CAC's 'Collaboration' blends nature's gifts, canvas

September 29, 2012 6:12:36 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


The natural world and the painted canvas meet when Ralph Null and Debbie Jenkins, both of Columbus, are featured artists in "Collaboration," the Columbus Arts Council's October gallery exhibit in the Rosenzweig Arts Center. 


The public is invited to an opening reception Thursday, Oct. 4, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the arts center at 501 Main St. 




The bounty outside 


Null, who retired as professor emeritus from Mississippi State University's Department of Horticulture in 1992, is an internationally-recognized floral designer, judge and lecturer. He was the recipient of the American Institute of Floral Designers' Award of Design Influence in 2007, only the third living American to receive the honor. 


He has long enjoyed using natural components found in woodlands, in gardens and on roadsides in much of his work. 


"As this has been my forte in floral design, it has been an interesting path that has continued in my painting applications and sculpture," he said. 


It was Null's treatment and subsequent recovery from cancer in 1999 that led the floral designer to the easel. 


"My friend, Walter McKay, asked the late Judy Hanson to do a few classes of oil painting at her studio; he thought that would be a good activity for me," he shared. 


It was; he was soon "hooked" on the stress-relieving. 


Null has titled his collection of pieces for the October exhibit "Organic Evolution"  


"It's the culmination of the many influences that have shaped my creative style," he explained, recalling his rural upbringing surrounded by woods, pastures and meadows. 




Gallery talk 


On Saturday, Oct. 6, Null presents a gallery talk from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Rosenzweig Arts Center, free to the public. He'll show how natural materials can translate into artistic expression. A half-hour Q&A follows the one-hour talk. All guests are welcome. 




Eclectic oils 


Even as a little girl, Debbie Jenkins was sketching, placing things in spaces, designing with a visual soul. In 1988, she picked up a paint brush and has been busy since. 


Her near 40 canvases in the show, mostly oils, include landscapes, still life, florals, waterscapes and abstracts.  


Jenkins' largest piece in the show, an approximate 5-foot-by-8-foot Jackson Pollack-inspired canvas, "was the most fun thing I've ever done," said the Mississippi University for Women alumna and Texas native. "The brush never touches the canvas; it was very freeing." 


In a quest to challenge herself, she explores different styles, always open to new ways to express in paint. 


"The feeling I get from my art is deeply emotional," Jenkins said. "Sometimes the feelings of the moment are too big to put into words, so I put them on canvas ... " 


For more information about the collaborative exhibit, contact the CAC, 662-328-2787 (ARTS).

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.