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Western Kansas roots inspire artist’s latest Art is Ageless® win

John King is no newcomer to Art is Ageless®. The Emporia-based painter had a piece of his work featured on the cover of the competition’s 2017 calendar and has a “whole book of ribbons” to show for his past involvement.

This year was different, though, as John’s painting, “Rodeo Cowboy” was named best of show in the professional division.  

“It was quite an honor,” said John.

The painting was inspired by John’s childhood in Dodge City and the long-running Dodge City Days Rodeo. In fact, “Rodeo Cowboy” was originally painted for the rodeo’s western heritage art show where it also took home an award.

“I tried to capture the essence of the man over the beast scenario, which I think conveys pretty well in that painting,” said John.

But don’t pigeonhole John’s art by this one piece—his subject varies greatly from one painting to the next.

“I paint whatever I feel like painting basically,” said John.

And he’s been doing it for a long time.

“I’ve painted ever since I can remember,” said John. “I painted wild sweatshirts in high school and college and a lot of murals for free dance tickets and free beer—which worked out well,” said John.

It was after retiring from Emporia State University, when John and his wife built a small studio in their basement that his career really picked up steam, though.

“I paint five or six days a week religiously, from about 9 in the morning to two in the afternoon. My dog comes downstairs and goes around my easel and tells me it’s time to be done,” said John.

As for Art is Ageless, John is just grateful for the opportunity to enter through Emporia Presbyterian Manor.

“I appreciate PMMA for putting on this whole endeavor for retired people and people of my age,” said John. “I’ve seen a lot of people retire that didn’t have a thing to do and they didn’t last a whole lot longer because there wasn’t any reason to get up in the morning.”

And, whether it is through Art is Ageless or just for their own enjoyment, John encourages other seniors to continue to express themselves creatively.

“I think it’s a great endeavor for anybody fixing to retire—or already retired—to get involved and work, whether it be writing, singing, painting, drawing, sculpture … anything to keep your mind and body busy,” said John.

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