Editor’s note: This article is the second in a monthly series spotlighting the variety of talent, mediums and creativity that reside at The Galleries at Sunset Center.
A sampling of the diverse group of artists that inhabit The Galleries at Sunset Center is evident as visitors pull into the large parking lot on the east side of the Galleries.
That’s where the art experience begins.
Outside the east entrance lies the late Galleries founder and artist Ann Crouch’s “crown jewel,” a sculpture garden enhanced with water features and surrounded by an ornate iron fence. The sculptures are representative of many artists and subjects — children playing, Venus flytraps, a collection of lounging animals — all waiting to delight the viewers. The rays of the early morning and late evening sun, casting shadows and emphasizing the intricacies of the metal works.
After visitors have enjoyed the relaxation of the gardens, they go inside and begin their tour. Access to The Panhandle Art Center and Amarillo Art Institute are located at the east entrance, as are these artists’ studios and galleries.
Gallery: Shining Sword Studio & China Art Gallery, Studio 96
John Eder did not begin Chinese brush painting because he was born in China.
Eder was born in Austin, grew up in Corpus Christi, and came to the Texas Panhandle to complete his college education at West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M). After eight years working his way through college, he graduated on May 21, 1968, from WT and was commissioned as a Regular Army 2nd Lieutenant. He married Vicki Daniel of Canyon on July 25, 1970, 12 days after returning to Amarillo from Vietnam. Eder completed his Army career as a captain training Rangers at the mountain phase of Ranger School at Dahlonega, Ga. Eder resigned his commission in September, 1972, to return to Texas with his family. Their daughter, Melissa, was born in Georgia shortly before John and Vicki left the Army.
After finally acknowledging his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 31 years later, Eder was referred for counseling at the Amarillo VA Medical Center and began attending group meetings. In January 2007 he attended a seven-week VA residential treatment program in North Little Rock, Ark., that emphasized learning various methods of coping with and understanding problems arising from PTSD.
Soon after returning and completing retirement from 33 years in the financial services industry, Vicki and John visited a local retailer where she asked him to consider buying a small art kit. Eder did not believe that he needed another activity, but the small box with two brushes, an ink stick and ink stone, Xuan paper, four tubes of Chinese ink and an instruction book looked interesting. With Vicki’s encouragement, Eder accepted the challenge and began discovering Chinese Brush Painting in April, 2007.
This has become Eder’s passion, his business — Shining Sword Studio & China Art Gallery — and his major therapeutic activity. Contemplating his subject while grinding an ink stick on an ink stone serves as the starting point for all his paintings.
Eder did visit China in April 2013. For 18 days, nine Chinese brush artists from across the United States visited scenic areas and historic sites from Beijing to Shanghai and attended various Chinese Brush Painting demonstrations. The highlight was the series of demonstrations at the beautiful and expansive Beijing studio of Gong Bi (Meticulous Style) Master Artist Su Bo Dou. He and six of his fellow Master Artists provided many new ideas, techniques and inspiration for Eder’s paintings and can be seen in his post-2013 art. The artistic suggestions and demonstrations by their guides, Dr. Ning Yeh and his wife, Lingchi Yeh, of Oriental Art Supply were extremely valuable to the overall success of this “Dream Journey.”
A year later, Eder visited Taiwan. For22 days, 13 artists were taken on a journey that involved immersion into the Taiwanese culture through visits to the National Historical Museum, The Palace Museum and the Botanical Gardens in Taipei. Additionally, they were exposed to such venues as Sun Moon Lake, Alishan (Ali Mountain), Chihpen Hot Springs, and Taroko Gorge National Park. Painting time was held at many of these sites and are visible in many of Eder’s newest paintings. The “2014 Dream Journey” was again led by Ning and Lingchi Yeh.
Eder is committed to improvement, with an emphasis on maintaining the unique and original aspects of this ancient oriental art form and sharing it through his brush painting classes for all age groups, his business, his websites and his various exhibitions and public demonstrations.
Gallery: The Steven Cost Gallery, Studio 61-A
Steven Cost is best known for his bold abstract art. His preferred painting medium is acrylics, and be he has spent much of his art career as a graphic designer, one of his underlying strengths is his compositions. He uses specific color systems for the best color harmony and psychological impact.
