Art Center recognizes inmate’s pencil drawings
Star Barham hasn’t seen her son in nearly two years.
But she’s watched him grow — one stroke of a pencil at a time.
Jerimy Gadberry, 31, draws dreamy visions of clowns, sorrowful hearts and glimpses of mountains from his prison cell as Colorado Department of Corrections inmate 107697 at the Buena Vista Correctional Complex.
“I’m able to tell his mood from his drawings,” said Barham, 51, of Grand Junction. “When he first started doing this, you could see pain, confusion ... just kind of freaky designs.”
“Now, he talks about how beautiful the view is outside his cell.”
Gadberry’s work — 13 elaborate pencil drawings scrawled on the front of envelopes containing letters mailed by Gadberry to his mother from Mesa County Jail and state prison — were selected for display at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts, 1803 N. Seventh St.
They’ll be displayed through Nov. 7 as part of the center’s exhibition, “Sun Worshipers and Junk Yard Dogs.”
Camille Silverman, exhibition curator, said the staff wanted to show artists from a variety of backgrounds who used simple materials to express themselves.
“I liked the fact these were made for his mother and not an art exhibit,” Silverman said. “They’re perfect artifacts and diaries.
“Most of us just throw our envelopes away.”
Gadberry’s work nearly missed Sliverman’s eye.
Barham earlier this year showed up at the Art Center with photographs of her son’s work. As she was walking away after meeting with Silverman, several envelopes with Gadberry’s designs fell from a portfolio.
Silverman immediately wanted them in the show.
“We don’t get a lot of work like that,” she said. “(Gadberry) makes strong pencil marks and others that are real delicate ... barely even there and the fact they made it through the mail is amazing.”
Gadberry — expected to be paroled from prison last month — is serving what’s anticipated to be the last days of a three-year sentence for felony menacing.
According to Mesa County court records, an intoxicated Gadberry assaulted a man over borrowed money, then threatened another person with a handgun. Authorities who made the arrest never found a handgun.
The arrest was among nine brushes with the law dating to 1997. Gadberry has been locked up for most of his adult life.
Barham said her son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 9, which was long after he showed artistic talents despite no formal training.
“Problems really started in kindergarten; he couldn’t be in school so he’d stay home and draw, write about being at war with himself,” Barham said.
She insists his letters suggest he’s changed for the better and he’s expressed interest in pursuing art as a career. Until then, Barham eagerly waits for her daily mail.
“He told me ‘wait until you see what I having coming,’ ” she said.