The West Nebraska Arts Center, with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, will present “500 days” by solo artist Jean Welborn a native of Atkinson, Neb.
The public is invited to the opening reception of “500 Days,” Thursday, May 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. with refreshments at the West Nebraska Arts Center in Scottsbluff.
“500 Days” is an exhibit Welborn was inspired to do after her grandfather Raymond Dobias, a farmer passed away in 2014.
“I wanted to paint him a picture to honor him and instead of painting pictures of good ol’ boys. I took it a step further and put the portraits in nature and let them age over 500 days,” Welborn said. “I let the land and culture like it affects a person’s face. I wanted it to affect the paintings.”
Welborn grew up in Atkinson before moving to Omaha with her husband. When her grandfather passed away, she returned for the funeral.
She noticed the stark differences between the city and the country life her grandfather had lived. It made her realize the noise, social media, and noises of the city were not something her grandfather had to deal with in his every day.
“It really bugged me, and I wanted to highlight the simple life, but when you dive into the simple life. You realize how complex it is,” Welborn said.
Welborn decided on 12 portraits, including one of her grandfather. She also chose to do four each on metal, glass, and canvas to see how each would age in the outdoor elements.
After completing the portraits, Welborn placed them outdoors at her uncle’s ranch near Atkinson, where she often visited to chronicle the progress of the paintings.
The glass portraits took the elements the hardest. The paint bubbled and chipped after 300 days. The canvas ones didn’t have much damage, but before Welborn took them down after 500 days, they had begun to rot at the bottom.
Welborn noted, the weather changed the paintings, much like it does with farmers and ranchers.
“We’re all affected by this life. Differently, some get dealt a harder hand than others, and some make it through life pretty unscathed,” she said. “Look into the face of an old farmer. You can see their whole life story written on their face, wrinkles, and concern in the furrow of their brow, or laugh lines, it really tells the whole story. It’s so fascinating to have my paintings mirror that effect.”
The opening reception of is Thursday, May 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. with refreshments at the West Nebraska Arts Center in Scottsbluff.
The “500 Days” gallery show will be on display in the Main Gallery at the WNAC through June 23.