Leader Blues

Monday, February 19, 2007

TOP STORY >> Unveiling art at Jacksonville Chamber

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce opened the doors to its new art gallery during an unveiling of 85 Richard DeSpain prints Thursday. The pen-and-ink prints of military life and scenes from Camp Pike now adorn the meeting room walls at the chamber building. “This is a happy occasion for the chamber. We are blessed that Mr. DeSpain has allowed us to display his work,” Pat Bond, chairman of the board of directors, said. “I’m just delighted to have them here for us and the community to enjoy,” she said. “I hope people enjoy looking at them and come back often to do so.”

Although the framed prints on the wall are not available for purchase, copies of each print are; the chamber has a complete listing of DeSpain’s works and prices for those interested in owning one. “We have so many meetings here, at least 50 people in and out daily, hopefully they will want to look at the prints while they are here,” Bonita Rownd, chamber chief executive officer, said.

Rownd said the display would be at the chamber as long as Jacksonville is on the map. “Possibly when he is a world- renowned artist, this collection will be famous,” Rownd said. Rownd explained that DeSpain’s work came to be at the chamber in a matter of days.

“We were having a conversation and one thing led to another, I asked about his prints and told him he needed a gallery,” Rownd said. “And we’ve got this big room with all this space. Two days later he came in with all these prints,” she said.
Rownd then called J. Hudson Galleries, 512 N. 1st Street, to frame the prints.

“He framed them in record time and did an unbelievably good job,” Rownd said. “They all look gorgeous and are very tasteful,” she said. Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander of the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, and Col. Scott Lockard, commander of the 314th Mission Support Group, were in attendance for the unveiling and spent time looking at the pen and ink drawings of scenes from the base. “He gives an accurate portrayal of Little Rock Air Force Base,” Self said.
Self and DeSpain spent a few minutes looking at pieces together while DeSpain briefed the general on how certain works came about and pointed out the intricate details he captured that only those familiar with C-130 aircraft and military life would recognize.

Col. Lockard said his favorite print in the chamber’s new gallery is an aerial view of the base. “I love the aerial shot with the C-135s on the flight line and I also like the print with all the paratroopers,” Lockard said. “They are all beautiful prints, some of these I’ve never seen before,” Lockard said. Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim said he owns DeSpain’s LRAFB 50th anniversary print, a few prints of C-130s and one of the Old Mill.

“They are excellent; he is very knowledgeable in this area,” Swaim said. “The variety and amount available all compliment the base,” he added. DeSpain said he hopes to do some pieces on the C-130J model in the future. “I have a cockpit series in the works with the help of Gen. Self,” he said. DeSpain said he usually spends about three months on each piece. After taking pictures of the best angle for his new piece, a rough sketch is developed from the details in the photos.

He then enlarges the rough pen sketch to an average size of 24 inches by 36 inches on vellum paper and temporarily mounts it on illustration board. The next step is to turn the rough sketch into a pen and ink drawing, which takes on average 24 days to two months of drawing in. If the pen-and-ink drawing is developed into a watercolor version, an additional two to three weeks is needed for completion.

After the colors are added, he puts another layer of pen-and-ink over the watercolor version, making three layers of artwork on one piece. Aside from the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, DeSpain’s work can also be purchased through his Website, www.despainprints.com, or at Deck the Walls in North Little Rock, now located at 4621 E. McCain Blvd. in the shopping center across from Wal-Mart Supercenter.