Akin, Pamela Originally from Michigan, Pamela Akin grew up in California. She married and moved to Georgia then Gadsden with her husband, who worked for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. She was active in the formation of the “New Age Art Alliance,” which promoted Contemporary Art. Others founders of the group were husband and wife, Doug and Sherrie Hamil, and artist Carolyn Raines Wood. Pamela was an active artist and had a one-person show at Campbell Arts Studio on Rainbow Drive.
Ashley, James “Jim” Jim Ashley was one of the early members of the Gadsden Arts Association. He served as President of the GAA for two terms, from 1979-1980 and 1980-81. Jim was a painter and, among other things, worked on a mural that used to hang at Elliott Community Center.
Barclay, Fred Fred Barclay is a Gadsden artist who creates colorful folk art. His work was highlighted in the GMA exhibit, “Alabama’s African-American Artists,” in February, 2010, celebrating Black History Month. Southern Living Magazine recognized him in 2003 in an article entitled, “Discover the South’s Finest Folk Art,” in which they encouraged people to see his work at the Kentuck Festival of the Arts in Northport, AL. Barclay studied at Gadsden State Community College and works at AEP Industries.
Callan, Nan Nan Elizabeth Callan went to New York City as a young woman in the 1920s and landed a job working for McCall’s magazine. In the 1930s she came home to be near her family and said of Gadsden, “The town needed zip ... and I decided I’d get some things going.” A talented artist, she had always found excitement in galleries, music, and theater. Gadsden’s first community theater company grew out of her zeal. She talked the Kyle family across the street into letting her turn their former coach house into a little theater. She charmed merchants into supplying building materials and got everyone she knew to pitch in. The little theater and Kyle home itself took up the block where the Etowah County Courthouse is today. That project was the forerunner of the Gadsden Civic Theatre and the Theatre of Gadsden. Nan organized the Gadsden Concert Association and brought world-famous performers to town—including Beverly Sills, Roberta Peters, and the Vienna Boys Choir. Nan opened the first art gallery in Gadsden and encouraged talented young people to think about exploring the larger world of the arts. Step by step, Nan developed an arts scene here.
During World War II she held exhibitions and shows for soldiers, started a lending library, and threw parties for men in uniform. (Her sisters, Helen and Ruth, were also big parts of the cultural scene in Gadsden.) Nan got the organization, BIG MEN, started for the purpose of having them raise money for shows and dances. (Former Gadsden Times publisher, Frank Helderman Jr., was the first president.) Nan received many awards, including the Governor’s Award from the State Arts Council. Callan Auditorium at Convention Hall was named in her honor, and Nan’s portrait by Steve Temple hangs there.
“In 1980,” said Bobby Welch, executive director of the Center for Cultural Arts, “Gadsden was listed among the 10 worst places to live. Nan wanted to change things. She drew up plans to have an arts center created in the old Eleventh Street School. When that wasn’t feasible, she began organizing support for an arts center to be located downtown. “Actually, she accomplished both things. She ended up saving the old school, which is now the Gadsden Board of Education building, and kept making requests of the mayor for an arts center. Without her, the Center for Cultural Arts would not exist, and Gadsden would never have been chosen as one of America’s Most Livable Cities a decade later.” Nan was 97 years old when she died on May 7, 2003. The old Callan house, across the street from the Etowah County Courthouse, stands to this day.
Campbell, Elaine Elaine Campbell has been either President or Treasurer of the Gadsden Art Association since 2007. She began her pursuit of art when her youngest child completed high school, taking classes in drawing, ceramics, and painting, with her early instructors being Margaret Hand, John Sandridge, and Mac Norton at Gadsden State Community College. She then took classes at UAB in painting, 3-dimensional design, and sculpture. She opened a studio on South 4th street, behind the fire station, along with painters John Sandridge, June Seckle, Barbara White, and Yvonne Nesbitt. She taught art classes there, then later moved her studio to Rainbow Drive, along with June Seckle and Pam Akin. She closed her studio when her husband being very ill and, after his death in 2000, decided to become a docent at the Birmingham Museum of Art for three days a week from 2002-03.
