About the Exhibit
The art works on display at the Elzay Gallery of Art hang in honor to James H. DeVore, a professor of art at Ohio Northern University from 1967–1997. The exhibit, Benefit Sale: Featuring the Paintings of James H. DeVore, is on display December 6–20, 2013 and features over 40 oil and watercolor paintings, each available for purchase. The proceeds of this show establish the James H. DeVore Painting Award to be granted during the Juried Student Exhibition for a painting of exceptional quality by a studio art, graphic design, advertising design, or art education major.
As a young child, Prof. DeVore decided in the first grade that he might be an artist when his teacher praised his Thanksgiving pilgrim drawing. Through his school years, he had some private drawing instruction and worked and studied on his own. Recalling those early days, he said, “I thought that one day I might work for Walt Disney since I could render Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck very realistically.”
More serious studies were undertaken at Ohio University where he received Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees and then embarked upon a 37-year career in art education in the Ohio public school system, at Bloomsburg (Pa.) University and at Ohio Northern University where he retired as professor of art emeritus.
Retirement allowed Prof. DeVore to paint full-time using both watercolor and oil media. His most recent interest was in plein air (outdoor) painting that required the artist to work in all kinds of weather conditions. Speaking of his work, Prof. DeVore said, “I have a great feeling for nature and prefer landscape as a subject to painting figures or still life. I have always been attracted to atmosphere in landscape and especially to the lower key values in colors—old buildings, rain, reflections on wet pavements and winter scenes seem especially suited to the watercolor medium.
“I do not, however, feel confined to visual reality. I seem to have a romantic mind with the eye of a realist. This means that I will add or subtract details in a landscape for the sake of trying to evoke an emotion. I am very aware and affected by my environment and always have been. Most of my work is the result of influences upon my life from places I have lived and remembered.” Born on October 22, 1936, to Harry and Margaret DeVore of Cambridge, Ohio, Prof. DeVore passed away on February 18, 2012. But the impact he left on his former students and colleagues is evident at this exhibition.
“When I paint in watercolor, I still hear things he said echoing in my brain, especially about color,” says Laura Barnhardt Corle (BFA ’77) who was one of the first group of students to receive the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree offered at ONU. “I still paint on d’Arches watercolor paper because that is what he recommended. He may have been quiet and soft-spoken, but his voice and knowledge had a strong influence on many of us.”
“Sometimes, if we are so fortunate, a person enters into our life and unknowingly leaves an indelible mark upon us that forever alters our outlook on something, and unintentionally reshapes and enhances our self-perception,” explains Karen (Sargent) Henry (BFA ’79), who recently retired from Hallmark as an illustrator. “Prof. DeVore was one of those people.
“When still living in Ohio, I would occasionally drive up to Michigan to visit my folks. Every once in a while I’d make a pit stop off I-75 to spend a little time at Ohio Northern. On one such trip, I had the opportunity to chat with Prof. DeVore about painting. He spoke of how he found that color continued to challenge him as a painter. I thought, how could such an accomplished and celebrated artist still have questions or doubts about his talent?
“I carried with me this impression of him and our conversation throughout my years as an illustrator because that discussion with Prof. DeVore spoke of the importance for one to always push and continue to grow as an artist. What then felt like a casual exchange of thoughts on something Mr. DeVore perceived as a pesky impediment to an artist proved to be the enduring influence of a great instructor. That conversation between he and I continues to serve me well all of these years later.”
image: “The Superfluous Color”