Edmond Arts Festival
Nationally known artist, Shirley Gibbons may choose conventional mediums and subjects, but her approach is anything but conventional. Gibbons works primarily in oils, but often experiments with watercolors and pastels.
“When I started painting, everybody was working with oils," she said." "So that’s how I started out, and I just fell in love with them. I move around a bit, but I always come back to my first love, which is oils.”
Gibbon's primary subject matter is roses, which she claims, are very versatile. "I never get bored with them," she said. "In fact, it's the subject material which provides the inspiration.” She’s known in the art world as “the rose lady.”
“I grow a lot of roses, and roses were my first subjects,” she notes enthusiastically. When approaching her art, Shirley’s philosophy is pretty simple.
“There is a sign on my easel that says, ‘An all-consuming passion,’ and that’s the way I feel," she said. "When I get into my creative mode I can paint for days. I always tell new artists that if you have the desire and good teachers, you can go wherever you want.”
Gibbons credits good teachers and a few of the classic masters for her talent, but mostly she credits her husband. “My husband supports me and has always supported me. I’m where I am today because of him. He gave me the confidence to teach.”
One painting of Gibbons, inspired by the 9/11 tragedy, now hangs in the Pentagon. Titled, “Flag of Glory, Rose of Peace,” it features the original thirteen-starred American flag in a vase with three roses standing, and one flat on the table. Prints of the symbolic painting will be available at the Arts Festival.
Jay Gourley’s photography has been leaving an indelible impression on the minds of viewers for years. With subjects moving across the spectrum from dilapidated stairs and doors to religious icons, Gourley’s masterful use of lighting and contrast make a deep impression.
However, Gourley insists that his influences aren’t from other artists, but from unconventional sources such as music, getting out in the country, and even horror films, which he says boast cinematography that forces him to think differently about how to portray the world through a camera lens.
“I don’t have any preconceptions about what makes a great shot,” said Gourley. “When I go out in the field I’m always looking for a great shot. When I see one, I’ll shoot it. But I definitely don’t have preconceived ideas about what I’m going to shoot.”
Though young, Gourley, is already recognized as a veteran in the field, having obtained a degree in photojournalism ten years ago.
Gourley shoots with what’s known as transparency film, sadly a dying art in the world of photography. He deliberately avoids the use of software such as PhotoShop to enhance his photos. Turning his back on the latest photographic technologies no doubt contributes to his simple but careful, exacting composition.
"Personally, I’m just drawn to color," said Gourley. "My eyes just lead me to good color. I don’t shoot anything for anybody. I shoot expressly for myself. I see it and I shoot it. But I do want viewers to walk away from my work feeling like children. Despite the eerie quality I gun for, I want them to feel safe – as if everything’s under control."
Ty Kelly, an internationally recognized Expressionist, travels almost as much as he paints. His well-known work keeps him on the move with exhibitions in locales as varied as his subject material.
Of his work, Kelly notes, "The fact that I don’t use a realistic perspective invites viewers to image. It forces them to think about the aesthetics of a painting rather than the technical side of it."
Kelly is a well-known artist, having walked away with the Best in Show Award in last year’s Arts Festival.
Kelly's artistic influences range from Russian émigré, Igor Koutsenko, to French Impressionist, Cézanne. While Kelly’s style is clearly his own, the patient viewer will see traces of both artists in his work. His subject material ranges from tropical settings to European locales such as Tuscany.
“There are enough negative influences out there,” said Kelly. “A lot of my pieces capture my philosophy of life. I accentuate the positive things in life, using colors and subjects that are generally celebratory. You have to love life in order to live life. That’s what I’m trying to get across in my work.”
Gary Leddy is a man of few words, choosing instead to express himself through his interesting art. Leddy is a veteran sculptor, but art has been a part of his life since he was a child. He first turned to sculpting after obtaining his Masters Degree in Art.
Leddy’s eclectic medium is acetylene-welded steel. After completing a piece, it is brass-plated or copper-plated, then oxidized.
"My subject matter is birds and animals – even giraffes," said Leddy. "But by far, my favorite is horses. I try to capture a lot of movement in my sculptures and those subjects definitely lend themselves to that."
The subjects are natural and intuitive for a man who runs cattle in western Oklahoma. Having been around animals for much of his life, it’s no surprise that they serve him well as an inspiration.
All of Leddy’s pieces are one-of-a-kind. Unlike bronze sculptures, which are cast from molds, each of his steel pieces are put together by hand–from scratch.
“I basically work from whatever I’m around everyday,” he said, “and it’s what I enjoy.”
Like most artists, Leddy does what he does as much for himself as his viewers. "I want people to look at my stuff and realize that I know my subject matter, that I’ve been there," said Leddy. "I’d like for it to give them a good feeling. I want them to see the movement in my pieces."