In 2004, she visited the Gadsden Museum of Art and noticed that Steve Temple could use some organizational help, so she offered to be his “Girl Friday,” and he told her to write her own job description, which she did. He advanced her to “Exhibits Coordinator” with the plan of her working 30 hours a week, but she always worked more. When she started at the museum, it only had one floor; but during her time working with Steve, he raised the money to complete the museum, which now has three totally renovated floors of exhibition space. Elaine credits Ms. Annie Fowler, who bought the building and paid for much of the renovation through a Sotheby’s sale of one of her rings, for the museum’s ability to complete the renovations. The work was done for free by employees of the City of Gadsden, another important aspect that made the project possible. Ms. Fowler also left her art collection to the museum. Elaine Campbell has been a steadfast supporter of the Gadsden Museum of Art for 14 years and continues to contribute her time and effort to its success.
Day, George George Day was a very good artist who worked in oil. His paintings were colorful, and one of his paintings of apples is part of the Gadsden Museum of Art Permanent Collection.
Gillam, Peggy Peggy Gillam (1931-2015) was a painter and art teacher, who frequently did portrait commissions and opened the Greenhouse Gallery in Gadsden in 1971. Her first one-person show was in Jasper, AL, in February of 1976, at the Chamber of Commerce Building. She was very active in the early years of the Gadsden Art Association, serving as President of the GAA 1967-68 and 1974-75, and contributing her time and effort in various positions for many years. She helped secure tax-exempt status for the Gadsden Museum of Art and helped with publicity for “Art on the Rocks,” which was a fundraiser for the Gadsden Museum of Art. In a letter she wrote to her brother on May 12, 1981, she stated: “The present Board of Directors moved the physical properties of the Museum to Alabama City about 4 or 5 months ago. I really had misgivings about the move due to the out of the way from downtown traffic pattern, however, the building is wonderful and the lights very good and we do get some traffic from the recreation seekers and Senior Citizens meetings.” She also served as a member of the State Board of the Arts and Humanities.
Hagedorn, Ruth Ruth Hagedorn (1906-1989) was the daughter of a famous surgeon in Philadelphia and the wife of Merlin Hagedorn, owner of the clothing store, “Hagedorn’s,” which was located on Broad Street in downtown Gadsden. She was the Society Columnist at The Gadsden Times and lived on “the mountain,” near Noccalula Falls. Several painters who lived in this area formed a group called the “Attic Artists” and collaborated on the formation of “Art on the Rocks,” which was a fundraiser for the Gadsden Museum of Art.
Hand, Margaret Margaret Hand was a resident of Gadsden most of her life, and she and her husband, Edsel, were active in Gadsden’s cultural scene for many years. A graduate of Woodlawn High School, Gulfstates School of Art, and Samford University, she became a public school teacher, but was best known for painting and teaching art classes at her studio, “Hand’s Studio of Art,” on Broad Street. She was a member of the Museum of Famous Women Artists of Washington, D.C., a lifetime member of Filson Club of Louisville, Ky., and a member of Who’s Who of America Business and Professional Women. She had the distinction of being the official artist for all two-year colleges in Alabama and an artist for Samford University, Duke University, and Jacksonville State University, painting portraits of college and university presidents. She is also known for painting landscapes in the Primitive Art style. Margaret Hand passed away in August, 2005.
Harwood, Kelly Kelly Harwood was a resident of Hokes Bluff, AL, and painted large works with acrylics. He created Contemporary paintings that were very stylized. He was not only a painter, but also owned an art gallery in Franklin, TN. A few of his paintings are in the archives at the Gadsden Museum of Art.
Hill, Collie Collie Hill was one of the original members of the Gadsden Art Association and served as President of the GAA for three terms, from 1962-1965. He was an active artist, and several of his works are in the archives of the Gadsden Museum of Art.
King, John Argyle John Argyle King taught art classes at the University of Alabama Gadsden Center and was the first President of the Gadsden Art Association, serving three terms from 1958-1961. The GAA was the first group to present art shows in Gadsden, with the art being hung on a clothesline or placed on separate easels for presentation. In 1963, Gadsden mayor Leslie Gilliland offered the GAA space in the basement of Gadsden's City Hall, and the GAA, led by John Argyle King and patrons Lewis and Annie Fowler, established a board that began soliciting local officials and citizens for financial support to create museum space. Having acquired funding, the GAA crafted bylaws for the Gadsden Museum of Art, with Annie Fowler serving as the museum’s first president. The Gadsden Museum of Art’s inaugural exhibit opened in January 1965.
