Warrensburg artist Gary Cadwallader’s large acrylic painting “Refuge” not only received a $700 cash award in the Missouri Top 50 Show at the Missouri State Fair Aug. 10, but was also honored as the purchase award, receiving $950 from State Fair Community College.
“I thought I would do well, I didn’t think I’d do that well,” Cadwallader said Monday. “I was slightly conflicted, because Jodi Harsch and I have a show starting in September in Prairie Village (Kansas) and it runs all month. We need 20 pieces a piece, and that was going to be the centerpiece of mine.
“I had a little bit of sadness to see my baby leave the nest,” he added. “But, also I was kind of glad, because apparently the president of the college said she liked it so much she wants it to be in her office.”
This week Cadwallader is one of the MSF artists-in-residence demonstrating in the Fine Arts Building. He said the inspiration for “Refuge,” which features a large tree in the fall with a low-slug sun filtering through the leaves, came from his own home.
“There’s a tree similar to that along my driveway,” he said. “I happened to be walking by one day as the sun was setting behind that, and I took a picture real quick.
“When I was a kid is used to hang out in the park,” he added. “I lived in Kansas City, up by Swope Park, and I’d ride my bike all over creation. For some reason it was just really fun to get up underneath those pine trees that hang down. You could be up there, and you were safe. You could look out at the whole world and they couldn’t see you.”
Painting “Refuge” originated from those fond childhood memories and the photo of the tree by his driveway. The piece is 48-by-60-inches. Cadwallader said it usually takes 40 hours to paint one of his pieces. He also paints with watercolor.
While attending college Cadwallader received a bachelors degree in art, but laid his brushes aside and went into the computer field. It was only six years ago, after retiring as a hospital computer systems analyst, that he began paint again.
“I figured out that I could program computers and I was pretty good at it,” he noted. “So, I did that for 30 or 35 years.”
Retracing his arts background has been worthwhile. Besides the MSF awards this year, Cadwallader received third place and $500 at the Heartland Show in Merriam, Kansas, for his large watercolor painting “Waterlilies and Koi.” In the Mid-Missouri Artists Show in Warrensburg he received Best of Show for “Refuge.”
“Last September I won best in show at the Missouri Watercolor Society Members’ Show,” he said. “So this September I’ll be the judge.”
Cadwallader said he produces between 10 to 12 watercolors and at least two large acrylic paintings a year. He’s working toward hosting a couple solo shows in the future, and instead of his usual flora and fauna themes he plans to submit two bull riding art entries in the Buttonwood Arts Space Show in Kansas City. The show is a benefit for the Flint Hills in Kansas.
Cadwallader is the first vice president of Mid-Missouri Arts in Warrensburg and a member of the Sedalia Visual Art Association. He will be demonstrating from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday downstairs at the Fine Arts Building at the MSF.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.