Art for the arts

Painter, ceramicist put work on display to benefit university fund

Terry Shepherd, artist in residence at The Art Center, is well-known in the Grand Valley for his stoneware and porcelain. His work will be on display along with paintings by Jac Kephart from Friday, Jan. 20, through Feb. 17 in the Art Gallery in the Colorado Mesa University Center. A reception for the exhibit will be from 6–9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20.

Jac Kephart is an abstract and landscape painter and over the years his paintings have been included in the Colorado Governor’s Show and exhibits in a number of galleries and states. The exhibit at the Colorado Mesa University’s Art Gallery is his first Grand Valley show in nearly 20 years.

Some people write checks. Others guest lecture. When it came time for Jac Kephart and Terry Shepherd to show support for their alma mater, the men decided to give back in the best way they know how: through art.

For the first time, Kephart and Shepherd, who have nearly 80 years combined professional art experience, will show together in exhibit at Colorado Mesa University’s Art Gallery to help raise awareness and funds for the school’s Legacy Campaign Art Department Endowment.

The painter and the ceramicist, who both attended the university when it was a two-year college, each donated a piece to be part of a silent auction during a reception from 6–9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, at the Art Gallery on the first floor of the University Center.

In addition, a portion of the sales form the exhibit will be given to the Art Endowment Fund and used to fund guest artist visits, special projects and the purchase of special equipment — items “above and beyond the general instruction,” said Suzie Garner, who heads up the university’s art department.

Shepherd, a professional ceramicist for nearly 40 years, remembers a guest artist visiting his classes while he was a student at Mesa College in the early 1970s. Although Shepherd doesn’t remember who the artist was, he remembers the artist came with a portable kiln and knowledge about the real world of making and selling art.

“It showed you can do it,” Shepherd said. “It was important.”

Consequently, Shepherd supports the establishment of the Art Endowment Fund, which is just one in a number of endowments established as part of the university’s overall Legacy Campaign, which aims to raise money for multiple academic programs to improve the university’s offerings as state funding for the school gets cut, said Rick Taggart, executive director of marketing and recruitment at the university.

“I view the fine arts as an important evolution of the community,” Taggart said.

Currently, the university’s art department has 286 students majoring in art, which includes everything from graphic design to art history, Garner said.

That is quite an expansion from the early 1950s, when Kephart was a student and the art department was no larger than the university’s new Art Gallery, joked the painter as he hung his work in the gallery on Monday, Jan. 16.

Kephart will show nearly a dozen abstract paintings and one landscape piece of Lake Powell. Arguably most famous for his abstracts, which are represented in a number of galleries from Fort Worth, Texas, to Seattle, Kephart has not had a local show in nearly 20 years, he said.

Kephart uses construction materials such as grout, tar and metals to form interesting textures and colors on his paintings.

Shepherd will display more than a dozen ceramic pieces of various sizes, including small mugs and larger vases with intricate glaze designs.

While setting up for the show, the men complimented each other and expressed excitement at the opportunity to work together for the first time in their careers.

Shepherd and Kephart plan to attend Friday’s opening reception in the Art Gallery, where people can learn more about their work.

Those unable to attend the opening reception can visit the Art Gallery from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The exhibit closes Friday, Feb. 17. Admission is free.


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