What is Lift Up Art?
Lift Up Art is your opportunity to support the visual arts in North Texas by honoring or memorializing the individuals who brought art into your life or have kept you “art inspired”. Notification of donations will be mailed to all Honorees, along with a keepsake magnet of this year’s Lift Up Artist’s work.
Donations honoring your favorite artist or patron will be presented on our wall of recognition through January 2020 and the April-June 2020 Member Newsletter. Donations can be made by clicking here: Donate To Lift Up Art Online.
Who Is The 2019 Lift Up Art Artist?
This year the Arts Council Wichita Falls honors Betty Higgins (1935 – 2018). Ms. Higgins was a Lubbock native who attended Texas Tech University and came to Wichita Falls in 1965. She was deeply involved in a host of arts organizations and events throughout her life, including as a key volunteer on the iconic Wichita Falls Museum of Art annual “Spring Fling” event. She went on to become an employee at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art and was an integral volunteer here at The Arts Council.
Her meticulous attention to detail not only graced the events she participated in but was evident throughout her extensive body of artwork. She’s known primarily for her painting in oil, acrylic and watercolor and for her interest in stained glass and pottery. Ms. Higgins was a methodical technician, applying her process to understanding her media, spending significant time learning to control the material and creating works of crisp detail and beautiful clarity.
Ms. Higgins was a pivotal member of the Arts Council Mystery Art committee and her generous support was vital to the success of that event over the years. The Arts Council is very proud to feature her artwork in Lift Up Art in 2019.
Can I Buy Lift Up Art Artwork?
While most Lift Up Art pieces are not directly for sale, we do make two pieces available for reproduction from Request-A-Print. Request-A-Print is nationally known for their high-quality fine art reproductions. We’re very proud to be able to participate in this service to provide an opportunity to purchase fine-art prints of Lift Up Art artwork. To see the artwork available, please visit Request-A-Print online (click this link).
Who Are The Previous Lift Up Art Artists?
The Lift Up Art program has allowed us to celebrate several artists over the years. Scroll down to see all the artists or click the links below to go to each previous honoree:
Richard Ash’s influence on the arts community is deeply-felt and continues to resonate. He was a Professor of art in the Harvey School of Visual Arts at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, TX from 1968 – 2007. In addition to teaching printmaking and drawing, he chaired the art program for fourteen years and directed the university gallery and its Visiting Artist Program from 1978 – 2002.
Mr. Ash’s primary focus has always been on printmaking, bringing this specialized field of study to countless Wichita Falls students over the years. He is a graduate of Wichita State University, Wichita, KS where he earned his B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees. He was awarded the Hardin Foundation Distinguished Professorship in 1979. The Arts Council is very proud to feature his work in this year’s Lift Up Art program.
“My first memorable art experience as a freshman in art school revolved around seeing an etching being printed. The plate and paper appeared as one thing on the left side of the press, and something else on the right…magic! Nothing else mattered. After that moment, I was hooked.” – Richard Ash
Jack Stevens dedicated most of his life to the arts, as evidenced by the many sculptures throughout the community, and has generously shared his talents with the Arts Council.
Jack was born in 1934 in a small ranching community in West Texas. Orphaned at a young age, in order to survive he went to work on cattle ranches in West Texas and New Mexico. It was here that he witnessed the artistry of the toiling cowboy, the physique of the horses working the herd, and the raw strength of the cattle. His first art was rendered on the blade of a shovel with a piece of charcoal from a wood fire. Becoming a full time artist in 1970, Jack has worked on paintings, drawings, and sculptures at his ranch home. His works can be seen on public display throughout the North Texas area and are in private collections world-wide, but all reflect his early images and real life experiences of America’s western culture.
Dean Kraken, former managing director of Cowboy Hall of Fame, has said “Jack Stevens has a fine and real feeling for the subject he sculptures and the West. He has the working cowboy’s outlook on life as well as artistically. Jack is just right for depicting the West as it was…and is. He has lived it…he still lives it…and his work will live on as an artistic memory of a great heritage.”
Mary Palmer has an exciting and unusual history; her watercolors reflect her early years in the Australian Outback where her family grazed sheep on a 9 by 7 mile strip of land. Born in 1918 in Melbourne, Australia, she spent her early years on her family’s sheep farm, Warriup, some 2000 miles west on the remote southwestern coast. During her early years, she entertained herself by picking flowers for the many researchers who came to pick specimens that grew there. It was the colors and forms of these flowers that piqued her interest in art. She began to paint the florals, still life, and landscapes that she experienced when she was seven.
