Johnson Center exhibit a fitting tribute

Published 11:05 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An exhibit opening this week at the Johnson Center celebrates the life and talent of one of our community’s most beloved art collectors and artists.

“The Eclectic World of Doug Hawkins” features art that ranges in style from Picasso to Dali, Chagall to Jimmie Lee Sudduth; Woodie Long to Dougie. And what a true tribute that is.

The late Dr. Doug Hawkins was a force to be reckoned with. A veterinarian for more than 50 years here in Troy, he was a catalyst for the growth of Troy University, serving on its board of directors for more than 30 years, and a fierce advocate for the development of the arts culture in Pike County. He was an avid collector of art – his love of folk art was evident in the dozens of pieces on display at his office – and his appreciate of talent wasn’t limited by style or definition. In fact, the exhibit showcase that expansive collection with paintings from Hawkins’ “masters’ collection, his folk art collection and his own work, which he began creating shortly before passing away in 2015.

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It is as eclectic as Hawkins himself, which is a fitting tribute.

Perhaps even more a tribute is the exhibit’s role in honoring the importance Hawkins played in our community for more than half a century. He was, as one person said, an “influencer.” And his influence is evident in so many different places – he helped organize the Greek system at Troy University and helped bring the international program to campus; he was a deacon at First Baptist Church; he was a former president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, served as a Rotarian for more than 50 years, and helped charter the Troy Jaycees. He was instrumental in efforts to convert an abandoned Post Office into the Johnson Center for the Arts and played a key role in sustaining and growing the arts throughout the community.

He was both eclectic and influential. And through this exhibit, he continues to remind us of the beauty in art – grand or simple – and the beauty of a life well lived.