Janet Loveless has been painting on and off for over twenty years. It’s only recently that she began to focus seriously on her work. While her preferred medium is oils, she also works occasionally with watercolors, crossing media effortlessly.
Her influences reach back through time to the Renaissance masters and forward through the ages to the modern British artist, Richard Smith.
Landscapes are a favorite subject for Loveless.
"I primarily do European scenes now because that seems to be what the audience likes," said Loveless. "I’ve traveled to Europe often and I love the material it offers. Every painting of mine is of a place I’ve been. Animals present interesting subjects, as well."
As an art teacher for many years, Loveless watched as students presented their own views of the world. While her work is technically untouchable, it also hints at the playfulness she absorbed from young students over the years.
“I want viewers to walk away from my paintings feeling good because they’ve walked that street before or they’ve been to that place before,” Loveless said. , In last year’s Arts Festival “Or when I paint, for instance, a grizzly bear – I’ve seen many of them before – I want viewers to feel the animal’s power. Nostalgia and comfort are important considerations in my work, as well.”
Photographer, Londell McKinney, is a regular at the Arts Festival and a favorite among Edmond’s local artists.
His varied subject material forced him to master both color and black-and-white photography. His subjects run from the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial, to landscapes, to planes in motion.
As a photographer, McKinney deals with what some would call a disability. Yet he calls it a key and important feature of the way he views the world – he has vision in only one eye.
“With my one eye I see snippets and pieces of the world around me,” said Kelly, “I see color very intensely and deeply. For that reason I favor contrast in my work.”
While McKinney’s interest in photography dates back many years, it was only five years ago that he picked it up seriously. While equally absorbed with creative writing, music, and graphic design, photography became his primary creative outlet.
McKinney aggressively avoids influencing his work with the styles and approaches of other photographers. To some degree, this accounts for the variety of his subject material.
"Photography is just a passion for me," said McKinney. "I call myself the photographer for the common man. When regular people attend art shows, I don’t think they’re looking for twenty-five pictures of an apple taken from different angles."
Ron “Doc” Savage
Ron “Doc” Savage’s work defies classification. His unusual choice of medium, blended with off-the-beaten-path subjects, leaves viewers with a feeling of unparalleled craftsmanship and an understanding of how beauty can be found everywhere. It lives in the fin of an old Cadillac and it resides in an antique toy.
Savage works exclusively with technical – drafting – pens, items commonly found in the offices of architects or the studios of graphic artists.
“I started out wanting to be an architect. Technical pens were the primary drawing tools for that field,” said Savage. “I liked the effect that the pens had on my projects, but weirdly, the ads for the pens in art magazines never showed them being used for, say, floor plans. Instead, they showed the versatility of the pens in the hands of artists. I wanted to do that, too.”
Savage hesitates to cite artistic influences, though his work shows shades of Hopper and pointillism. He primarily credits the teachers and mentors with whom he has studied through the years. His impressive results hide his complicated approach to his subjects.
Says Savage, “First there’s that indefinable spark, something that tells me a particular subject would yield a great drawing. Then there’s the consideration of whether the subject would easily yield to pen and ink. Next comes getting good photo reference. If I can’t find a composition that works, I won’t draw it. Then there’s finding the time to work on it. Pen and ink illustrations take a long time, and if I’m not excited about the work, it shows.”
Schultz describes himself as a "dabbler." While he’s new to the world of pastels, his experience as an art teacher of over thirty years served him well as he made the transition from pottery. The transition, he notes, wasn’t very rough – just a matter of learning how to work with more color than usual.
"I was a potter for about thirty-five years," said Schultz, "and last October I decided I’d been in that field long enough. I sold all my pottery equipment and started working with pastels. Right now I’m improving my work there and that’s probably what I’ll be doing from here on out."
His favorite subjects, and ones he gets very excited about, are landscapes.
"You can do a lot of things with landscapes – trees, buildings, fields – there are so many choices,” Schultz explains. "It's hard to get bored."
At this year’s Arts Festival, Schultz will be displaying his pastel pieces along with some of his airbrushed gourds.
Like many artists, Schultz doesn’t lean in one particular direction when it comes to aesthetic influences. He concentrates on developing his own style and technique – not surprising for a self-described "dabbler" whose other interests include sculpture and jewelry making.
Schultz’s chief considerations for his work are his own enjoyment and that of his audience.
“I just enjoy art,” he says, “It’s been a part of my life since I was a child. I enjoy all kinds of art – to do it and to view it. I want viewers to see my work and say, ‘I like the colors. I like the composition.’ I think if they view my work and they enjoy my work and purchase it, well, that’s a good feeling.”