Richard Powers Honored as Inaugural Polk Artist Hall of Fame Inductee
The Polk Arts Alliance recognized and honored artist Richard “Rick” Powers as the Polk County Inaugural Artist Hall of Fame Recipient at the Ramon Theatre’s 8th Annual Gala on Saturday, September 27, 2014 in Frostproof, Florida.
Award winning Florida wildlife and landscape artist Richard “Rick” Powers was born April 11, 1944 in Bartow, FL. as a 6th generation Floridian. He graduated from Bartow Senior High School, then Summerlin Institute, in 1962 and served in the U. S. Navy for four years. He attended and graduated from Florida Southern College in 1975.
Richard is a self-taught artist who at an early age showed an interest in art. His Father taught him his love for nature and its environment and they spent many hours in the woods and on the water. These times are reflected in his art as he recalls those most treasured moments. “Due to the influx of people, our fragile landscape has declined to a point that the natural habitat of our wildlife has all but disappeared. Through my art I strive to preserve for future generations the Florida that once was and will be no more.”
Powers considers the use of art critical in educating both young and old about the importance of conservation. He is one of the founding Artists of Arts Ensemble Education Foundation and Healing Arts Center in Winter Haven. Mr. Powers spends a great deal of his time giving of his time and talents to schools, children and adults.
Mr. Powers is the illustrator to Patrick Smith’s book, A Land Remembered and shares a Florida passed but not forgotten. His current mural, much of it depicting the books theme, is located at the Polk County History Museum and is a work in progress.
Much of Richard’s work can be found in commissioned work throughout Polk County and the State of Florida. “Polk Proud,” named after the theme of the county’s 150th anniversary year, is a colorful and detailed 4 feet by 8 feet original acrylic painting celebrating Polk County created by artists led by the Arts Ensemble Education Foundation.
In search of the artist for the Inaugural Artist Hall of Fame, The Polk Arts Alliance Board of Directors selected Mr. Powers for his talent, philanthropy, passion for preserving Florida Landscape, his passion and time for teaching all ages and being a 6th generation Floridian.
“Mr. Powers was a perfect match for ALL of the criteria we were looking for. Mr. Powers is the perfect choice to be the first to be honored to represent the vast talent in Polk County,” said Meri Mass, Executive Director.
This award was made possible by a collaboration with the Ramon Theatre, a grant through the Arts, Culture & Heritage Committee and Visit Central Florida.
Brahma Island Family Day
Brahma Island, Lake Kissimmee, FL December 1, 2012
Leland Family Ministries
Inside Polk Magazine October 2011
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The Winter Haven Hospital Foundation provides philanthropic support to Winter Haven Hospital, the Regency Center for Women & Infants, and the many other services our not for profit organization offers to the communities we serve. Foundation funds support state-of-the art medical care, cutting-edge technology and equipment, top quality education, and the best and brightest personnel. Contributions to the Foundation reach far beyond our walls. Gifts to the Foundation touch every facet of our community by facilitating outreach programs, support groups, charity care, and health fairs.
Mural gets recognition during Polk County Day
By DONNA KELLY
Published: Sunday, April 10, 2011 at 6:54 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 10, 2011 at 6:54 a.m.
Artists, Austin Thompson, left, Sheri Fox, seated left, and Richard Powers, right, along with Jane Waters, the executive director of Arts Ensemble International, stand with the painting "Polk Proud" which depicts 150 years of Polk County industry, agricultural and tourism. Wednesday April 06, 2011.
Paul Crate / News Chief
Artists, Richard Powers, left, Sheri Fox, center, and Austin Thompson worked shoulder to shoulder to paint "Polk Proud." Wednesday April 06, 2011.
Paul Crate / News Chief
The star of the recent Polk County Day reception in Tallahassee wasn't an elected official or a political mover and shaker. It was a painting. Visitors to the Tuesday night reception in the Capitol Building not only celebrated Polk County's Sesquicentennial Anniversary, but had the chance to watch local artists add details to a large mural representing 150 years of Polk County history.
