Decades ago, Katherine Hyde bequeathed to the city of Carthage her family’s historic foursquare farmhouse to be used as a home for sharing fine arts. My studio-office sits at the end of the second floor hallway. This former sleeping porch has two window walls overlooking the spacious lawn spreading beneath old growth trees, the carriage house transformed into teaching spaces and the Great Wall painted by a bevy of artCentral artists and artCampers.
Naturally, I work at my computer and projects facing outside. Whenever I look up from my tasks, I always catch a glimpse of inspiration. Hanging behind me is a large calendar that charts yearly exhibitions and events as well as paper streamers of invitations celebrating the talents showcased in artCentral’s galleries over the past 10 years. In every available space, you’ll see paintings — some old, some new — that my husband, David, and I have made.
The first time Joplin artist Andrew Batcheller came upstairs to visit me, he peeked through the door and exclaimed, “Did you do that with acrylic? How did you get the skin tones to blend so well?” He had cast his gaze on the portrait I made of Sophie, our granddaughter, as a tiny 1-week-old babe tenderly held in her mother’s arms.
Our encounter is so very typical of how Andrew — a highly accomplished and revered painter in oil — sees and greets every artist he meets. He looks with genuine interest at your creation then gives his uplifting response that causes you to feel artistically adept and respected. Perhaps growing up as the only son in a house full of sisters has given him extra sensitivity. From wherever his thoughtfulness comes, his admiration always feels honest.
No one garners admiration better than Andrew Batcheller — as a caring person, as a rock star painter, as a good friend to all fortunate to spend time with him. The largeness of his heart and life and presence are irresistible. That Andrew paints large is no surprise. He paints with courage and with power. His paintings can take your breath and invoke your tears with fierce and poignant beauty. With hope they soothe your soul when aching and lift your spirit to new heights.
Batcheller states: “My greatest inspiration is derived from stories — specifically tales of how people traverse the landscape of this life. Stories of sadness, tragedy and pain are the most powerful for me, for they enhance my gratitude and lead me to greater appreciation. I always try to find the silver linings in these stories. Around these revelations, I focus my work.”
Andrew tells stories in oils on textiles — canvas and linen and tee shirts and bed sheets and pillowcases, too. Many are stretched to the limits to accommodate the vast scopes of the narratives he brushes upon them.
Now on display in artCentral’s 2019 annual Membership Exhibition, Andrew’s painting, “The White Birds That Preside in the Heavenly Days,” offers up a stunning landscape, filled with revelations represented by his signature iconography — birds of splendor — in an exquisitely detailed, majestic setting.
When the exhibition’s distinguished jurors — Beth Simmons, director of the McCune-Brooks Healthcare Foundation and an avid collector of art and patron of artists; and Jerry Ellis, AWS, NWS, our Carthage hero and famous watercolorist — stood before Andrew’s painting each expressed their awe and amazement for Andrew’s remarkable achievement. Beth recognized his excellence with the Underwriter’s Award. Jerry paid tribute by bestowing Andrew with the Gold Award for the most outstanding artwork in the collection of forty-three on display.
Other outstanding art was recognized. Recipients selected by Jerry included Silver to Jane Ballard for “Sunflowers,” a digital photograph uniquely rendered as a layered shadow-boxed diorama. The Bronze Award went to Karolee Blanchard for her intimate, atmospheric, stroke-perfect “Inception” in oil.
Honorable mentions given by Beth included April Davis-Brunner for “Scooby,” Aurelia Burr for “Disneyland Dreams,” David Greenwood-Mathé for “Àshe. Namaste.” and Jesse McCormick for “Out of the Red.” Jerry’s Honorable Mentions went to Linda Teeter for “First Communion,” Debbie Reed for “Gracie in Spring” and Helen Kunze for “Claiming Our Spot.”
Both jurors told me I should be very proud of the high quality of all the art now hanging in the galleries of Hyde House. I am proud and very grateful to each artist sharing their talent so generously. Thank you! to our award recipients and to artists Diana Bray, Jim Bray, Maddie Capps, Valerie Cummings, Dan Curry, Mary Datum, Sherry Fobair, Brenda Hayes, Diane Heisner, Barbara Hicklin, Nina Johnston, Janice Kinman, Melody Knowles, Philip Ledbetter, Lori Marble, Koral Martin, Dan McWilliams, Connie Miller, Dustin Miller, Margie Moss, Mary Parks, Sandra Parrill, Percilla Penner, Tyla Raredon, Richard Reed, Emily Rose, Janiece Siebert, David Storm, Kerry Sturgis, Wayne Walker, Lora Waring and Bonnie Young.
Come see remarkable artworks by artCentral’s talented artists! The 2019 Annual Membership Exhibition will be on view at Hyde House in June during weekend gallery hours, Friday and Saturday, 12:00-5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m., and by appointment during July. Detailed information is at www.artcentralcarthage.org.
Alice Lynn Greenwood-Mathe is the executive director-curator of artCentral at the Hyde House in Carthage.