University to host Champion Trees exhibit, lecture

Release Date: 3/11/2013

University of the Ozarks will host "Champion Trees of Arkansas: an Artist's Journey," a touring exhibition of artist Linda Williams Palmer's large-scale color pencil drawings of champion trees.

The exhibit will be on display in the university's Stephens Gallery, located in the Walton Fine Arts Center, from March 25 through April 19. The exhibit, which is part of the university's Walton Arts & Ideas Series, is free and open to the public.

Mark Wilcken

Mark Wilcken, who directed the AETN documentary “Champion Trees,” will be one of the guest speakers during a lecture on March 26 in the Rogers Conference Center.

In conjunction with the exhibit, there will be a lecture on Tuesday, March 26, featuring Palmer as well as award-winning video producer Mark Wilcken and assistant state forester Doug Akin. Wilcken directed the one-hour AETN original documentary "Champion Trees." The lecture will be held from 7-8 p.m. in the Rogers Conference Center and is free and open to the public. Preceding the lecture from 5:30-6:30 p.m., there will be a reception to meet the artist in the Stephens Gallery.

Organized for travel by the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, "Arkansas Champion Trees: an Artist's Journey" references history and science as well as an appreciation for natural resources. The exhibit includes 18 large colored-pencil drawings of champion trees accompanied by detail drawings of foliage, documentary photographs of depicted trees, and informative text panels that share the artist's perspective and help connect viewers to the information related to the champion tree topic. The colored pencil drawings demonstrate the best of the medium, one that is in wide-spread use in Arkansas schools. These large-scale interpretations give evidence of the nuance and sophistication that can be appreciated, aspired to, and achieved.

Palmer began her visual arts career in 1980 by studying with Don Lee and Pete Howard at the Westark Community College, now the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.  From 1985, Linda Palmer directed her focus on establishing her visual arts career.  She opened a studio in Fort Smith, created multiple series of work, entered and was selected for numerous competitions, and was publicly and privately collected. Palmer moved to Hot Springs, Ark., in 1991, and opened her studio, Palmer's Gallery 800 on Central Avenue.  It has since moved upstairs in the same location and is now known as the Linda Palmer Gallery.

Linda Williams Palmer

Hot Springs artist Linda Williams Palmer will present her exhibit, “Champion Trees of Arkansas: An Artist’s Journey,” at Ozarks from March 25 to April 19.

Palmer has continued her education through travel and studying past and contemporary masters first hand in many of the world's finest museums.  She lists Vermeer, Grant Wood, Georgia O'Keeffe, Jules Olitski, Milton Avery and Gustave Caillebotte as major influences.  Over time, she experimented with techniques and media, gravitating to Prismacolor Pencils on textured papers, her chosen medium to interpret natural and urban landscapes. She was awarded "Signature Status" by the Colored Pencil Society of America in 2006: an award for active members of the Society whose work appears three times within 10 years in one of the annual juried CPSA International Exhibitions.

Palmer's latest series, "Arkansas Champion Trees: an Artist's Journey," began in 2007 when she viewed the online list of the largest and oldest examples of each species of tree determined by Arkansas foresters.  A logical progression after her Guardian and Dancing Trees series, the Champion series has entailed over 5,000 miles of travel across the state, accompanying documentary photography, and research into the history and science of the trees.  Part of her journey has been to share her knowledge and artistic expertise with arts groups and institutions, and via educational programs sponsored by the Arkansas Forestry Commission.  This penchant for service is also strongly evident in her involvement in the Hot Springs art community where her advocacy and leadership is widely recognized, and in the number of artists and arts professionals with whom she has working relationships.

Wilcken is an award-winning producer, writer and editor. He moved to Arkansas in 2001 and taught video production for three years at the University of Central Arkansas. As an independent producer, Wilcken's first documentary, "Play On" aired internationally on the ABC Asia Pacific network while his commercial work drew clients from Alaska, California and Oregon. Wilcken joined AETN as a producer in 2006 and in 2012 won three regional Emmy awards for writing, editing and "cultural documentary" for his piece, "Clean Lines, Open Spaces."  Wilcken's other notable credits from AETN include, "Troubled Water", "CW150: Remembering the Civil War in Arkansas" and the series, "Men & Women of Distinction."

Wilcken's "Champion Trees" documentary is a one-hour AETN original production that explores these natural wonders and how they influence and inspire the people around them.

The Champion Trees exhibit is also sponsored by Plum Creek Timber Company, Domtar and the Arkansas Arts Council.

For more information on the exhibit or lecture, please contact the Humanities and Fine Arts Division at 979-1349.

White Ash tree

This drawing of a white ash tree is one of the featured artworks in Linda Williams Palmer’s exhibit featuring trees from throughout Arkansas.