By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Rev. Dr. Arthur Jaggard may have a Bible near at hand, but he’s also likely to have a paintbrush.
The senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Anderson happens to be an artist, and he brings his enthusiasm for art into the church.
Each week, inside what’s known as “The Attic” room at the church, Jaggard meets up with the church’s art guild. Usually about six to 10 artists bring their equipment and their inspiration.
They set up their easels, or stake out space on a table. Paints and brushes are unpacked. Then, they set about the business of creating art while enjoying each other’s company.
“We’re all a bunch of people who like to paint,” says Jaggard simply. The painting preacher is actually better known as Pastor Art.
“This year I’ve been really focusing on puddles,” the chipper artist says. He’s got a large Masonite board lying flat on the table, with a photograph of a puddle for reference nearby. His box of acrylic paints is opened, and he wields a brush as he studies his work in progress. The puddles are a bit of a departure for him since portraits have been his mainstay.
Although he took art courses at the University of Minnesota where he majored in philosophy, Pastor Art says the first big art influence in his life was closer to home. “When I was four, my grandmother started teaching me.”
Seated near Pastor Art, Schafalia Wise works at an easel on a canvas upon which she has sketched a Victorian house.
“I’ve been painting a long time,” says Wise. Although she attended church elsewhere for more than 50 years, Wise starting coming to First Baptist’s art guild and was ultimately won over to the church as well. “The people were so nice.”
Wise enjoys the guild, noting that when you’re just working on artwork for yourself, “It’s real relaxing.”
At another table, artists Jayne Eakman and Kay Flanigan have created a small palette with an array of deep reds. They study and dab at an already completed painting with bright colored flowers splayed across it. Someone else purchased the painting, but the colors didn’t match their couch. They appealed to the artists for help. “We’re trying to transform it,” says Eakman.
The art guild members periodically show their work. They have an exhibit coming up in August at a store downtown. They also go on outings from time to time. Mostly, they paint.
“We have some awesome, awesome artists in this church,” says Pastor Art. That includes professional artist Michael Miller, some of whose works hang at the church, who specializes in golf landscape paintings.
On Fridays, Pastor Art also teaches art at the church. During the school year, he uses his Friday art time to teach home-schooled students. In the summer, he uses the time slot to teach a college level class which includes hands-on endeavors, but also explores issues related to the philosophy of art.
The pastor says he explores questions like “why Picasso was such an antihero in art.” He cautions that the lecture on that is coming, but foreshadows the topic, saying, “Picasso was an antihero because he believed in deconstructing beauty into composite forms.”
“You can’t help but learn from him,” says art guild member Bob Barnett. He’s seated at a table where he works on a colorful painting featuring a unicorn. He’s painting it for his 1-month-old great-granddaughter.
Pastor Art turns his attention back to his puddle, while listening to and chatting with his fellow artists. It will be the next work in his prolific portfolio. Brush in hand, the preacher notes, “I am hoping to leave something good behind.”
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If you go What: First Baptist Church Art Guild Where: First Baptist Church, 907 N. Raible Ave., Anderson When: Wednesdays, 1 to 4 p.m. More info: Contact the church at 643-7458 or check out the website at www.fbcanderson.net.