"This painting brings out some of the historic elements of our community over the last 150 years moving us all the way into the current day in a nostalgic manner," said County Commissioner Sam Johnson. "They encapsulates the key elements that really speak to what Polk County was -- and is -- about with some incredible detail in the paintings."
"Polk Proud," named after the theme of the county's 150th anniversary year, is a colorful and detailed 4 feet by 8 feet original acrylic painting created by artists led by the Arts Ensemble Education Foundation. The piece is not only a celebration of the county but prints will be made and sold to raise funds for the Polk County Historical Museum.
During Polk County Day, a time when community and political leaders from the area gather to talk with state legislators about local issues, various visitors added their own brush strokes to the painting as the artists continued to work on the piece during the festivities.
"Proud Polk" was designed by artist Richard Powers, a Frostproof native, and Jane Waters-Thomas, who was born and raised in Lakeland. Images were chosen from photos gathered by county staff from each municipality.
The painting includes 22 historical renderings, including a landmark from each of the county's 17 municipalities as well as scenes representing major industries -- citrus, cattle, phosphate, natural resources and tourism.
A testimony to the importance of the railroad in Polk's history, depots from four cities -- Davenport, Lake Alfred, Mulberry, Polk City -- are depicted in the piece.
Landmarks found on the painting are Casa De Josaphina, Highland Park; Ramon Theatre, Frostproof; Cypress Gardens, Winter Haven; Old County Courthouse, Bartow; Annie Phifer Chapel, Lakeland; and Bok Tower, Lake Wales.
There are historical streetscapes from Auburndale and Haines City and buildings from Dundee Citrus Growers and Lake Hamilton Citrus Growers.
Nestled between the Polk County scenes are 13 portraits including all legislative delegates representing the county on the state level as well as county commissioners.
The vision was put onto canvas by artists Sheri Fox, Austin Thompson and Powers with consultation and direction from by Robert Butler, one of the famed Highwaymen artists who sold vivid Florida landscape paintings along the state's highways from the 1950s to 1980s.
Powers said the artists followed the general design but the painting evolved during each painting session.
"We changed it as we went," he explained. "You have to bring it to life."
Johnson said "Polk Proud" illustrates the changing Polk County landscape.
"The outdoors of Polk County is the canvas and popping up through it are the things that made Polk County over the years," Johnson said.
State Senator Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, indicated she "loved" the painting in an e-mail to the "News Chief." "It depicts our unique environmental and agricultural scenes as well as the recognizable structures scattered throughout the County...I thought the concept was both clever and representative of a feeling of pride," she wrote.
"Polk Proud" was a labor of love for Polk County natives Powers and Thompson, who was born and raised in Auburndale. "It's kind of a way of giving back to what you've been a part of," said Thompson, who began painting 10 years ago and took lessons from Powers. "It's neat to be a part of history."
Powers, whose realistic paintings largely depict Florida's vanishing wilderness, said the artists researched the various cities and towns to make sure the scenes are historically accurate.
"It's very important to perpetuate and preserve the history of this county," said Powers, a sixth generation Polk Countian. "Everything is changing. This is a way of preserving what was."
For Fox, a transplant from Michigan who moved to Winter Haven eight years ago, the project taught her more about her adopted community. "I learned more about Polk County history and Austin and Rick from the stories they told about it," she said. "There is so much more we could have put on the painting but there wasn't enough time or space." Fox worked extensively on the portrait section of the painting and was thrilled to meet the politicians during the reception.
"It was definitely the experience of a lifetime. I met the majority of them. It was like playing 'Where's Waldo,'" she said, referring to the children's books by Martin Handford in which one searches to find the Waldo character among busy picture pages.
"It was neat to have people come up and say, 'Hey, that's me!'" Fox said.
County Commissioner Bob English was one of them. "When I came into the room on the 22nd floor, people couldn't wait to get me over to the painting to see my picture," he said. "I thought they did a great job on everybody. I thought it looked like me pretty much. I was pleased with it."
Dockery not only indicated she was pleased with her portrait, but said compliments were made by friends and acquaintances, too, "I was very pleased with my portrait. It was a very flattering image and I'm grateful to the artist for shaving a few years off. Many people commented that it captured my likeness," she said.
