At last week’s Annual Membership Exhibition Opening, just having celebrated our one year anniversary, David and I, for the first time ever, found ourselves rising up singing together in front of a picnicking crowd.

At last week’s Annual Membership Exhibition Opening, just having celebrated our one year anniversary, David and I, for the first time ever, found ourselves rising up singing together in front of a picnicking crowd.
Though I’m still finding my voice after years of singing silence, in artCentral’s festive setting on the lawn, no one present seemed to mind the imperfections of our micro-entertainment. I credit the generosity of our community of kind, supportive artists and of my artist-musician husband. Imagine. People even took pictures!
David’s a generous partner in so many respects, especially with our tune-making. Though he’s been playing guitar and singing in myriad settings practically all his life, he consistently ups my confidence by encouraging me as though I’m already a pop star.
Until now, I’ve always been really intimidated by his musical gifts! Even when we’d try to sing along to familiar tunes on the radio, my voice would go all shaky and way, way off key!
In contrast, David’s just naturally at ease with music. Little by little following his example, I’m learning our song-making can be easy and fun, too. I don’t have to be nervous or afraid. Just have fun! After all, we’re doing what all creative artists do, we’re trying something new!
Our dueting came about quite by accident when not too long ago, I woke up with an old folk tune plucking at my heart strings. You know the one…“Hush Little Baby”, a traditional lullaby, probably written in the southern United States. The supposed origins suit me just fine, since my ancestral roots run deep in rich riverbeds and on the stony mountaintops of the Arkansas Ozarks.
I must have been singing quietly to myself that morning, when David joined in with his rich baritone. We’d hardly finished the last verse, and he’s excitedly declaring, “We have to sing this together! At artCentral’s picnic! Okay? And we can learn some other tunes, too!”
We do learn others. We borrow a microphone from our Joplin musician friend, Ed Minton. We plug the mic (mike) into David’s ancient, battered mini amp. For two weeks we practice and record on David’s ipad. By the evening of the picnic I know most of the words and hit a lot of the notes for our four selections: “Hush Little Baby”, Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game”, “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carole King and, for our encore, the aria composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera, “Porgy and Bess”—“Summertime”.
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy” at artCentral, because everyone pitches in to make the magic. McCune-Brooks Healthcare Foundation provided generous underwriting for this exhibition on view through July 29, 2018. Jurors Beth Simmons and Andy Thomas arrived early to do their tough work of choosing the recipients of awards from the stunning collection composed by thirty-six contributing artists; Judy Goff put final touches to her barbeque entrées and beans and her signature homemade strawberry shortcake; and in spite of temps in the 90’s hardy souls showed up in the midday sun to prep for the evening’s outdoor celebration.
Board members Jane Ballard (and husband Bobby), Jackie Boyer, Pat Goff and Lonnie Heckmaster set up and dressed tables, wiped down chairs, hooked up rotating fans and smudge-checked gallery woodwork, walls and doors. (The same crew did the breakdown at the picnic’s close with the additional help of artCentral member Casey Antle, prepitor David Greenwood-Mathé, board member Doug Osborne, friend Jeanine Poe and gallery docent Emily Rose.)
With welcome and abundant shade making a timely appearance and a lush breeze blowing over Hyde House hill, artist members, families, friends and guests arrived with luscious salads and desserts to share. On behalf of artCentral, Jackie and Alex Boyer accepted their five dollar dinner donations.
Oh, what a feast was had! After guests toured the house and the exhibit, David and I sang our songs. At last the time everyone was waiting for arrived—the announcement of the 2018 Annual Membership Exhibition awards!
GOLD went to Jim Bray for his masterfully made collage/watercolor “Joplin Depot”. Linda Teeter received SILVER for her atmospheric archival digital print, “Violin on San Luis” (New Orleans). Both the BRONZE and UNDERWRITER awards went to Dustin Miller for his colorfully graphic, imaginative acrylic, “King of the Beasts.”
When asked to share their artistic reflections, with a humble voice Jim Bray extended his thanks and appreciation to the jurors for making their challenging choices from among so many outstanding works; Linda Teeter expressed her sincere appreciation to be exhibiting in the company of artCentral’s exceptionally talented community of artists; and offering encouragement to all artist members, Dustin Miller said, “Just keep making your art. I’ve submitted many entries to artCentral exhibits over many years, and this is my first time to receive an award!”
Yes! To all aspiring artists, keep making your art in summertime and in every season. “One of these days you’re gonna rise up singin’, spread your wings and take to the sky!”