|Photo Credit: Larry Fenwick|
Last Monday evening was an Art Walk in Pratt, Kansas, and although it is primarily for artists, photographers, and crafts persons with things to sell, I was invited to share some of my work. While I paint and draw for my personal enjoyment, and occasionally to do portraits for friends, I had a good reason to attend.
The centennial celebration of Willa Cather's My Antonia was last year, and for a special edition of the Willa Cather Review, Vol. 61, No.2 I did a series of six portraits of the main characters. The original pastel portraits and a copy of the Journal are on the table in the photograph.
I am a stickler for illustrations that respect the text of the author. If L. Frank Baum says that Dorothy wore a blue and white checked dress, that is what I expect the illustrators of the Wizard of Oz series of books to depict.
So, naturally, before selecting which characters from My Antonia I wanted to portray, I read passages written by Willa Cather to learn how she had described them. The portraits displayed on the table included cards with descriptive passages taken from Cather's novel that I used in deciding how to portray each of the six characters.
I didn't have any art to sell, but instead, I sold Willa! I shared how she was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, how she grew up just a few miles from the Kansas border, what a wonderful place to visit Red Cloud, NE is with so many recognizable sites from Cather's novels and short stories, and how much in common her stories have with Kansas during that era.
I recommended my favorites, in addition to My Antonia--O Pioneers! and One of Ours, as well as a favorite short story set in Kansas, The Sculptor's Funeral. I had checked the Pratt Library shelves with the librarian, and I told visitors that there are several of Cather's books available at the library. One young couple that stopped by were intrigued by what I shared, and he took a photo on his phone to help him remember Cather's name, while his wife pondered which of Cather's books to recommend for her book club.
We are very fortunate in our region to have several local libraries that are wonderful, in addition to the recently remodeled Pratt Library. Among those I visit are the libraries in Macksville, St. John, Stafford, Kinsley, and others a bit further from our home.
When I participate in the Art Walk and Plein Aire at the state fair, I always enjoy the children. Because the Art Walk was in the evening, only a few children visited, but they were curious about the portraits. One little boy was particularly proud of himself when he recognized that I was the woman in the drawing on the stand.
Thank you to the Library and other sites for hosting us, to those who organized the evening, and to those who came out on a calm but chilly winter's evening to support the Arts. Remember, you can click on the images to enlarge them,