Several years ago, Cost added collage and assemblage to his body of work, and they have enhanced his abstracts. His work features geometric forms, expressive painting techniques and a variety of textures. Much of his recent work is inspired by music and sound, through a process known as synesthesia.
Born in Anadarko, Okla., Cost descended from a pioneer family. He incorporates spiritual philosophy into his art, inspiration derived from living among the Native American cultures in Southwest Oklahoma. In addition to being a full-time artist, he is presently an associate professor of art at Amarillo College teaching design, drawing and painting.
Cost’s training and background is diverse. He earned a bachelor of arts degree with a double major in graphic design and fine art. He completed a masters of arts degree in mass communications specializing in in filmmaking, a masters of arts in painting, and a masters of fine arts specializing in graphic design. Cost worked for design firms and advertising agencies in Pensacola, Fla., and served as the art director for the Amarillo Observer Magazine. He has studied at Southwestern Oklahoma State University; Louisiana Tech University-Rome; The University of West Florida; The University of California-Santa Cruz; and West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M). Cost has been on the full-time faculty of Texas State Technical College, Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Amarillo College.
With works residing in collections around the country, Cost’s creations have been included in many galleries, exhibitions, and competitions. Pieces are regularly shown in the Quayside Gallery in Pensacola, The Art Barn in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., The Perna Gallery in Taos, N.M., Las Tiendas in Amarillo.
Kenneth (Ken) Wampler
Gallery: Ken’s Art Studio and Gallery, Studio 93-A
Amarillo has been the home of Kenneth Wampler and his family since 1967 after moving from Houston, where he worked for 10 years as an industrial engineer for Hughes Tool Company. He was born and raised in Western Oklahoma until he was 12. Having little or no summertime entertainment, Wampler spent many hours studying the nesting of local birds and the raising of their young. His family moved to the Texas Panhandle and he graduated from Dumas High School and Texas A&M University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and later his professional engineering license in the State of Texas. He served two years of active duty in the Army, including 18 months in Europe. His interest in photography, the outdoors and the Army travels has given him many first-hand ideas and material for his paintings. He is a life member of the North American Hunting Club, member of Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Wampler turned his love for hunting, fishing, and the outdoors into a realistic wildlife adventure of painting. He started studying art seriously in 1967. Though basically self-taught, he has studied with Dr. John P. O’Neil and Judy Betts of Louisiana; Jerry Yarnell of Oklahoma; Charles Sanford of Colorado; Julie Gilbert of Arizona; Ken Hosmer of Nebraska; Alexis Lavine of Greensboro, N.C.; JoBeth Gilliam of Lubbock; Carolyn Stallwitz of Dumas; R. Russel Brown of Canyon; and Stephan Kramer, Emin Abbsov, Billie Opitz, and Nancie Seismore all of Amarillo. He has shared his art with many through Amarillo College’s continuing classes, teaching drawing, watercolor and acrylic painting. He has conducted watercolor classes at the Amarillo Art Institute, watercolor workshops, and performed watercolor demonstrations for regional art organizations.
Following his retirement from the Pantex Plant in 1996 and after a stint at home, Wampler leased a space for a studio and gallery in Sunset Center in 2006, when The Galleries at Sunset began operating. He has been actively working in his gallery and studio engaged as a full-time artist.
Wampler has been active in local art organizations and has served as president, show director, membership chairman, life member of the Amarillo Fine Arts Association. he is a past treasurer of the Lone Star Pastel Society of Amarillo, president of the Watercolor Society of Amarillo, member and program chairman of publicity of the Tri State Association of West Texas A&M. He is an active member of the Moore County Art Association of Dumas, past member of the Panhandle Art Center and The Amarillo Art Institute, and chairman of the Board of Trustees and Ushers of the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Amarillo.
Wampler has paintings exhibited throughout the United States, Germany, Holland, and Mexico. Wampler has had several one-man shows in Texas: The Borger National Bank, The Art Center of Dumas; the Square House museum in Panhandle; Against the Wall Frame Shop in Amarillo; the Armstrong Museum in Claude; and the Botanical Gardens in Amarillo.
Wampler’s art is also exhibited in the Panhandle Art Center of Amarillo and at Ken’s Art Studio in Suite 93-A.