Betcha that more conversations about art occurred last week in Chariton than, well, maybe ever --- thanks to Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street, which came up with the Art Attack concept, and the Lucas County Arts Council, sponsor of the Fall Arts Festival that punctuated the week on Saturday.
This year's array of artists at the Freight House was as diverse as I've seen during this annual event, so visiting with a few of them, ranging from newcomers to veterans, was more fun that ever. Wish I knew more about art --- then maybe I'd be able to ask intelligent and probing questions about the meaning of art and life in general. Sadly, most of my conversations begin with, "where ya'll from?"
Leon Drake's lively images (top) were the first to really catch my eye Saturday. That's his mother, Joy, in the photo, too. I forced her to sit there. Everyone has to understand that if you're a hometown boy, who you're related to is important, too. Leon is a Chariton High School graduate who now teaches elementary art in the Grinnell school system.
I added his colorful work at left to my virtual wall --- the only practical thing to do when all the actual walls already are covered.
Farther down the line, Jacob Yeates' stunningly dynamic and detailed works practically jumped off the wall. Jacob is from Iowa City and that's his mother, Beth, beside him. I forced her to be in the photograph, too.
Jacob's grandparents are Chariton's Bill and Carol Marner, and I ran into Granddad out in the Freight House reception area fussing a little about whether Jacob would be able to find his artistic niche in a place like Chariton. I don't see that as an issue, frankly.
Unfortunately, I am not an accomplished photographer of artwork and difficulties with overhead lighting and a pesky flash reflecting off glass defeated me here. But this is Jacob's addition to my virtual wall.
Two of Jacob's olive-drab digital works, more abstract than most here, were on display uptown during Art Attack last week and generated some interesting conversations about "modern art" that I overheard.
One of my favorite local artists, Susan Baer, recently retired as an art teacher in the Chariton school system, was located at the far end of the Freight House. Susan doesn't exhibit here every year, so it was a treat to see her back again.
In the interests of fair disclosure, she's among the Chariton artists I generally drink coffee with on Monday mornings, so I get to see many of her works in various stages then. She is a master of detail, like Jacob, and a master colorist, too, as well as extraordinarily versatile.
So I added this work, fascinating patterns in warm colors, to my virtual wall.
Headed back toward the free cookies, I stopped to visit with James Rotz, who has managed to master nearly every medium he's encountered but has been focused recently on sculptural pieces shaped from driftwood gathered along the shoreline of Lake Rathbun, where he has lived for several years on a wonderful place that includes Timberview Tower.
Rather than trying to talk about what it is that he does, your best bet is to go to his Web site, which is located here. The big piece here, somewhat large for my living room although I'd be willing to try it, had been on display until picked up for Saturday's trip to Chariton in the lodge at Honey Creek Resort.
And there's some really good news for Chariton here. The Rotz family has sold its beautiful timbered acreage near the lake and purchased an acreage just south of Chairiton --- downsizing so he can devote more time to his artwork. So they're about to become Lucas Countyans, too.