Current Show:

Feathered Friends

August 31 - November 20

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Current Show

The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art on the Fayette campus of Central Methodist University presents "Feathered Friends: Six Decades of Watercolor Painting of Birds by David Plank" along with a Memorial to Brother Mel Meyer, S.M. (1928-2014) Sculpture, Watercolors, Acrylics.  The show runs from August 31 – November 20, with an artist reception for Plank on Sunday, Aug. 31.

There is no charge and all are welcome to the Gallery during its open hours, Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Feathered Friends

David Plank has spent all of six decades plus parts of two others painting birds. In 1973, after three years in the Army and 11 more as a pressman, he became a full-time painter of birds. He has no regrets and shows no signs of slowing.

While Plank's birds are anatomically correct, he softens poses and colors in order to communicate his personal vision of the birds and their surroundings, rather than trying to duplicate nature as an objective illustrator might.

"Many artists," Plank explains, "try to catch the essence of the bird. On the other hand, I try to catch the essence of what I feel about the bird."

He places his birds in backgrounds that complement them and reflect the correct habitat; however, he chooses the colors and arrangements to match what he has felt about that bird.


Most of the birds Plank paints are those that can be found around the rich Ozark hills hugging his home in Salem, Mo. Some birds are migrants who pass through for a brief visit. The only bird, he thinks, in the Ashby-Hodge exposition alien to Plank's native home is the cactus wren, painted when he was in Arizona.

Plank's favorite birds to paint—when forced to choose—are the songbirds. He feels them the most and can interpret them more easily than raptors, for instance, whose demeanor seems to change less.

Plank is known for his numerous paintings for magazines and books, including cover designs. He has also shown his bird paintings around the country.

He has 12 paintings and 30 drawings in Arkansas Birds – Their Distribution and Abundance (by Drs. Douglas James and Joseph Neal, University of Arkansas Press, 1986); and was the sole artist for The Birds of Missouri – Their Distribution and Abundance (by Dr. David Easterla and Mark Robbins, University of Missouri Press, 1992). Full news release on Plank.

Brother Mel Meyer, S.M.

Brother Mel Meyer, S.M., was a man with a mission to share the joy of the sacred with the world. His medium was art. He died last November and The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art on the campus of Central Methodist University has been blessed with the gift of 15 pieces of his work.

These pieces are currently on display at the Gallery, along with the primary show, David Plank's "Feathered Friends" exhibiting until November 20.

As an artist, he was gifted; as a brother, he saw the spiritual in everything. He became a full-time artist in 1960, the first Marianist to do so. He created more than 10,000 pieces of art during his lifetime. He did not separate the holy from the earthly.

Anne Brown, author of A Lifetime of Making Art: Brother Mel, wrote, "He continue[d] to challenge himself daily in creating art with one clear purpose in mind: 'bringing beauty to space to lift up spirits.'"

According to Brown, in 2009 Brother Mel stated, "All art is, for me, a religious statement. All creation is a God-like act, and we participate in this universal making."

The media he used were varied as were the styles he chose. He learned from the art of old masters; however, he loved the modernists. He created art for chapels, homes, parks, backyards, anywhere he could. Full news release on Meyer.

For additional information on the Gallery, contact Dr. Joe Geist, registrar of the collection at or Denise Gebhardt at, or by calling the Gallery at 660-248-6304.