Artists of ‘note’

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Marcia Rice and Roxy Dunbar touched lives through art

Marcia Rice and Roxy Dunbar touched lives through their art. Rice’s artwork lives through her Troy cityscape that is offered for sale by the Troy Arts Council Auxiliary and Dunbar’s through the students she taught in the schools in Troy.

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Rice and Dunbar are featured artists on the TAC Auxiliary’s note card collection that includes the artwork of six deceased Troy artists. Also featured are Jean Lake, Alice Thornton, Jane Brantley and Sarah Johnson. The note cards will be available for sale at the Troy Arts Council booth at TroyFest this weekend.

Marcia Rice was born in Troy in 1940. She displayed a talent for art early in her life and enjoyed painting her entire life.

After graduating from Troy High School in 1958, she attended Florida State University to study art. She later transferred to the University of Alabama to be near her future husband, Bill Rice, Sr., who was a football player at the Capstone.

Bill Rice, Jr. remembers his mom as a very talented artist who never realized how talented she was.

“Mom just painted because she loved to paint,” Rice said. “She never considered herself a professional or tried to sell her works. Very late in life, she did sell a few works when asked to participate in exhibits hosted by the Troy Arts Council. Most of her artwork is actually on the walls of my house or my brother’s.’”

Rice said that, in his opinion, his mother was “ultra talented” in different media.

“She could do funny cartoons and incredibly detailed pen and inks,” he said. “From time to time, she would do pen and inks of friends’ homes and the families used them as note cards.”

Rice said his mother would go through phases where she did watercolors and then oils.

“She could even do portraits,” he said.

Marcia Rice loved Great Britain. Several of her paintings are scenes of English villages or the countryside, specifically the region of Cotswold.

“She also had a fondness for elephants,” Rice said. “Her oil painting on the note cards the Troy Arts Council Auxiliary will have for sale at TroyFest is called ‘Looming Elephant.’ I think mom painted it after seeing a photo in a National Geographic of a big elephant coming out of the darkness. It’s one of my prized possessions.”

Rice also did the “cityscape” panoramic watercolor of the City of Troy that the Troy Arts Council made into prints and sold.

“I’m very humbled and happy that so many people seem to be recognizing the artistic talents of a lady who really didn’t consider herself a ‘real’ artist but who was,” Rice said. “She certainly was one of the most talented artists to come out of Troy.”

Roxy Dunbar was a talented artist but she is probably best remember as a teacher who instilled the love of art in her students and guided them in the pursuit of putting images on paper.

She was a graduate of Columbia University in New York.

Donal Dunbar said his Aunt Roxy came south from St. Joseph, Mich. to teach art at a school in Andalusia.

“That was around 1917,” Dunbar said. “I think her brother, my dad, was on the Troy school board and was aware that the position for an art and music teacher was open at Troy. Aunt Roxy applied and got the job.”

Roxy Dunbar lived in Troy with her brother, Ed Dunbar, and his wife during the school year and went back to St. Joseph during the summer.

At Troy High School, she taught Jean Lake, Margaret Ann Beverly and Ann Gilchrist, who all became Troy artists of note.

Gilchrist took art from Dunbar for three years and said, not only was Dunbar a wonderful artist, she was also a wonderful person.

“Miss Roxy bubbled with enthusiasm and it was contagious,” Gilchrist said. “She came bouncing, literally bouncing, into the classroom with a big smile on her face and she had those wonderful rosy cheeks. She made art exciting. She taught us so much about color and blending. She loved to paint flowers, especially daisies, which she said had happy faces. Every time I see a daisy, I think of Miss Roxy. Her flowers looked so real that you wanted to reach out and pick them. The influence she had on us made a positive difference in our lives.”

Dunbar’s painting of an iris is featured on the TAC Auxiliary’s note card collection.

Gilchrist said Dunbar came to Troy with a good education and a good background in art.

“That was something that not many people had back then,” she said. “We were fortunate to have her. I studied art in college and have a master’s degree. But so much of what I had in college, I had already learned from Miss Roxy. She was an incredible teacher.”

Gilchrist said she’s not sure how Dunbar’s artwork would be judged by other artists but she thought her to be outstanding.

“And I know that she touched my heart,” Gilchrist said. “She touched a lot of hearts through art.”

TroyFest will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.