English is glad the painting will be around for posterity. "Fifty years from now when they are celebrating the bicentennial, they will have that picture to look at and see our smiling faces," he said.
According to Waters-Thomas, the painting will travel throughout the county and will land at the Polk County Historical Museum. Prints will be signed and numbered and available for purchase. All proceeds will benefit the museum.
"As the executive director my heart is overwhelmed with pride and joy for my team of artists who captured perfectly the importance of our great county," Waters-Thomas said. "Polk County and her residents are our home and for us to have been part of such an amazing opportunity has been beautiful and overwhelming at the same time."
For details, about purchasing a print of "Polk Proud" contact Waters-Thomas at Arts Ensemble, at 863-293-2700.
Polk County Day
Date: April 5, 2011
402 S. Monroe St.
Polk Proud 150
Photos from Polk County Day 04/05/2011 Tallahassee, FL.
Richard Powers with "Polk Proud"
Richard Powers with County Commisioner Sam Johnson
Richard with budding young artist
Written by Snook Foundation Staff | 26 May 2009
Catch Me IF You Can, print now available.
see his latest work in Artists Gallery
We have always admired Richard Power's work on the well-known, "A Land Remembered" series, and now he is bringing these prints as well as exciting new images of some of our favorite gamefish to you in the Snook Foundation online store. Benefiting the Snook Foundation, Richard is offering some of his prints through our webstore, or you can purchase directly from his site, RichardLPowers.vpweb.com and trigger a donation to snook research by mentioning the Snook Foundation.
Richard Powers' rendering of a surfacing sailfish drew a lot of interest when it was featured on the cover of Coastal Angler Magazine earlier this year. Here are some excerpts from Richard Power's recent interview following the publication, with Ben Martin, of Coastal Angler Magazine.
Ben: How long have you been painting?
Richard: As of April 2009 I've been painting for over 20-years, but my love and fascination with the Florida outdoors goes back to my early childhood and the opportunities I had even at a young age to experience the magnificence of Florida’s outdoor wonders.
Ben: What was your first painting?
Richard: I painted a sunset scene of Englewood Beach, taken from a photograph that my cousin took.
Ben: Why do you choose to paint aquatic and outdoor subject matter?
Richard: Florida, as I remember it growing up as a child, is now gone and will not be remembered if not captured in paintings and stories. The fragile landscapes of our coastal areas and the inlands are being developed at such a extrodinary rate, that it has become difficult to see and remember what once was. As these developers move across our state we are finding a significant reduction in our wildlife, natural habitats, estuaries, coastal bay areas, and our offshore and inland habitats are dwindling to only a shadow of what they once were.
Ben: What's your favorite painting so far?
Release, by Richard Powers, was featured on the cover of Coastal Angler Magazine. Print now available.
Richard: That is very difficult for me to say. I love them all and each painting that I've created shares a unique story about Florida and our history here.
Ben: Where have some of your paintings ended up?
Richard: My paintings can be found in private collections from several individuals that collect specific stories in paintings as well as some corporate offices throughout the state. You can find my paintings on many of the Polk County owned and operated facilities as I am often commissioned to paint murals of life lived in nature within this region.
Ben: I understand that you have also provided artwork for some book covers, can you tell us about that?
Richard: The artwork that I've produced specific to books is found in a series of paintings that were painted for book, A Land Remembered book, written by Patrick Smith. This book is historical fiction set in pioneer Florida, covering a century of growth from 1858-1968. I am often asked to speak at local schools regarding this collection as it was a personal passion of mine to complete it because of my history as a native Floridian.
Ben: What are some of your subject matter plans for the future?
Richard: I am looking forward to doing more in the way of habitat and wildlife landscapes this year - sort of a "Florida's back country" painting series. I’m also considering doing some billfish paintings in 2009.
Ben: How did you feel about having your sailfish painting used as a cover design for Coastal Angler Magazine?
Richard: It was an honor to have my work showcased on the cover of Coastal Angler Magazine. It's always great joy to see your work in print, but to have it on Coast Angler's cover was a great deal of fun, too.
Ben: We thought so too, thanks Richard!
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