Martin, Jesse and family Jesse Martin, Jr., was a painter and President of the Gadsden Art Association for two terms from 1971-73. He and his wife, Jane, owned “Frame World,” which was a frame shop on Chestnut Street, and their children, Marion and Mitch, helped them in the day-to-day operation of the store. Mitch Martin (1962-2007) was a painter and crafter, who served as President of the Gadsden Art Association from 1992-93. He was a Board Member of the Gadsden Museum of Art, and with his sister, Marion, also a crafter, started a craft show called, “Christmas on the Coosa,” which was a fundraiser for the GMA. When Mitch passed away at the age of 45, his “artsy” friends had a Mardi Gras party in Gadsden to celebrate his life, since he loved to attend that event in New Orleans.
McDaniel, Pat Joyce Patricia “Pat” McDaniel (deceased 2010) was President of the Gadsden Art Association from 1975-1976. She was also a volunteer at the Gadsden Museum of Art, a member of the Visual Art Society at Jacksonville State University, and a member of the Alabama Watercolor Society and Mountain Valley Arts Council. After raising her children, she opened her business, “The Country Shop,” in 1980, which was located in East Gadsden. This included an art gallery studio and retail business for art supplies. For many years, she taught art to both children and adults, and she expanded her own art career by entering shows in various places, such as Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi. She designed Christmas ornaments to hang in the White House during the Clinton years and operated a mail-order business for 10 to 12 years of her own designs, sending catalogs and merchandise all over the world.
Owens-Burns, Habiba Habiba Owens-Burns was born in Detroit, MI, and was interested in art at a very early age; but it took her more than 30 years to find her niche in collage. Her pieces have been exhibited locally, nationally, internationally, and on syndicated television shows. She resides in Altoona, AL, and earned an honorable mention for her watercolor, “The Face of a Clown,” in the 2012 Gadsden Art Association’s 54th annual Juried Art Show. Along with artists Edward Jennings, Tony Reddick, Fred Barclay, and John Sandridge, her work was featured in the GMA exhibit, “Alabama’s African-American Artists,” in February, 2010, celebrating Black History Month.
Reaves, Sara Sara Reaves (1921-2011) was one of the founders of the Gadsden Art Association and served as President of the GAA for three consecutive terms from 1981-84 and two more consecutive terms from 1989-90. She also served on many other GAA committees and was a Board Member of the Gadsden Museum of Art, as well as being a member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. An active artist, she worked in watercolors with her main subject being Southern scenery. She loved to travel and went to both Russia and China with the American Artists to paint scenes along the way in both countries.
Reddick, Tony Tony Reddick is a self-taught artist, except for a few art-related courses he took to fill out his schedule while attending Talladega College. He began painting in 1991, with his work covering a variety of subjects and themes, including sports, religion, entertainment, and family. He painted a mural of logos of the five branches of the U.S. armed forces for Etowah Middle School, along with a new school crest. He previously did logos of the state’s colleges and universities for the school. He also has done commission work for a number of athletes, including Antonio Langham, Steve Wallace, Chris Goode, Carnell Williams, and Carlos Rogers. For his religious paintings, Reddick has used photographs of members of his church, First Baptist Church of Alabama City, as models to illustrate various Biblical scenes, including Daniel in the lions’ den and a scene of Jesus entitled, “The First Stone,” referring to the woman caught in adultery. Both of those paintings were displayed in a collection of 19 of Reddick’s works called, “New Works on Acrylic,” at the Hardin Center in 2012. Reddick is a 30-year veteran of the Gadsden City School System and is currently the Director of Student Services. Whenever he features a child in a painting and sells prints, half of the proceeds go to a college scholarship fund for that child. Reddick calls his painting an “avocation,” or hobby, with his vocation being an educator in the Gadsden City School System for 30 years.
