Painter of Eureka Springs

October Show at Studio 62: Jody Stephenson, Painter of Eureka Springs

Magnolia Street - Eureka Springs

Magnolia Street – Eureka Springs

During the entire month of October, Jody Stephenson will be exhibiting twenty-five new paintings of Eureka Springs and the surrounding area–many completed en plein air with the Plein Air Painters of Eureka Springs (P.A.P.E.S.), a group she co-founded with Dixie Westerman nearly ten years ago. There will be a special reception for the show during the October Gallery Stroll at Studio 62 on October 11 from 4-7 p.m.

Jody said about her show, “Without being presumptuous, I would like to be remembered as a painter of Eureka Springs. I have loved Eureka Springs since I first visited here when I was twelve years old and stayed at the Joy Motel with my family. Swimming in their pool surrounded by trees and hills was paradise for a girl from Kansas. It was, and still is, a dream come true to live here.”

In case you missed Ron Lutz’s show, The Art of Negative Thinking, at the Eureka Fine Art Gallery during September, you will have another chance to view it at Studio 62 during the month of October. Ron utilizes a variety of photographic processes from old and new–including pinhole, large format, and digital photography. Ron’s photography has been in juried exhibits at Crystal Bridges, Loveland Museum of Art, and Oakland Museum.

Studio 62, next to the Bavarian Inn, on west Highway 62 in Eureka Springs. www.studio62.biz. 479.363.9209.

 

 

 

Art as Prayer 2014

9th Annual “Art as Prayer” Exhibit at Studio 62 in Eureka Springs. May 1-31, 2014

To View Exhibit on-line

A month-long exhibit of Come Away With Meprayerful works of art.

Studio 62 in Eureka Springs is hosting its 9th Annual Art as Prayer—a month-long exhibition of original works, utilizing art as a vehicle to spirituality. Open 10-5 daily except Wednesdays. Studio 62 is the gallery of resident artists, Jody Stephenson and Ron Lutz. Open year-round. On Highway 62 West in Eureka Springs, next to Bavarian Inn. 479.363.9209. www.studio62.biz

“To pray is to work; to work is to pray.” The Motto of the Benedictine Order could easily describe the artistic vocation—a life dedicated to work, born of love and devotion. In many ways, the artist’s life is similar to the taking of a monastic vow—committing to a life of solitude, meditation, and single-mindedness. Art documents the spiritual journey of the artist. Each painting could be considered a prayer along the way, a mile marker on the path toward artistic maturity. Looking at a work of art is like reading someone’s mail or listening to their prayers. It’s a chance to get inside the mind of the artist, to see how another person sees the world.

Benjamin Franklin said to “Work as if you were to live a hundred years, pray as if you were to die tomorrow.” (Poor Richard’s Almanac) That’s what artists do every day.

 

Flowers that Last

February, the month of Valentines, chocolate and flowers….and an art show of Olympic proportions…Flowers that Last, a special exhibit of floral paintings by Jody Stephenson, on view through February at Studio 62. Come see the show on Valentine’s Day and enjoy complimentary Tea and Chocolates. Register to win an original floral painting—just in time to give to your special someone on Valentine’s evening. Studio 62 is open year-round for all your custom framing needs, 10-5 daily, except Wednesdays. Studio 62, the little gallery with a lot of heart.”

Head in the Clouds

An exhibition of cloud paintings by Jody Stephenson.

Show held over through the month of December!

November 1-30, 2013 at the Stone House.

Jody attributes her love for cloud-gazing to a Kansas childhood where the big sky was the main event. Along with her photographer-husband Ron Lutz, she is co-owner and artist-in-residence of Studio 62 in Eureka Springs (on Highway 62, next to Bavarian Inn). Jody has been a resident of Eureka Springs for 24 years, and has been painting for over 40 years.

New Cloud Paintings

There’s nothing like painting clouds to take one’s mind off the summertime heat. Here are some recent works based on memories of my Kansas upbringing, land of big windblown skies. I love the tree-laden hillsides of northwest Arkansas and the intimate beauty of Eureka Springs, but sometimes I miss immersing myself in the unobstructed vistas of my younger days.

Crying Myself to Sunday School

VictoriousI’m not sure how or when I made the commitment to teach a weekly Bible class on Sunday mornings, but I’m now in the middle of my third year at it. My faithful band of followers and I dutifully read through the entire Bible every year—each time with less clarity, fewer illusions, and more humility.

Often in the early morning Sunday darkness, I feel such loathing and trepidation at the thought of the impending class that I sigh to God, “I just can’t do it.” But there is no one else at the moment. If I quit, it might be the end of the class. Not that I’m so important, but that’s just the way it is. Sunday mornings I feel the weight crushing me and often end up crying all the way to the church. I know it’s a divine appointment because it’s iron clad, and just my size, and there’s no way out of it.

