“Honoring Jac: Jac Kephart remembered with retrospective show“
The Daily Sentinel, byANN WRIGHT
Dec 5, 2019
Jac Kephart’s first and last abstract works are side by side in the The Art Center’s North Gallery.
The first flashes in yellows and golds with a red rectangle that holds the eye. He painted it in the 1960s on canvas, which was different than the boards he used later, and he named it “The Red 1” for a red 1 toward the bottom, said Pat Kephart, the artist’s wife of 52 years.
Jac Kephart’s last painting also has a striking sliver of red, just above a thick horizontal sweep of pitch that contrasts with silver leaf and aluminum foil below.
“It wasn’t finished, just setting on the easel” Pat Kephart said.
Jac Kephart, 79, died May 16. More than 30 of his paintings, a retrospective including both his abstract and realistic work, will be part of the show “Shepherd + 1” that will open with a reception at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at The Art Center, 1803 N. Seventh St.
“He was a bright light,” said Terry Shepherd, director of ceramics and artist in residence at The Art Center, who wanted to recognize Kephart’s work in “Shepherd + 1,” which includes Shepherd’s ceramics.
Kephart had an “engaging curiosity” that extended beyond his own work to the artwork of others, said Shepherd, 67, who was in his early 20s when he first met Kephart.
Shepherd used to stop by Jac’s House of Flowers, the floral business the Kepharts ran for many years in Grand Junction, just to see what paintings might be hanging on the walls.
“I was always curious. What’s he doing now?” Shepherd remembered.
He was just 100 percent artist,” Pat Kephart said. “He was just incredibly talented.”
Throughout his life Jac Kephart was driven to create. “He was constantly sketching. Anything he l The water lilies in a pond near their home became paintings with nods to Oscar-Claude Monet. Boats that Jac and Pat Kephart took photos of during their trips to England, became other works in oil, pastels or mixed media.
“I really wanted to honor Jac by picking pieces he valued,” said Matt Jones, curator at The Art Center. With input from Pat Kephart and Shepherd, the retrospective offers a view of Jac Kephart’s work that shows his development as an artist, his playfulness, unbound and creative, as well as his deep intellectual side, Jones said.
“Jac was a lifelong study,” he said.
A number of Pat Kephart’s favorite pieces are in the show, but she holds all of her husband’s work close for the parts of him that she sees in the nuance of brush strokes, mix of colors or unexpected materials.
“I can’t live without his art,” Pat Kephart said.
“CMU donation honors legendary Grand Valley artist“
By JAMES BURKY [email protected]
Mar 27, 2021
You can find his paintings throughout the city, region and state. Colorado Mesa University is rich with his pieces. Now, after a $1 million donation from Jac’s widow, Pat Kephart, the CMU arts building bears Jac’s name with large signs resembling his signature.
“I hope it tells art students to follow their dreams,” Pat said. “That’s what Jac did.”
The donation and Jac’s legacy were honored with a celebration outside of the building on Thursday evening with speeches, food and drinks. CMU art students presented Pat with their own pieces to honor Jac.
Family, friends and fans of Jac recalled a man with a fervent passion for creating. That love extended beyond his own work to that of close friends and total strangers. He encouraged everyone to express themselves, speakers said.
Tim Foster, the outgoing president of CMU, was emotional when talking about his relationship with Jac.
Though he knew him as a close friend for decades, he talked about Jac’s work like a kid talks about their favorite superhero. Forty-four pieces by Jac are featured throughout campus, and Foster rec The message brightened the chilly, overcast evening.
“He wasn’t just a prominent member of the community,” Foster said. “He was just a true friend. I really miss him, and I wish he was here today.”
Jac’s family hopes that the name will ensure that he’s on the CMU campus as long as it exists. For students walking the same path as Jac, it gives them some visibility.
“Our students feel pushed back sometimes, but this makes me feel like we’re getting some recognition,” Art Student Madison Beaty added. “People downplay the importance of art degrees, but art is what makes the world beautiful.”
That’s integral to Jac’s legacy, his friends recalled. He wanted everyone to succeed and for art to be given the recognition it deserves.
Now when walking through the heart of the CMU campus, generations of students will know who Jac Kephart was.
“We want his legacy to be carried on and for the community to know how much he loved art,” said Kim Sparling, Jac and Pat’s daughter. “Art was everything to (Jac). I’ve never seen any artist who really was the epitome of what one should be. It came from his soul, it came from his heart.”