Juden Schoolhouse serves as gallery for local artists

Friday, October 18, 2002

For half the 19th century and part of 20th, the rustic building at the intersection of County Road 643 and County Road 635 educated rural Cape Girardeau County students. More recently it housed Vincill Specialty Feeds, an animal feed and supply store owned by Southeast Missouri State University art education professor Dr. Edwin Smith. Smith auctioned off the contents and put the building up for sale last March but now is putting it at least temporarily to a new use as an art gallery.

Today is the opening reception for the Juden Schoolhouse Fine Art Exhibition, a show that displays the work of 35 local artists invited to participate.

Smith encountered the idea of holding an invitational art exhibition while spending last summer in Santa Fe, N.M. Most local artists don't get many chances to show people what they're working on. Artists usually must pay galleries to exhibit their works or the gallery receives a commission from sales, neither of which is the case this weekend.

"I wanted to provide an opportunity for people to exhibit their work and to mix up people from all over," Smith said.

The artists include Southeast faculty members, Southeast art graduates and students, art teachers from around the region and townspeople.

Dr. Jean Chapman and Dr. Zenon Duda, both Cape Girardeau physicians who sculpt, have contributed works to the exhibition. Besides Smith, other faculty members exhibiting are Dr. Sam Bishop, Lane Fabrick, Amy Kephart and Paul Schock.

A.J. Hendershott, a Southeast science graduate who minored in art, is an outreach and education regional supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation. His color pencil drawing of two Perry County fish, the grotto sculpin and banded sculpin, will be in the show. This is the first opportunity Hendershott has had to exhibit his art since graduating from college seven or eight years ago.

"I'm really excited about it," he said.

Judy Comer taught art at Sikeston High School for 25 years before retiring. She will exhibit a watercolor depicting large cotton bolls breaking open.

"White Gold" has won some awards, so she has had other opportunities to exhibit. Comer was interested in this show because it is fun exhibiting with other art teachers in the area.

"Just to participate and be among the art teachers gives a feeling of community and friendship," she said.

Because of the small size of the schoolhouse, each artist was limited to one piece and was asked to think small.

Fine art is defined as drawing, painting, prints and sculpture. Some of the work will be for sale.

One of goals of the exhibit is to help Southeast art students. "It's not necessary for them to market their work, but it is necessary to have exhibit records on their resume," Smith said.

Southeast senior art major Jake Wells, grandson of the late and legendary painter of the same name, contributed a print titled "Wait Up."

He says his grandfather never pushed him to be an artist but was an inspiration anyway. "I always saw his watercolors hanging on the walls," Wells said.

He welcomes the chance to exhibit. He also is a member of a 3-D artists guild that is trying to arrange to display their work on the walls of local restaurants.

Smith heard from so many artists who didn't get invited to exhibit that he is planning another invitational in December. Thirty-three artists already have signed up.

"I want this to be a service to the art community and the art-viewing public," he said.


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