When I don’t feel like reading the Bible, I remind myself that Chinese Christians are literally dying to possess a copy of the Scriptures. People in remote regions of countries I’ve never heard of are willing to walk miles to copy it by hand. How can I be so calloused, so ungrateful?

When I read the Bible, I wonder if I’m even a Christian at all. I’m still a selfish American striving after my own desires and ambitions, with the same pettiness and woundedness I’ve known for too long. I don’t have the commitment or faith that I see in the record of God’s people. I can’t live up to the high demands of Christ—not for one day or even one hour. His command to love each other as he loved us is just too lofty. In my own life situations I can’t answer the question, “What would Jesus do?”

Reading the Bible brings me face to face with a God that is unlike anything my little theories and doctrines have managed to pin down. He’s a wild and crazy God who often doesn’t even play by his own rules. The churches I’ve attended in my life are just as confused about God as I am, maybe more. Many of the Christians I know operate under the same load of religious guilt that I do. The church often uses this codependent quality of the rank and file to its own advantage. But try as they might, God will not be reduced to their Book of Discipline, or to the bylaws of any manmade institution.

Instead of the gospel being the declaration of independence that it truly is, it has pinned my heart under a mountain of guilt. It’s not the Bible that makes me cry all the way to Sunday School. It’s the crippling notion that God wants something from me that I can’t give, that God is an impossible angry man like my ex-husband. But that also is a manmade notion, and a crippling one at that. Because the God of the Bible is the one who got dirty when he washed the feet of his clueless disciples, who touched lepers and made them clean, who made paste from mud and spittle and cured the eyes of a blind man. He’s the God who rode on a donkey, who cried forsaken in the garden,  to raise triumphant over death and darkness. This same God is the one who cares about my little Sunday school class, who keeps me struggling with his word—the one who won’t be ignored or pigeonholed, the one who says in the middle of Saturday night, “Yes, you can and you will.”

 

Go Figure!

go figure - grouping of brea paintings w“Go Figure” is the new show at Main Stage, a selection of paintings by Plein Air Painters of Eureka Springs (P.A.P.E.S.) But they are not plein air paintings; they’re figure paintings. Since the weather doesn’t permit our group to paint outdoors during the off-season, we have moved our painting sessions indoors where we are working from live models. Every week we have a 3-hour session, generally with a different model, where we try our best to finish the paintings alla prima (Italian, meaning at first attempt). Alas, sometimes we have to take them home and polish them up to be happy with the finished products. The paintings in the show are grouped by session, so it gives the viewers a chance to see the same figure/pose done by different artists in a variety of media and sizes. It’s a fun show that will be on display during weekends through March.

He Emptied Himself

      The painting, He Emptied Himself, is an interpretation of the verse in Philippians about Jesus—making himself nothing, taking on the nature of a human servant and humbling himself to live as we do. I’m not very computer-savvy but I’m told by a friend that in order to send files over the internet, they have to be compressed. They contain the same amount of information but they are compressed, and then expanded again. This is a good illustration of the idea of God pouring himself into a body. The same contents are there, but in a different container, kind of like a compressed file. Theologians have long discussed this idea, since the very early foundation of the church. It is hard to comprehend the eternal God pouring himself into the body of a servant. How can such a thing be possible? There has apparently been much discussion of what exactly Jesus emptied himself of—his divine powers, his divine attributes, or something else entirely. What we do know is that Jesus voluntarily chose the path of humiliation, taking on limitations that we will never fully understand, because we don’t know what it’s like to be without limitations. Jesus was the ultimate hero of history and made the ultimate sacrifice, leaving the comfort and splendor of his legitimate place for one reason: to rescue us from evil. He faced death to give us life, enduring what no one else ever could or would have to endure—the rightful king humiliating himself for the sake of love. Someday, this king will once again sit on the throne and everything will be as it was intended.
(Scripture reference: Philippians 2:7-8)
Excerpt from Faltering Towards Perfection: Art, Faith, & Everything In Between by Jody Stephenson, Planet Eureka Springs Press, 2007.

 

Glory of the Lord

 

It’s a famous chorus in Handel’s Messiah: “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed…” It’s a much longed-for event, even though people may not know they are hoping for it. I hear it all the time, “Things are so screwed up. How can they ever be made right?” That’s the heart-cry of the little people, of the Occupy movement, of the underemployed and uninsured, “Who will be our advocate against the great injustice of our time?” That’s the longing for God to make things right, for the true light of the world to eradicate the darkness of our time. Jesus came as a lowly baby, but he will return as king. He will make all things right.