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The World Around Him: The Paintings of J. R. Hamil

J.R. (Jim) Hamils superbly executed watercolor paintings play to a smorgasbord of the senses--to sights and sounds and smells and to memories resident within many of us who grew up in the Midwest, Mountain West and Southwest ... to visions of Ozark streams and hills and hollows; of vast stretches of open and thunder-cloud skies covering the Kansas plains, of snow-capped mountains pushed high into the Colorado troposphere, and rust-colored adobe buildings that have become indigenous human additions to the high desert Southwest.Hamel All of these sensual delights and memory portals are part of a new exhibition opening March 24 and running through May 7 at The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art at Central Methodist University.

Titled "The World Around Him: The Paintings of J.R. Hamil," the exhibition features 40 works by Hamil, including watercolors of rural landscapes and small towns and cities of Kansas, the Midwest and the American West, along with a number of Charles Banks Wilson lithographs from the gallery's permanent collection.

Hamil is known in Kansas City for his Plaza prints and for his many other prints and paintings of the Midwest. Admirers of Hamils art also know him for his art books, such as Farmland USA (written by his father, J. Harold Hamil) and Return to Kansas (written by his wife, Sharon). Several prominent Kansas politicians have used his art books as gifts to represent the Sunflower state.

"I'd say that my art is pretty much realistic prosaic subjects with some people as well as rural scenes," Hamil says and adds that he likes to produce his art "in a representational way that makes people aware of the various things around them" in their different outdoor surroundings.

Hamil, a native of Hastings, Neb., earned a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Kansas. After working as an artist for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City for nearly 15 years, he went on his own as an independent artist in 1973. Over the past three decades, Hamil has received numerous awards for hHamilis work and prizes in art shows. He has been honored as the Governor's Artist for the state of Kansas and as the American Royal Artist of the Year and has also been a feature artist for the Kansas City PBS-TV station Channel 19 auction.

Hamil is a member of the Watercolor USA Honor Society. He received the Johnson County (Kan.) Library Foundation's Pinnacle Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2003 and was named Best Local Artist by the readers of the Kansas City Magazine in 2003. He is a past member of the Board of the Arts and Humanities Association of Johnson County, Kan., and past board member of the Watercolor USA Honor Society.