The paintings currently on display at the 5.4.7 Arts Center were made by a close knit group of painters who get together weekly to work together on their art and learn from one other. For several of the artists, painting is something they have re-discovered in the past few years.
“People learn more from painting together than from all the books in the world,” said Don Schroeder, one of the six artists whose work is on display.
The artists represented at the 5.4.7 Arts Center are Schroeder and five women – Mary Lou Schnoebelen, Nora Taylor, Janie Schmidt, Jennifer Gleason and LouAnn Montgomery, Schroeder’s sister, who lives in San Antonio, Texas. All the others live in the Kiowa, Edwards and Ford County region.
Schroeder has drawn and dabbled in art all his life, but it has been in the past few years that he has started taking it seriously. He took lessons in Kissimmee, Florida where he lives during the winter. (He lives 10 miles north of Greensburg during the rest of the year.)
Around three or four years ago upon returning to Kansas from Florida, Schroeder asked Gleason if she knew of a place where he could paint. She offered a room in the back of the gift shop she owns in Kinsley – Good Company. The room was opened to others who wanted to paint and soon Gleason and the four other women were painting there with Schroeder every Wednesday.
“It’s sacred painting day,” Schroeder said. “It seems like every Wednesday. By and large, there’s never less than three of us there and sometimes five or six.”
Schroeder’s first art show took place in 2013 in Dodge City. His second was in Wichita in 2014.
“This time I decided the girls were coming with me,” he said.
The show in Greensburg is actually their second show together. The group’s art was on display this past September at Artlandia in Hutchinson.
Passion for art
All the artists’ work belongs together, Schroeder said.
“None of it seems out of place with anything else and that’s a rarity.”
Gleason said, “Everybody has their own strength and a little different style of painting.”
Schnoebelen said, “It’s an inspiring group to work with. They’re fun. We’ve developed a camaraderie that’s great. They’ll give you helpful critiques and they appreciate your work even though it’s different from what they’ve done. The diversity has really been fun.”
As a little girl, Gleason would draw with her grandmother, who was an artist. Gleason always loved art, but said she “put it on the shelf” when she started having children. Her kids are now teenagers.
“My kids got older and I realized this might be a good time to take it back up,” she said. “I was able to pull it back off the shelf. It’s almost like it’s launched again. It‘s nice to have my hand back in it.”
Montgomery, who is part of the group by proxy, said, “It’s very heartwarming to feel included and it really makes me smile.”
She said her brother, Schroeder, “has always been my mentor and he’s the one who got me started back in painting two years ago.”
Schroeder, 72, said, “It took me a lifetime to learn but the past three-and-a-half years the light bulbs came on and there’s no better way to keep the lights on than to tell other people.”
He has taught some art classes, including a “kids’ class,” but said he does not charge.
“It becomes stale if you charge,” he said. “If I wanted to make it a business I fear I’d lose whatever edge I have.”
Gleason said, “I’ve always had a passion for art. It felt like part of me was reawakened when I was able to take that gift off the shelf. Whatever talent God’s given you, you feel better when you can exercise it.”
The group’s paintings will on display at the 5.4.7 Arts Center. Museum hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. From 9 a.m. until 4:30 or 5 p.m. Saturdays while the display is featured, Schroeder and/or one or more of the ladies from the group will be at the 5.4.7 Arts Center, painting, and people are welcome to visit the gallery and even paint alongside the group if they wish to.