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EXHIBITIONS

Exhibits are always changing! Check here for new, upcoming and past exhibitions!
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April 4th-May 1st, 2024

Exhibits Undergoing Changes Check Back May 1st

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Paint. Paper. Sculpture.

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August 2023 - March 2024

Paulette Harp Nicholson

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of artistry brought to life by the talented grassroots artist, Paulette Harp-Nicholson, hailing from Ellis, Kansas. This exhibit has elements of oil paintings, natural wood and bone sculptures, and unique paper cutting collages – all crafted with an incredible touch of creativity.

The natural wood and bone sculptures carry an organic essence, each piece telling a story of its own through the intricate forms shaped by nature's hand.

Join us in experiencing this remarkable fusion of artistic expressions, a testament to Paullette Harp-Nicholson's dedication and ingenuity. This exhibit promises to transport you to a world where materials and imagination converge, leaving you inspired and awestruck by the boundless possibilities of creativity.

Wood & Wire

April 1st - August 11th 2023

About the Exhibit

Still on the Hill

The Ozark folk duo, Still on the Hill curated this exhibit of Ozark instruments. Kelly and Donna Mulhollan (from Fayetteville, Arkansas) have toured the country and Europe for 28 years, keeping Ozark stories alive in song. They stumbled upon Ed Stilley in 1995, when he was still building instruments at a furious pace, and developed a friendship that would last the rest of his life. "The duo discovered Jim Lee in 2009 and were immediately enchanted by his finely crafted instruments. Their friendship with Jim has only deepened over the years. He built several instruments specifically for Kelly and Donna, and they have written several songs based on the stories Jim Lee shared with them.

 

Ed Stilley

Ed Stilley of Hogscald Holler, Arkansas At age 50, Ed Stilley (1930-2019) received a pivotal vision. God tasked him to make musical instruments and give them children, and he did just that for about 25 years until his hands could no longer do the work. He made over 200 instruments and gave them all away. Isolated deep in an Ozark holler and without knowledge of how to make a guitar Ed Stilley reinvented the guitar.

The first step was to bend what would become the sides of the instrument. Stilley boiled strips of wood in a hog trough overnight and then threaded the supple pieces through pegs on his makeshift pegboard. After they dried, these pieces would determine the shape. He would join these pieces into a closed form and then fit the arched cross braces. Next, he pieced together whatever local woods he had on hand to form the gracefully arched top and back. The frets are made from brazing rods. The nut and saddle are made from steak bones.

Ed Stilley never considered what he was doing an ‘art.’ It was an act of pure devotion to God. This allowed him the freedom to create without the burden of ego. He wanted you to read True Faith, True Light, and Have Faith in God. He was most surprised to see his work featured at prestigious art exhibits, including the Arkansas State House Museum and the Walton Arts Center. He appreciated the attention, but his driving force remained pure devotion to the end.

Watch video of Ed Stilley at his workshop and playing the handmade instruments here.

Jim Lee

For this exhibit, Jim Lee is considered an 'Honorary Ozarker.' A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, he routinely explored the Arkansas Ozarks. On one such visit, Lee stumbled upon Jesse Jones, a legendary old-time storyteller and keeper of Ozark traditions. Jesse was also well known for the pressure cooker banjos he built. The two developed a close friendship, which nurtured Lee's deep and lasting connection with the Ozarks.

For Jim Lee, it is essential to 'know the tree before it could become an instrument.' His relationship with the tree was paramount. His work exhibits superb craftsmanship, respect for the wood, and unique and innovative design features. The carved backs are utterly unique to the guitar-making tradition.

These instruments represent a small sliver of Lee's artistic output. Born in 1936, Jim worked most of his life in a packing plant in Lincoln, Nebraska, and later in construction and as a river guide on the Niobrara River. He still managed to find time to build an astonishing collection of rocking chairs, coffee tables, lamps, covered wagons, picture frames, dioramas, and anything else that crossed his mind. Fortunately, Lee took snapshots of many of his creations, and a good representation of his work can be seen in the scrapbook included in this exhibit.

Watch video of Jim Lee speaking and performing at April Fools A Palooza (4/1/2023) with his handmade instruments here.

Past Exhibits

JUNE - OCTOBER 2022

Liza MacKinnon's Fashioned From Paper

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Dan Beck Fall Artist 

Dan Beck

Paintings and Environment

Mood Indigo

Mood Indigo

1986

Contagious Pernicious Inertia

Contagious Pernicious Inertia

1988

Nuclear Winter - Kansas

Nuclear Winter - Kansas

1985

Origin of Fossils

Origin of Fossils

1986

Kansas Wind

Kansas Wind

1988