- Featured Stories
- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
Artists are a passionate lot, and as most of us know from history, some are more temperamental than others.
As students in school, nearly all of us had the opportunity to study art and read about outstanding artists and how they impacted the world. We learned about Vincent van Gogh, a Dutch post-Impressionist painter who, in an act of passion, cut off his ear, or Michelangelo, a famous painter and sculptor who experienced paranoid insecurities and moods. These men, and others like Leonardo Da Vinci, shaped the history of art and gave the world new vision. By all accounts they were mysterious, intelligent, moody, quick-tempered, strong, reclusive and emotional.
However, the stereotypical artist’s temperament doesn’t exist when you talk to Carolyn Wallace about her artistic talent, love of art and lifelong career within the profession.
Instead, you are greeted with a genuine sense of artistic passion.
Carolyn’s face comes alive with exuberance, and her words exhibit inner-strength and self-assuredness. She talks enthusiastically about the path she has chosen and her lifelong fervor for the field. Her approach is spirited, and includes a high level of zeal and enthusiasm.
And, it’s that depth of personality and love of life that is captured in her artistic creations and distinctive accomplishments.
Recently Carolyn was accepted into Watercolor U.S.A. 2011, a goal she has been trying to achieve for 20 years. It is quite an honor.
Watercolor U.S.A. was first conceived in 1962, and today it is a nationally known, juried exhibition of water based painting hosted by the Springfield Art Museum. The show displays some of the country’s best known artists and jurors. As a competitive event the invitation only show is open to artists from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Hundreds of entries are received each year, but only a select few make the final cut for exhibition each year.
This year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the watercolor showcase, Carolyn has been selected as a participant. As a hopeful candidate she submitted two entries, and one has been chosen for the national show.
Carolyn’s two submissions were judged among 639 entries received from 42 states and the District of Columbia, and her watercolor entitled “Sapphire Pearls and a Smile” is one of 125 works deemed outstanding and on display this year.
The show, which opened to the public Saturday, June 11, is hosted by the Springfield Art Museum, 1111 East Brookside Drive, in Springfield, Mo.
Creatively, Carolyn is involved in a host of challenging art forms, but as she advances in the field of art, she is aware of a gradual shift toward painting, pottery, drawing and computer graphics. Those may be her favorites.
However, after 34-years of teaching high school art, she admits she has probably tried it all. In fact, her resume is quite impressive, as it includes a wide range of art forms – mosaics, murals, computer art, illustration, drawing, free-lance, commercial art, basket-weaving, and more.
Carolyn is also a distinguished resource for creative ideas and artwork on the national level. In the March-April issue of The P.E.O. Record, a publication highlighting the 70th international convention of P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization), Carolyn’s artistic talents are acknowledged in the magazine for designing the logo for the group’s international convention to be held in St. Louis this fall. The logo design is the special identifying symbol for the international session. Her drawing will be the focal point on all convention materials, as well as advertisements, mugs, charms, t-shirts, printed materials and more.
This recognition is just one of many outstanding accomplishments and achievements garnered by this small town girl.
Carolyn Coffey grew up in Platte City, Mo., a community 20 miles north of Kansas City, and a small town that today has a population of 5,200. After high school, Carolyn attended the University of Missouri where she earned a degree in Art Education, but during her years at the university, Carolyn also met her future husband, John Wallace, a native of Gainesville, Mo.
As a couple, and college graduates looking for teaching positions, the two found it quite timely that Ava R-1 had a need for an art teacher and a Vo-Ag instructor –– in fact, Ava was the only school district in Missouri with job openings in both fields. Making their home in Ava, Carolyn filled a position opened by the retirement of art teacher Dorothy Williams, and John assumed the responsibilities of the Vo-Ag department.
In 2007, after 34 years as an art teacher, Carolyn retired from duties at Ava R-1. However, many times during those years, she recalls that students would often want her to define “artist” and explain what it takes to choose the field as a career.
She readily admits that was a difficult question to answer, and her beliefs may not be mainstream because for Carolyn, art is a calling rather than a career. She feels that artistic abilities are given, and these special talents come with a price.
Artists sacrifice many hours in inspirational and imaginative labor that the outside world never views, and many times that creative commitment also includes intense loneliness and a vulnerability that may manifest into a hurt-filled life. Hence, the artistic temperament.
When looking back to childhood, Carolyn praises her mother for some of her creative tendencies. Her mother loved to knit, and Wallace affectionately remembers her mother taking a strand of yarn and weaving a beautiful creation, and the new design was always an object of incredible beauty.
And, like her mother’s knitting, Carolyn feels that art and life are “like a meandering thread that overlaps the life threads of others in a design of beautiful complexity.” These meandering ribbons and threads are the “life interlacings” of her works, and her inspirations.
During her career, Carolyn has exhibited works in a host of shows – Best of Missouri Hands Juried Artisan Showcase, Silver Dollar City, MSU Art and Design Gallery, SVAA Juried Art Shows, Hawthorn Gallery, Monarch Art Factory Gallery, Connecting Art Show, Williams Woods Show, Red Barn Art Festival, and Ava Art Guild Gallery, and more. Commissioned pieces are also a part of her repertoire.
She has also received many honors and awards –– second place, FineArtAmerica; recognitions from ARTstravaganza Poster Award in 2006, and 2008; Ava Art Guild Best of Show Award, and People’s Choice Award.
Carolyn has been featured in several periodicals: as the artist of the month in the February 2009, Best of Missouri Hands publication; Missouri Life, October 2006; and Healthy Planet magazine cover.
For the duration of her career as a teacher and skilled artist, Carolyn and John also raised a family of three. Their oldest daughter Lydia, is a television news producer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she lives with her husband, Daniel Ostmo; middle son, Kyle, works nearby at DOCO Sheltered Workshop and lives at home; and Andrew, the youngest, is a student at the University of Missouri in Columbia, with plans to graduate from his parent’s alma mater. And, as it should be, these three treasures are her most valuable works and pieces of art.
A true talent, Carolyn has used her gifts wisely throughout life’s interlacings, and she has worked endlessly to achieve a high level of success. She is a gifted and talented individual in our community, and an asset to our beautiful Ozark hills. Her accolades bring honor to us all.
The fabric of Carolyn’s threads are interlaced throughout the Ava area and community with her gifts as a wife, mother, teacher and artist. She has touched many lives.
And, today, her artistic passions endure. Life continues to be an imaginative, inspirational puzzle –– with many more creations yet to be conceived.