Reynolds, Craig Craig Reynolds is a highly-acclaimed professional artist and the son of the well-known watercolorist, Leo Reynolds. Craig majored in art at Gadsden State Community College, studying under Mac Norton, then continued by studying under Donny Finley, Dmitry Proshkin, Roger Dale Brown, Greg Larock, and Jason Saunders. He became very active in his art business in 1984, while still working for the steel industry. In 2006, he opened “Craig Reynolds Studio and Gallery” and became a full-time professional. In his artist statement, he says: “I’ve always been drawn to the old weathered home place struggling to live on despite the rusted nails that hold it. The old leaning barns, porches with chipped paint, patina on a well-used farm tool, dilapidated harbors, and old barnacle-laden boats; all tell a story of hard work handed down by generations of the past. Every scar-filled scene calls out to me. The way the light and color play off these scenes inspires me.” He began painting in watercolors, then moved in oil painting, becoming especially adept at plein air work (painting outdoors). In addition, he learned to do wall paintings, murals, and frescoes. He has been a top-seller at many plein air competitions and is a sought-after teacher and judge for plein air activities throughout the United States. In 2017, his work was accepted into the prestigious American Impressionist Society’s “Annual Small Works Showcase.” For many years, he resided in Gadsden, but now makes his home in Gulf Shores, AL.
Reynolds, Leo Leo Reynolds was a successful watercolorist in the 1960s and 1970s and was a Board Member of the Gadsden Museum of Art. He taught his son, Craig, to draw and paint, and in the 1984 Gadsden Art Association’s “Art on the Rocks” show, Leo placed first and Craig placed second. Leo was widely known for his watercolors of local settings, such as landscapes that included old barns, or watercolors of well-known buildings in Gadsden. Due to his outstanding reputation as an artist, the “Leo Reynolds Gallery” at the Gadsden Museum of Art was named in his honor. His widow, Ruth Reynolds, who had served as President of the “Friends of the Museum” at the Gadsden Museum of Art, supported the 2011 “Southeastern Plein Air Invitational” at the GMA by donating cash prizes for the Quick Draw event.
Rickles, Jimmy Gadsden native, Jimmy Rickles, who produced art for over fifty years, had a one-person exhibit at the Gadsden Museum of Art in 1999. On view were drawings, oil paintings, acrylic paintings, watercolors, and prints showing the diversity of his art. Among his subjects were outdoor scenes, portraits, and abstracts. As a teenager in the 1930's, he had already discovered his life's passions: painting and the ministry. Rickles left Gadsden in 1938 to study the ministry at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. After attending school and working as an illustrator for the college's yearbook and for Pathway Press, a major book publisher located in Cleveland, he and his wife, Lucille, departed for the Southwestern United States to work as missionaries for the Church of God. While serving as Church of God State Youth Director of New Mexico in 1940 and 1943, Rickles was continuously in the art communities of the Southwest. Along the way, he produced large illustrations for outdoor advertising agencies. He also created expansive paintings on walls and ceilings in many churches across the country. In the early 1960's, after returning to Gadsden, he worked as an artist for Andrews Signs and the City of Gadsden. Among his projects was the job of painting murals in the Gadsden Library. He continued to study art at both Gadsden State Community College and Jacksonville State University. As one of the first members of the Noccalula Art League and Gadsden Art Association, Rickles helped found “Art on the Rocks,” a successful art festival at Noccalula Falls Park.
Sandridge, John John Sandridge grew up in Gadsden and started drawing at the age of 4. At 15, he submitted cartoons to the Montgomery-based publication, Alabama Weekly, which paid him $5 for each cartoon that was accepted. Soon after, he was approached by a person in the billboard industry. Sandridge remembers feeling unprepared, but willing to work: “I could draw, and I had done one painting. We were poor, so I made a canvas out of a bed sheet and stretched it on a frame. I might not have been a painter, but I needed the job.” His billboards, painted by hand, caught the attention of the Coca-Cola Company; and he not only painted billboards for Coke, but eventually got permission to use Coke bottles in his paintings, becoming the first black American to be licensed by Coca-Cola International. His images—mostly period pieces of black Americans enjoying the beverage— were imprinted on serving trays and other memorabilia and distributed across the nation. The branding was so popular, the first original painting he sold from the series went for $30,000. His contract with Coke ran from 1990-1996, and in 1996 he was commissioned by the Olympic Soccer Committee to create a sculpture for the Atlanta Games. Since then, he’s become a published author, telling his family’s story in the work Red Book and Cotton. In 2010, he launched into a style of art he deemed “Numinousneoism,” which he said draws from his African heritage and attempts to teach understanding: “I was born to do art. It’s my religion, my life. And the message that races can live in peace without trying to change each other, but trying to understand each other, is what I want to inspire, especially in children.” He said his nonprofit, “The No. 2 Pencil Foundation”—named in honor of his mother, who always kept a sharpened No. 2 pencil available to him as a child—seeks to “inspire children and teens to develop their imaginations.” For a time he had his own studio in downtown Gadsden, but now he lives in Chelsea, AL. In 2014, about 150 pieces of his work were displayed at the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham.
