JIM STEPHENSON, MASTER ARTIST
Jim Stephenson has always enjoyed art. He began his career at a very young age; confined to the hospital for several months at the age of five with a bout of polio, he discovered a love of illustration when he began drawing football players. This began his love of sports and art. In high school, he was fortunate to have Darwin Musselman as an art teacher. Musselman’s prominence in the art world in California in the mid-20th century came primarily through his abstract paintings and resulted in helping to define the "California Style."
In college, Jim wanted to go into sports illustration, but in the early 50’s, the art movement was “throwing paint on canvas” a style unsuited to his representational art, so he switched his major to Physical Education and Science, and continued to paint. When Musselman returned from an extended tour in Europe to study color, Jim was able to continue graduate work in art with him. After graduation from college, Jim began teaching art and coaching football at Selma High School. He taught there for 25 years. During his teaching career, Jim continued to study art with master artists Pat St. John, J. Moran, and Diane Stanley. Jim also took pottery lessons from Hazel Olsen and discovered his second art love: working in clay. He eventually ended up with his own pottery studio which he kept for thirty years until an injury to his wrist made it impossible to work any longer with clay. He sold the shop and returned to painting, although now he uses two hands on the brush to create his works. His favorite subjects are landscapes that he creates “out of his head”. Many times an image simply “comes to him” and he paints it out. A lack of patience made him choose acrylics as a medium over oil or watercolors.
Melvin Harrel was born in 1921 in Ellis County Oklahoma. His family moved to California and settled in Montrose, a small town in the High Sierra Madre Mountains. Melvin was educated in the Glendale School system. He received his ministerial education at Calvary College and entered the ministry at age eighteen. He and his wife Millie spent time in Africa, Europe, and Old Mexico and later in the United States.
Melvin’s interest in art was encouraged by his brother Elbert, who was a student of the English artist, George Blackpoll.
Melvin has studied with local artists Linda McCoy and Sally Sego and he was the only student accepted by Oklahoma artist Augusta G. Metcalfe, known as the Sage Brush Artist, who became an oil painter of pioneer life, horses and animals of rural Oklahoma. She exhibited her work as early as 1911, and won prizes at state fairs in Oklahoma and Texas, and she exhibited at the Grand Central Galleries in New York City, the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City and the Philbrook Art Center in Oklahoma City. In July 1950, Life magazine had a feature article on her with color reproductions. In 1968, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
Since his retirement in 2000, Melvin has shared his knowledge, teaching both youth and adult classes at Colony Covenant church in Kingsburg and at the Senior Center in Reedley.
The Kingsburg Art Center was created to promote interest and develop an appreciation of the arts throughout the local community. We have established a permanent fine arts center for the use of art patrons, amateur and professional artists, educators and students. We strive to foster activities providing opportunities to study the arts in all its different forms.