Mary’s roots go deep in Australia; her great-grandfather was the first person to own private land in Western Australia and her grandfather, A.Y. Hassell, helped draft the constitution for the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 and served as a member of parliament for 40 years. He was not the only family member to serve the homeland. After witnessing the emergence of a Japanese submarine off the coast In the early days of World War II, Mary joined the Royal Australian Air Force – one of the first 30 women to do so. Prior to her RAF days, Mary studied painting at the University of Western Australia and taught all grade levels at an all-girls school. She studied art at the Australian School of Sketching and the Perth Institute of Art. During the war, she served as a drill instructor, training 40 women every three weeks. During this time, Mary met an American naval serviceman who was serving in the Philippines and Dutch East Indies; his fleet sought refuge in Australia after fleeing from the Japanese. They married and following his military career, they settled in Wichita Falls.
Over the years, Mary has taught art lessons to students from 7 to 94 years. She encourages us all as she “has a go at it,” still painting and teaching at the age of 98.
Glen Issac Conway (1929 – 2015) was born in Denton County, TX, but completed his public education in Oklahoma. He then returned to Texas to attend the University of North Texas, receiving his BA degree in 1951. After serving in the Army for two years, he moved to Wichita Falls where he taught art at Harrell Elementary, Barwise and Hirschi Junior High Schools. Shortly after he began his teaching career, he again enrolled in UNT and received his Masters of Education degree. He also studied art at the University of Colorado the summer of 1961. During the 1960s, Glen taught Saturday morning art classes to children age ten and under through a program at Midwestern State University. Before retiring from Wichita Falls ISD in 1988, he also taught mechanical drawing and distributive education.
Glen was active in the Wichita Falls Art Association for many years and won First Place Overall for an abstract water color at an art show sponsored by the Art Association. Over the years, he donated 30 gallons of blood to the Red Cross. He and Retta Bradford married in 1956, and had three children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Mr. Conway was a teacher for over 35 years and in that time he touched the hearts of many students and gave them the inspiration to be artists.
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Polly Cox (1921 – 2005) was born in Wichita Falls and earned an art degree in 1942 at Sophie Newcomb College where she met her husband, Aubrey Cox who became a physician. After he served in World War II the couple moved to Wichita Falls. Polly continued to refine her art by attending classes and workshops all over the world. She was very involved with the Wichita Falls Art Association serving as the president many times and later being named as an honorary lifetime member. She has acquired numerous awards and acclaim and has been featured in books and magazines, especially for her watercolors. Polly always strived to learn more about art and mastered many types of mediums including painting, ceramics, watercolors, and even constructing the costumes for the Wichita Falls Ballet Theatre too. Her artwork has been extensively exhibited in Dallas, Santa Fe, and many venues in Wichita Falls. Polly Cox felt very strongly that she wanted to reflect her travels, throughout the world, in her artwork focusing on the beauty and to point out the richness, value, and the natural wonder of the things that affirm our lives.
Steve Grey’s (1952-2003) desire for his final exhibit at the Kemp Center, weeks before he died, was to just focus on positive things, but anyone who knows his art recognizes that his focus was always positive. Early on, Steve determined that he would make his living from art which led him to be a courtroom illustrator, a portrait artist, and an art teacher. It was Wichita Falls’ good fortune when McClurkan’s hired Grey in 1977 as a fashion illustrator. He quickly became a positive force in the city’s art scene teaching classes, holding workshops and producing works that hang in numerous homes here and across the nation. But it was Grey’s exuberant use of color, his larger-than-life flowers, and children playing on the beach that best summed up his life. On loan for many years at the Kemp is Grey’s bold, cheerful work entitled “L’Effet que tu me fais” – roughly translated “the effect you have on me” which describes the profound effect that he has had on art in Wichita Falls.
Scottie Parsons (1925-2011) began her life in Watonga, Oklahoma, in 1925 and later pursued a career as an art teacher in the Wichita Falls elementary school system. Parsons married Frank D. Stewart with whom she had three children. After Stewart’s death, Parsons later on married Dr. Clyde Parsons. Her artwork became well-known and acclaimed for its brilliant colors and textures. Scottie was a featured artist at the William Campbell Contemporary Art Gallery in Fort Worth, and at the LewAllen Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe. She became known worldwide when her paintings were displayed at the embassies at the Vatican and in Lima, Peru. The Kemp Center for the Arts is very proud to have on permanent display “Cantos of Pioneers I & II” by Scottie Parsons, an acquisition made possible by Mary Wood.