ART TALK: Leach, Everett share inspiration behind exhibits

Published 3:00 am Saturday, September 14, 2019

Those who gathered for the artists’ reception for Russell Everett and Beverly West Leach Thursday night at the Johnson Center for the Arts enjoyed a night amazing art, interesting art talks and the JCA docents’ great snack table to which Everett contributed barbecue and a link of sausage.

Bill Hopper, JCA board chairman, said the arts center in honored to have highly acclaimed local artist exhibit at the JCA.

“The honor is ours,” Hopper said. “Russell and Beverly are outstanding artists and, as instructors at Troy University, they are positively influencing the arts through their students.”

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Those who attended the artists’ reception viewed Leach’s “Flights of Fancy” exhibition in the upper gallery and Everett’s “Something Fishy” in the lower gallery and visited personally with the artists.

Wiley White, JCA exhibition coordinator, said the piano music of Patrick Jackson, as always, set the mood perfectly for the viewing of the artwork. Among those in attendance included members of the Wiregrass Museum of Art in Dothan and students of both Leach and Everett.

“And, as always, the Troy community was there to show its support for the artists and in appreciation for their work,” White said.

The art talks were held in the lower level and were very entertaining and informative.

“To hear Russell Everett and Beverly Leach is always a real treat. They are so different in their presentations and everyone enjoyed them immensely,” White said.

Everett, in somewhat “Old Man in the Sea” fashion, talked about the beginning of his interest in art.

“I lived with my grandmother and her yard was sand,” he said. “I could draw in the sand and that interested me.”
Everett talked about the influence of Robert Mitchum and Richard Burton. He talked about Moby Dick and drawing Iwo Jima with crayons. He told about kicking rocks and the trauma of shooting a deer and watching it die.
“I will never kill a deer as long as there is Winn-Dixie,” he said.

Everett told about hammer-head sharks and how their favorite food is a stingray and about flamingoes that fly in such large numbers they blackened the sky. He told of sailors who thought manatees were mermaids.

“I think the sailors had been on the water too long,” Everett said.

Who could follow that, White said, “except Beverly Leach.”

Leach told the arts patrons that both her grandfathers were coal miners.

“I came from a blue-collar background and from people with a strong work ethic,” she said. “I always loved to draw but I never thought I would be a graphic designer in advertising but I was.”

Leach, laughingly, said she was only 10-years-old during Woodstock. She missed out on that big thing so her art was not influenced by the hippy movement. However, most everything else in her life is manifested in her work.

Leach is an educator, a beekeeper, a traveler, a keeper of things big and small, important and not so important.

She said her art is made up of things that she has spent her life around — music boxes, knickknacks and of things that have influenced her life – the social commentaries, “Gone with the Wind” and such.

“They are part of my art, whether they are layers of meaning or just look pretty,” she said.

The artists’ work will be on exhibit at the JCA into October. The Johnson Center for the Arts is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and until 3 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free.