Artistic ability in the DNA of the Caldwell family

Friday, June 4, 2010
Members of the Caldwell family display their artwork Tuesday at Aartful Rose. From left are Veronica Park, Tara Caldwell, Zac Caldwell and Bill Caldwell. Not pictured is Krystal Caldwell, who also has art in the Caldwell family show on display at the gallery for First Friday. (KRISTIN EBERTS ~

Some families pass down good looks or antique furniture. The Caldwell family from Illinois has passed a passion and talent for art down through several generations of painters, drawers and sculptors.

Several of the Caldwells will display their art at Aartful Rose through June with an opening reception from 5 to 10 p.m. today. Bill Caldwell, his children Tara and Zac, Zac's daughter Krystal and Bill's stepgranddaughter Veronica Park will all have pieces in The Caldwell Family Show.

Bill Caldwell said his entire family were artists -- painters, cartoonists, sign painters.

"I really was raised in that environment," he said.

For fun, he and the other children would sit in the yard at his grandmother's house and draw cartoon images of each other.

"That was our creativity and trying to find things to enjoy and entertain ourselves," he said.

Caldwell, who owns Caldwell Signs among other ventures, spent nine years in the U.S. Navy and 20 years in the U.S. Army Reserves Combat Engineers program, but he practiced art the entire time. While stationed in Jacksonville, Fla., he took night classes from the Jacksonville School of Art for commercial art and illustrating. He retired from the reserves 13 years ago.

"I started doing more art since I retired and I expect to be doing more of it," he said.

Though Caldwell has practiced art his entire life, this will be his first official show. Caldwell's daughter Tara, who has several paintings in the show, took him to the Aartful Rose when it first opened, said gallery director Erin Schloss. She said Caldwell approached her about doing a family show, and she said yes.

"It kept going," Schloss said. "They kept coming out of the woodwork."

Caldwell and daughter Tara have paintings in the show, while Zac has several mixed media works. One corner has the granddaughters' work -- Krystal's drawings and paintings on the wall and Veronica's wax and sculpture pieces on pedestals and hanging up.

Both girls graduated this year and received art scholarships to attend college, Caldwell said.

"I guess it's in their genes," he said. "They were exposed to the same atmosphere I was."

Though they were exposed to the same culture, each family member has put a personal touch on his or her art, be it through subject or medium. Veronica uses wax and objects to create expressionist sculptures.

Her piece "My Brother's Struggle" is an open Bible with a wax face laid on the pages and three bottles of alcohol. It serves as a tribute to her brother, who's religious and in college and struggling with balance and keeping true to his values, Schloss said.

For another piece, titled "Self Destruction," she used a broken gilded mirror with gold wax covering part of it and syringes and other items in the wax to show the destructive paths some people take.

"I think it's wild, but I understand a lot of it is a statement," Caldwell said.

The Caldwell family's art will be on display through June 30. A First Friday reception with full cash bar and hors d'oeuvres will be available from 5 to 9 p.m. and chef James Coley's small plates available late. To schedule an appointment to see the art through June, call 332-7673 or 979-0658.


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