Mena’s own, Monta Philpot’s acclaimed Ouachita Portrait collection was welcomed to the campus of UA Rich Mountain and on exhibit in the Ouachita Center with a reception honoring Philpot that gave art appreciators an opportunity to hear from the artist.
The collection was a heartfelt project of Monta’s, who wanted to chronicle her home community through her artistry using the colorful personalities, and their skillsets, who helped to mold and shape the Ouachita Region. The collection has been showcased throughout Arkansas in a variety of exhibits but it has also prestigiously adorned the walls of the Russell Senate Rotunda in our Nation’s Capitol.
Through her masterful artistry with Prismacolor, she has expertly preserved a way of life that is all too quickly fading, while simultaneously sharing their individual stories… stories that much like the patchwork of a quilt that, when stitched together, have become the folklore of the Ouachita Region. Stories like “Rooster” Cogburn who sat on his front porch in the Shady community, always with a wave for passers-by, while he whittled rolling pins and other utensils; Dean Egger who pastored multiple generations from a small country church in Cherry Hill; or Delta Meador whose handmade quilts that are now prized heirlooms… and this is just a small sampling.
The exhibit includes a brief description to accompany each work of art that better explains the significance of the setting for the portrait’s subject. One example being a portrait of John L. Faulkner alongside a pasture of cows that is bordered by a line of electrical poles and lines that signify his more than thirty-year seat on the board of directors for the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. The description ends by crediting his contribution toward rural electricity as bringing about “one of the greatest economic and lifestyle impacts in the Ouachita Mountains.”
Monta said that visiting with each of the people featured in her collection was as much her favorite part as the art itself and critical to bringing the art to life. Philpot holds a degree in art from Texas A&M University and now only does commission pieces.