Schuette, Kay Kay Schuette (1923-2009) was an active artist who served as President of the Gadsden Art Association from 1984-85. At one time, she owned and operated a store in Cullman, AL, called the “Patio Place.” She was married to Arthur Schuette, and after his death, married again and became Kay Schuette Jeter.
Smith, Harold Harold Smith served as President of the Gadsden Art Association from 1970-71 and was one of its earliest members. He is known for his scratchboard images of historical sites— with the scratchboard sometimes tinted with oils—as well as for his beautiful woodcarvings, primarily of birds. He passed away in 2017; but he is remembered fondly in Gadsden for his good humor and storytelling abilities.
Smith, MaLou MaLou Smith (1927-2015) was President of the Gadsden Art Association from 1973-74. Originally from Owensboro, Ky., MaLou raised her family in Gadsden and served as Art Specialist for the Gadsden City Board of Education in the 1960s, as well as helping found the Gadsden Museum of Art, which had its inaugural exhibit in 1965. MaLou and her husband, James, were owners of Bay Springs Campground in Centre, AL, for 12 years.
Temple, Steve Steve Temple (1945-2014) was the first Director of the Gadsden Museum of Art and had been a member of the Gadsden Art Association while in high school. He studied art at the University of Tennessee and in New England before becoming a successful professional artist in Seattle, WA, then Texas. He moved back to Gadsden in 2003 and oversaw the relocation of the Gadsden Art Museum from Elliott Community Center at 2829 W. Meighan Blvd. to the current Gadsden Museum of Art address at 515 Broad Street in downtown Gadsden. As an artist, he was best known for his portrait paintings, although he also painted animals and landscapes, rendered in oil or pastel. Toward the end of his life, he created abstract presentations in acrylics. After 10 years as the GMA director, he was found to have a terminal disease, and the Gadsden Museum of Art presented the exhibit “Steve Temple — A Retrospective,” during the months of January and February, 2014, in his honor. It covered his career as a painter, going back to the 1970s, and included about 45 of his works. During his time as Director, the museum expanded and now includes three floors of exhibit and event space. Elaine Campbell, Exhibits Coordinator during Temple’s tenure, said, “He was always a visionary, never satisfied with the status quo. His dreams included making GMA the best little museum in the USA.“
Willingham, Dorothy (Wilda) Dorothy Willingham (deceased 2008) served as President of the Gadsden Art Association for 2 consecutive terms from 1968-70 and for a third term from 1978-79. She was a charter member of the GAA, as well as an art teacher, sculptor, and painter, who worked at various times under the names Dorothy Money (early years), Dorothy Willingham, and Wilda. Her paintings have been displayed at the Gadsden Museum of Art, the Steelworkers Local 2176 Union Hall, and the Community Credit Union, as well as various other locations in the city. Her work was shown along with other prominent artists at the Gadsden Museum of Art's 40th anniversary celebration, and some of her work is currently in the GMA archives. She was a partner in the Greenhouse Gallery on Chestnut Street for about three years, where she taught art and pursued her own artistic interests. Later she taught painting at her home and briefly at First Baptist Church of Gadsden, as well as teaching occasional classes in sculpture. In addition to being President of GAA three times, she also served as Corresponding Secretary for a number of years and served on the Board of the Gadsden Museum of Art as well. She remained active with both organizations until she left Gadsden in 2008 to be closer to her family in Tennessee.
Wood, Carolyn Rains Carolyn Raines Wood (1939-2002) was a member of the Gadsden Art Association and a well-known and beloved local artist, who often painted happy scenes in pastel-colored acrylics. She did some portrait work, but, being an avid gardener, was best known for her floral paintings. When she passed away at the age of 39, following an extended terminal illness, she asked that donations be made to the Gadsden Art Association in lieu of flowers. Her funeral was memorable in that the sanctuary was decorated with many of her paintings, as well as colorful balloons that expressed her exuberance for life.