People interested in checking out the work of a local artist may want to stop by the lobby of the U.S. Bank in St. James, located at 120 W. Eldon St.
Gene Huebner, of St. James, will have some of his work on display and for sale at the bank for the rest of the month as part of U.S. Bank's "Business Partner of the Month" program.
Huebner, a member of the Arts Rolla organization, said he has exhibited and sold his work at a wide array of locations over the years.
He said he and his wife, Pam, are from the Chicago area, but moved to St. James about 10 years ago.
He has relatives in Oklahoma, and when he and Pam visited them, they went down Interstate 44, through St. James and Rolla.
"One day, out of the clear blue skies, I asked Pam if she ever thought of moving, and she said 'yes!'" he said, explaining how the couple wound up in St. James. "We started looking in Rolla and slowly looked at surrounding towns. We wanted to be kind of central to things, and what's Rolla's motto? 'The Middle of Everywhere.'"
Huebner said he has a limited amount of formal art education, mostly comprised of a correspondence course, a couple of night classes, workshops, reading and learning from TV shows.
"I've been interested in art since I was a kid," he explained. "But I never really had any formal training. Even in high school, I didn't take art."
He said even though he always had a passion for art, he didn't consider it as a career.
"My parents always said I needed to make a living," he said. "And we all know that artists don't make a living — unless they teach."
Back in Chicago, he retired from Zenith TV as a quality control manager. He also used to own a custom frame shop.
Even though he wasn't an artist by trade when working at Zenith, he said he always tried to be creative in his work.
"I have always been doing creative things," he said. "Artists have to be creative whether they are painting or working as a craftsman."
He said he started being involved with art and craft shows in the '80s but was not able to dedicate as much time to the craft as he would have liked due to the demands of his full-time job.
He said he has been able to dedicate much more time to his artistic endeavors since retiring and moving to Phelps County.
Most of his art consists of acrylic painting. He has also worked with colored pen and ink, sculptures and a wide variety of crafts, among other mediums.
Page 2 of 2 - "I prefer painting landscapes," he said. "You have a lot of freedom with landscapes. I look at Google images and get some ideas from there. This can help me with colors and composition."
However, Google is not the only source of inspiration for Huebner. In fact, Huebner said his inspiration can come from a variety of places.
"Once, I caught an image on TV. I saw the image in a commercial and just went with it. It's hard to explain."
He said creating his work involves a process that takes a lot of thought and decisions.
"I heard someone say 'Artists have thousands of decisions to make.' And that is really true. I've never done a painting that I think is completed. I could take any painting and make changes to it."
He said one of the paintings he's most proud of is titled "The trick is to get from here..."
"This painting represents me," he explained.
"The painting has all kinds of ideas, images and subjects, spilling out (of the back of the subject's head, which is opened like a sardine can)," he said. Those ideas, images and subjects go from the man's head all the way to his paint brush, and eventually on a canvas.
This painting was made with a mix of acrylics and paper mache.
Huebner said he is also especially proud of a portrait he painted of Claude Monet, due to the style he used for the piece.
The Monet can be found for purchase on his website – www.genesart.com – but Huebner said the piece that represents his creative process is not for sale.
Huebner said he's not sure where his artistic endeavors will take him in the future.
One thing he knows for sure, though, is that he will not stop doing what he loves anytime soon.
"It's just something inside of me," he said. "I couldn't stop if I wanted to."
To learn more about Huebner, check out his website, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the St. James U.S. Bank before the end of the month.