Festival artist has same fate, different path

Published 7:04 pm Friday, April 9, 2010

After receiving his MD from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and earning a residency internship at the Mayo Clinic, Don Stewart was poised to become a surgeon.

But the scalpel just didn’t cut it for Stewart.

No, Stewart felt his greatest joy clutching a ball-point-pen instead. It was an art class he took for fun in college that had started it all.

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“They ruined it for me,” Stewart said. “I got an assignment to make a big picture out of little pictures.” Stewart was instantly drawn to it. Excuse the pun.

Stewart would be unlikely to apologize for the use of a pun, as could be ascertained from an examination of one of his composite drawings. In fact, one might think of him as a pun pundit.

An image of a Volkswagen Bug composed of insects is one of his more straightforward designs but Stewart’s creations do get more abstract.

He drew a Golf Bag out of numerous images like a badminton birdie and playing cards, all clubs of course.

All his images, from the strikingly simple to the compellingly complicated, are designed to invoke a laugh.

“I’m a wanna-be writer and comic,” Stewart said. Although he is a published and accomplished writer, Stewart said the best way for him to realize his aspirations as a comic is through his designs.

“By and large this is stand up comedy for me, I try to tell a joke with every picture.”

Stewart delivers those ball-point-punch lines with impressive accuracy too.

“My wife says that I have a masters degree in every one of my pictures,” he said. One of the most time consuming parts of his job is the research behind each piece. A good look at one of his drawings by somebody who knows about the content within, attests to his extensive research of that subject, like the fishing for information that he had to do to create a bass out of tackle box gear.

Stewart’s comedy tour will soon be leaving his studio in Homewood, Alabama and heading to Troy where it will stand up on display at TroyFest on April 24-25.

“Don’s artwork is intelligent and clever,” said Stephanie Baker, TroyFest Artist Committee Chair. “You really have to get up close and take some time looking at his intricate drawings and tongue-in-cheek references to appreciate what he really is all about.”

And people will have that opportunity at TroyFest 2010.

“I expect his booth to be a very popular one at TroyFest with people walking away with smiles on their faces,” Baker said.

That’s just the reaction Stewart hopes to invoke at TroyFest.

“It’s not lost in me, that these pictures make people smile,” he said.

Stewart said that ever since he knew he wanted to be a doctor when he was five-years-old, he’s had a desire to help people. And he doesn’t regret his decision to leave medicine.

“I feel like I’ve helped a whole lot more people making these pictures than I ever would have with a scalpel,” he said.