KESLER WOODWARD (AIKEN HIGH, CLASS OF 1969)
Kes grew up on a cotton farm in South Carolina, went to college in North Carolina and married a Virginia woman, but he has spent most of his life in Alaska.
He is one of the state's best-known contemporary painters, and is an author, curator and art historian, and an authority on the art of the circumpolar north.
His wife, Missy, instigated his first visit to an art museum and lured him to his first art class at Davidson College. In 1977, he was off to Alaska, where he served as curator of visual arts at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau and then as artistic director of the Visual Arts Center of Alaska in Anchorage. In 1981, he and Missy settled in Fairbanks, where he was professor of art at the University of Alaska for more than 20 years. He retired as art department chairman with emeritus status in 2000.
His paintings are in collections across the United States. He has shown his work throughout the country and in Brazil and Russia, has lectured across the world, and has produced eight books on Alaskan art. At the Morris Museum of Art a few years back, I had the privilege of collaborating with him on a couple of projects that gave him the chance to reconnect with his Southern roots.
Linda Richards (Richmond Academy, Class of 1965)
I've known Linda since junior high days. Unlike Kes, she didn't need to be lured into art; an easel was part of her bedroom furniture.
After studies at the University of Georgia and the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Fla., and a brief stint as an artist in the advertising department at The Augusta Chronicle , she made her way to New York, where she did further study at SUNY Empire State College and Parson's School of Design.
She has concentrated on illustrations for national advertisers, magazines and major book publishers. Two of her commissioned paintings were used to illustrate a social studies book published by NASA and one of her books for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich was nominated for the Utah Children's Book Award
Her commissioned paintings for NASA were exhibited at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and toured nationally before going into the permanent collection at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Her advertising clients include Ford, Toyota, IBM, General Foods, Time Life, and Mercedes Benz. In the past 15 years, she has expanded her work into product design and development for major manufacturers of toys and collectibles.
Linda has always had a special place in her heart for animals; visitors to her home are likely to be greeted by a number of cats, dogs and other critters. In her noncommercial fine artwork, she is exploring what she calls more universal images, drawing on her strong connection with nature and her years of experience with NASA to link images of nature on earth with images from space. She creates these works using a very old technique of carving into black-coated or white clay and painting.
Louise Keith Claussen is Morris Communications Co.'s corporate art manager, former arts editor and art museum director, and an advocate of Augusta's cultural arts community. See more Artside at blogs.augusta.com.