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Parallel Lines


Exhibits are always changing! Check here for new, upcoming and past exhibitions!
May-September 2024

Things Imagined

in memory of Robert "Scarlett" Joy

1943 - 2023

"When asked if he had ever witnessed anything comparable to his creations, Robert "Scarlett" Joy responded, 'No one can do what I do...' For Robert, creating consumed his day-to-day existence—it was his sole pursuit, even during visits to the Shafer Gallery on the campus of Barton County Community College, a serene haven for his sketches. Armed with sharpie pens, watercolors, and colored pencils, he immersed himself in his craft, ceaselessly producing art at any given moment. He described his artistic process as akin to 'taking notes,' akin to journaling every thought and experience.

Despite graduating with a teaching certificate and a master's degree from Fort Hays State University, Robert maintained that his education was not solely responsible for his success. He credited art and speech classes as the primary drivers behind his graduation. In 2019, he asserted, 'My work is authentic, extending from my 76 years of life down into the soil, the grass, and deeper than the roots.' He added defiantly, 'If you think I'm not grassroots material... so be it.'"

In his later years, Robert began adopting the name "Scarlett," and many depictions of himself from around 2020 onward reflect this identity shift. You can identify the drawing from this period by the new Scarlett and cat signature of his own creation which he added to every drawing.

Artist Statement

“What was it that actually influenced my artistic ability the most? Well, I guess it was a little fluke in my brain and something I was completely unaware of until very late in life. I had a learning disability, but I didn't know it and maybe it was best that I didn't. In the 1950's and 60's, I was diagnosed by my teachers and peers as stupid and lazy. All I had to do was apply myself and I'd be as productive as everyone else. elieve me, there would have been no greater joy in my life than to be like everyone else.

Art & speech class seemed to be the only places I could excel. I actually did better in the speech class, because it had the least pressure on me to conform. Art class in high school was really geared to conformity, but I could at least fake conformity there and thus, I survived to graduate. Ieven ended up with a Master's degree in art from Fort Hays State University. I was eventually drafted, went to Vietnam, came home, got married, had kids, went back to college on the Gl bill, got a teaching certificate and taught junior high school art in Great Bend, Kansas for nine years.

I hadn't gone to college to hone my handwriting skills, but realized it was my own style and I didn't have to work at anything special to produce that style. I just moved my pen on a paper and there it was without the slightest effort. Why couldn't I just do the same thing in drawing and painting as when I wrote? So, I just simply started drawing and all the magic began to happen. My wonderful screwed up brain, with all its crazy way of seeing things just locked on to that freedom and off I went.

One of my two wonderful, talented daughters diagnosed this old head as ADHD and maybe my own little diagnosis of dyslexia has cleared up the mystery as to why I had such a horrible time in school. till, all that being said, being stupid and lazy on one side of my head helped the other side to become more developed. My brain just waited until I decided to stop trying so hard to conform to be with all those other motivated folks.It just waited until 1: finally did what came natural.

For me, creating is really just a matter of lines, and it just kind of goes through my mind. It's kind of a meditative state that I get into. It's like an addiction. l've got to have it. I wake up in the morning, and all I want to do is draw. People try too hard sometimes. They talk about "working on their style." Your style is already there. Some artists stay on the same thing forever. Me? I just can't do that.“

-Robert "Scarlett"Joy


Scarlett and Jesus walking into the sunset, exactly one year to date before Scarlett's passing. Dated March 28th, 2022 from one of Scarlett's sketchbooks, inquire more about this sketchbook when visiting the Grassroots Art Center summer exhibit.


Paint. Paper. Sculpture.


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.