects to photograph was her beloved cat, Jelly, who lived to the ripe old age of 18 and “who loved Christmas more than anyone else.”
“The pieces I chose for this exhibit reflect some fond memories of times gone by,” said Temple. “My mom’s Christmas cactus, and baking cookies with my boys and arranging them by the fireplace so Santa would be sure to notice.”
"I’m actively seeking to do better and learn new skills,” she added. “I enjoy painting, sharing ideas and learning with other artists in our local art groups. Being a self-taught artist and learning as I go, breaking rules doesn’t seem to matter and has given me freedom to find my own style. Honestly, I believe all artists, educated or not, are all self-taught. We retain and choose what we want to learn. Subsequently, we go with our gut and what moves and stirs our souls.”
A Missouri native currently residing in Raymondville, Wallen is primarily self-taught. His studies include time working with Wendy Ziegler at Missouri State University-West Plains; he also credits the encouragement and support of the "Ventures in Art" group in West Plains. He describes his style as somewhere between Realism and Impressionism. His goal is to move closer to realism without losing the mood present in his current works.
The Ventures in Art group meets once a week and has artists using different mediums from watercolor to oils. The goal of the group is to challenge your comfort zone; to push you to learn from different experiences and other individuals. The work exhibited reflects the input from these meetings.
The works of the artist reflect his interest of landscapes of the mid-west. His interest is in old farms and buildings, cars, trucks, trains, and equipment. He likes snow scenes, and skies of the morning and evenings. He also likes working on nocturnes of moonlit skies.
Winkler was born and raised in Redlands, Calif.. She owned two salons in the downtown area and retired in 2018 after 47 years, moving to Pomona with her husband Grady.
“I have loved art since I was a little girl, taking classes all through my life,” said Winkler. “I love acrylics, watercolor, alcohol inks and Inktense pencils on canvas. I have been in California teaching classes for a month. I love colors and different textures!”
Winkler has taught art for the last 20 years, in California and Missouri. She teaches private groups, as well as one-on-one.
“I love teaching children and beginners in watercolors,” she said. “Six lessons are a great way to start. I am teaching at Six Sisters Mercantile in West Plains several days a week and Saturdays for larger groups.”
Winkler also works part-time as a travel agent for Uniglobe Travel, specializing in personal and group travel.
“I love to travel, and it gives me inspiration for my art,” she shared.
Jaylee Yarber is a 14-year-old student in the eighth grade at Ozarks Christian Academy. She has enjoyed drawing and painting since a young child and recently started taking formal lessons to explore more art forms such as watercolor, alcohol inks, acrylics and more advanced drawing techniques. Her favorite subjects to draw, she said, are animals, landscapes and flowers.