Return to Roots – Paintings, Photographs & Nature’s Design

January 1st, 2018 - January 31st, 2018

John Womack returns to his roots in Northwest Arkansas as a painter after a long career as a professor of architecture, a practicing architect and student and protégé of E Fay Jones. This exhibition, Return to Roots – Paintings, Photographs & Nature’s Design, features John Womack’s exquisite watercolors of the “interaction between buildings and landscape that has intrigued him for as long as he can remember…”

Photographer Heather Chilson’s work shares adjoining space on a similar journey.

Andy Baugus’ Art Tables and Living Furnishings rise up from the roots within our midst too.

These works are available for purchase.  Exhibition is open and free to the public throughout the month of January.



John Calvin Womack is a native of Springdale, Arkansas where he graduated from Springdale High School in 1968. He has degrees in art and architecture from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville (1973) and a Master’s Degree in Architecture from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma (1994). From 1973 to 1983 he worked with world-renowned architect Fay Jones and in 1983 opened his own architectural office in Fayetteville. In 1987 he became an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas School of Architecture, and in 1995 joined the architecture faculty at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. His award-winning architectural designs, drawings and watercolors have been published nationally and internationally and appear in many private collections. His book, Once Upon A Highway, Route 66 in Oklahoma, with text and illustrations by John, was published by New Forums Press in 2006. John retired from OSU in 2016 as Emeritus Professor of Architecture. He now pursues his love of painting in watercolor at his Stillwater studio on Berry Pond.

About the work:
The interaction between buildings and landscape has intrigued me for as long as I can remember and my watercolor paintings seek to explore and expand on this relationship. With my background in architecture I am quickly drawn to various types of places in the built environment but barns and other farm structures are especially stimulating to me. Farm buildings display such honesty, common sense, and lack of pretension, all qualities that I greatly admire. As these buildings, usually abandoned and in various stages of decay, merge into the surrounding landscape they create fascinating and ever-changing patterns of light, texture, and color. When viewing and painting these places I can’t help but wonder what human stories they quietly contain and what hidden messages and meanings lie waiting to be discovered or maybe whispered into the inner reaches of our understanding and appreciation.


Heather Chilson was born and raised in South Dakota and relocated to Northwest Arkansas in 2005. She uses a collection of film cameras dating back to the 1930’s and also shoots and works in the digital platform. Long before she began to study and learn the art of photography including processing her own film in a home-made darkroom, Heather sought to use photography to capture the beauty of age, not typically in usual form, but in the objects from our pasts.

About the work:
In my photographs I intentionally show the impact of time and the scars that its passage brings to objects once perceived to be “perfect”: rust on metal, broken glass fallen from windows, rotted boards on a building, moss on wood or stone. It’s these perceived imperfections that create the beauty of my world and begin to provide me with a story for these objects. As the story takes shape in my mind, I also think about why the subject was abandoned—who owned it? Did it bring them happiness or sadness? What were the circumstances that could have put this subject in my path in such an unrepairable, yet beautiful, state? Finally, I picture the subject in a photo from another time, decades ago, perhaps when it was new. All of this creates its history and helps me make a connection with the subject, gives it a story and therefore a life in my mind’s eye. Once I see it alive with a history, I am able to capture the beauty of its age.


Andy Baugus is a Fayetteville native and proprietor of 2nd Life Wood who has been milling large wood slabs and making furniture for over 23 years in Northwest Arkansas. He harvests and uses many different species of indigenous hardwoods including walnut, oak, cherry, maple elm, box elder, and many others. He gets trees removed for construction and that are storm damaged or dead standing. Baugus rescues wood that would be considered useless and turns them into fine pieces of furniture. Otherwise, the worst would happen to nature’s gift; they would be dumped into ravines or burned in piles into ashes.

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