Living Color exhibit opens in West Point today


Special to The Dispatch



A new exhibit of artwork by Cathy Simpson Pilkinton of Columbus opens with a free reception today from 2-3 p.m. at the Louise Campbell Center for the Arts, 235 Commerce St., in downtown West Point. Pilkinton will give a gallery talk at 2:30 p.m.  


Living Color aptly describes the bold hues and innovative style Pilkinton uses to interpret flowers and fauna in the garden, small creatures of nature and inspirational objects. An intimate close-up of a rabbit in the grass or bird in its nest showcase Pilkinton's ability to capture the wonder of nature. Floral and still life pieces feature bright, intense colors within a classic composition. 


"I am proud to say that West Point is my hometown," said Pilkinton. A graduate of West Point High School, she continued her education at Mississippi University for Women, and then went on to acquire an educational specialist degree from Mississippi State, with a concentration in reading. Retiring from her 26-year teaching career in 2000, Pilkinton then assisted her husband Charlie in their commercial catfish business and started playing in paint.  


"I've been hooked ever since," she said. 


"My passion is traveling, but I also enjoy gardening and all handcrafts, especially crochet, quilting and cross-stitch. These can be stuffed in a bag and help pass the time when I'm able to get out of town. Sadly, paint doesn't travel as well," Pilkinton said. 


The artist's mother is Jean Sarsgard, who was part of the medical office staff at the Ivey Hospital for many years.  


When asked to comment on her daughter's many interests, Sarsgard said with a grin, "Cathy always has several messes in varying stages of completion." 






Pilkinton has taken classes and workshops conducted by Judy Hanson, now deceased, of Columbus. She has also worked with Ann Foster and Gina Brown in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  


"I especially love the time I spend in West Point painting with Deborah Mansfield, a source of constant energy, talent and encouragement," Pilkinton said.  


When asked about her method or techniques, she said, "I struggle with each painting, trying to get it just right. My goal is to 'loosen up,' relax, and try my hand at impressionism and possibly attempt more abstract projects. I tend to stay within the lines, a habit that needs to be rectified. Until then, I'll just keep making more messes and hopefully complete a few." 


Pilkinton added, "I wish I could say my paintings are incomprehensible and therefore full of deep significance. Actually, the opposite it true. I paint what strikes my fancy at the moment. It might be food, flowers or a common object. The common denominator is color and how the paints blend and fold, ultimately morphing into something that makes me happy."  


Sponsored by the West Point/Clay County Arts Council, the exhibit will hang through Dec 31. The arts center will be staffed on designated Wednesdays from 1-4 p.m. for visitors to view the show. To schedule a tour at another day or time, contact Kathy Dyess at 662-494-5678, or Julie Gray at 662-295-0461.



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