Honoring artists who have given a lifetime to the community


Each year our committee selects a local artist or arts educator who has given extensively to our regional arts community throughout their lifetime.

This person is then the featured artist of the year and their artwork graces the keepsake magnet.  We also display an exhibit of their work at The Kemp.

Making a donation provides you an opportunity to support the visual arts in North Texas while honoring or memorializing individuals who brought art into your life or have kept you "art inspired". 


How Does It Work?


    Select your honoree or memorial

    This is a great way to thank someone who has inspired your love of the arts!


    Designate a recipient for the keepsake magnet

    This can be the honoree you select or, for memorials, someone you'd like to notify of the donation (for instance a child, spouse, or parent of the honoree).


    Notification and recognition of your donation

    We'll notify your recipient that a donation was made in their honor and send them their keepsake magnet of this year's artwork. We'll also post your name and your recipient's name on our Wall of Recognition at The Kemp.


    Treat yourself!

    Don't forget, you can also donate in your own name.  The magnet will be sent to your address and listed on the wall under your name.

  • Buy Prints

    You can also purchase gallery-quality prints of many of our Lift Up Art artists' artwork from Request-A-Print.

2023 Joan Engelman



Past Lift Up Art Featured Artists

Ken Jahnke (1939-present) is a native of Wisconsin, where he studied art both in school andthrough private lessons. An avid hobbyist painter, Ken studied under 2013 Lift Up Art artist SteveGrey, who was his critic, mentor, and friend.In recent years, he moved from painting to carving and enjoys the satisfaction of learning a newartistic skill.

Gary Kingcade (1947-present) was born and raised in Wichita Falls, graduated from Midwestern State University, and taught art in the WFISD for 40 years. As a hugely popular art educator, he impacted the lives of hundreds of local students. In addition to teaching art, Mr. Kingcade has been a working artist throughout his lifetime, primarily in painting, but also sculpture and jewelry making. With a deeply felt connection to the land, his painting focuses on both the physical and the spiritual landscape of regional Texas and beyond.

Tom Crossnoe (1925-2007) was a Professor of Art at Midwestern State University for many years, serving as Chair of the Art Department from 1966 to 1986. He was instrumental in encouraging the support of the Fain Fine Arts Center at MSU, including the modernized metalsmithing, printmaking, and ceramics facilities and the Juanita Harvey Gallery. His leadership also nurtured the world-class MSU Visiting Artist program that still runs today. His is influence on the arts in Wichita Falls was widely felt, from students to professional artist.

Betty Higgins (1935 - 2018) 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

Richard Ash’s (1943 – 2019) 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 was always on printmaking, bringing this specialized field of study to countless Wichita Falls students over the years. He was a vocal advocate for printmaking. “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.”

Mr. Ash was 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.

Jack Stevens (1934 - 2019) was a cowboy, a bronc rider, a rancher, and above all, an artist. Born in Thornberry and settled in Iowa Park, his works large and small are iconic to the Texoma region. Orphaned at a young age, to survive he went to work on cattle ranches in West Texas and New Mexico. It was there 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. Today, 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.

From an early age, expressing his surroundings through art was fundamental to his life. As an adult, he found meaning and a spiritual connection to those around him through his art. But folks don’t only remember him for the beautiful work he created. They also remember him for his deep love of sharing his world and vision with his friends and patrons. This passion for helping others through his art is what continues to make him a legend in our community.

Mary Palmer (1918 - 2018) had 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, she spent her early years on her family’s sheep farm some 2000 miles west on the remote southwestern coast. As a young child, she entertained herself by picking flowers for the many researchers who came to collect specimens that grew there. It was the colors and forms of these flowers that piqued her interest in art.

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. He wasn’t 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. They married and, following his military career, they settled in Wichita Falls. Over the years, Mary taught art lessons to students from 7 to 94 years. She encouraged us all to just "have a go at it,” and was still painting and teaching at the age of 98.

Glen Isaac 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. 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.

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 media 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 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.


For more information about Lift Up Art please contact:
Kristine Thueson
Arts & Education Programming
(940) 767-2787 ext. 202