Carol Ann Yeary posed next to the portrait Zeke Estep painted of her and which is now hanging in Gallery Zeke.
Gallery Zeke—the newest art space in Steelville—opened its doors last week with a reception and ribbon cutting ceremony on October 11.
Steelville Arts Council (STARCO) welcomed arts patrons to the newly refurbished location on Main Street, showcasing a project spearheaded by STARCO Secretary Gary Sanders. During the grand opening, several arts council members and local leaders commented on the new place.
“For us to be here, someone had to have an idea,” said STARCO President Scott Perkins, noting that Sanders had provided the idea for the canoe sculpture art and now for this gallery. And, with the support of the arts council board, that concept was made real. “For me, it is very gratifying to see this come to reality,” Perkins continued.
“Gary’s vision of Gallery Zeke is very important,” added STARCO volunteer Jack Bowles. He noted that the carpeting that covers the walls provides a space to hang artwork without having to worry about filling in nail holes when an exhibit changes. The space also features rough-finished concrete floors and an exposed brick wall, in addition to a white wall with the gallery name over a self-portrait of the young artist for whom the gallery was named.
That artist, Zeke Estep, was in a car accident at age 21 and sustained a brain injury. After the accident, his work became bigger—literally—he began painting large pictures. The gallery showcases his self-portrait and another portrait of Carol Ann Yeary. Sadly, Estep passed away at the age of 31 due to the injuries from the accident.
Estep’s mother, Annie McCullough was at the reception and cut the ribbon for the gallery opening. “This is my adopted community,” she said. “I feel very fondly towards this town and this grounds us here forever.”
Perkins also talked about being at the gallery earlier in the day before the reception and seeing a young artist come in to ask Sanders to look at her work. Sanders took the time to do so and provided encouragement to her.
“That’s the kind of stuff that reminds us all that we are making a difference,” Perkins said. He addressed Sanders directly, and said, “Thank you, Gary, we have to have mentors like that.”
Steelville Mayor Terry Palmer told the assembled group that, as a child growing up, he had always loved inventors and that art is a type of invention. He expressed appreciation for what the arts council has done in inventing new things for the town. “This distinguishes our town,” he said. “It shows that we’re not followers, but leaders.”
“It’s really wonderful, the things that have happened over the last couple of years,” Steelville Chamber of Commerce President Jeanne Locklear said. “I think it’s absolutely fantastic.”
Bowles and Sanders talked about the people and businesses who had been involved in bringing the gallery to life and expressed gratitude for all who had supported the project. Those listed on the program for the evening included: Delmar Hutson, Deloris Bell, Perkins Lumber, Missouri Hometown Builders, Steelville Manufacturing, Lowe’s, Solid Rock Construction, Mike’s Roofing Company, Rita Stulce, George Seidl, Booker Heating and Cooling, Meek’s, Coverdell Glass, Kevin Delargy, Matt Lee, James Frank Sanders, Cherokee Construction, Paula Jacobson, Glen Jacobson, Joe Jamison, Barb Bryan, Terry Bryan, Tina Heusler, Rosemary Woodward, Alfred Hughes, Curtis Hayes, Ellen Bowles, Jack Bowles.
STARCO Board Members are: Scott Perkins, President; Bob Bell, Vice-President; Gary Ferd Sanders, Secretary; John Fester, Treasurer; Members Chris Case, Katie Nott and Jim Barksdale.