October 22, 2019
Story by Joe Vinduska
Courtesy Photos submitted
A wide range of local artists’ work will be on display at the Shafer Gallery as part of the Barton County Arts Council Friends and Acquaintances exhibit Nov.1 through Dec. 13. The show is underwritten by the Bill J. McKown Memorial Endowment distributed by the Golden Belt Foundation. Featured artists this year is new Barton painting instructor Phil Jacobson and his wife, Mantra Cora.
“The exhibit offers an opportunity to see in vivid detail what is going on in the creative environs of our own backyard,” Shafer Gallery Director Dave Barnes said. “Every style and approach to making art you can think of is on display here. We are grateful for the support of the Barton County Art Council for helping us give local artists a chance to shine. Art-making can be a lonely affair and events like this encourage their sense of connection while building and enhancing our sense of civic community as well.”
Featured Artist: Phil Jacobson and Mantra Cora
Phil Jacobson and wife Mantra Cora uprooted themselves from Tuscon, Ariz. and headed to Barton County in August so Jacobson could become the new art instructor at Barton. Their moving truck became stranded in the desert, the trailer blew a tire and almost flipped over and their first night in Kansas they were welcomed by a monster thunderstorm. Despite their treacherous journey, they are now working on getting settled, just in time to be the featured artists for the Shafer Gallery’s Friends and Acquaintances Exhibit.
For the past 25 years, Jacobson has traveled the world as a teacher giving seminars, and his reputation as a skilled painter is known internationally. He is now ready to shift gears in his new role as an academic art teacher and only travel once per year now.
“Part of the reason I’ve made this change is just to slow down and find a place where I can be supported and share back everything I have experienced at the same time,” he said. “So, to continue teaching but in a more stable kind of environment.”
Jacobson said art serves as an instrument with which he explores the many nooks and crannies of the physical and metaphysical world as it is constructed in his psyche.
“I have used art to investigate consciousness kind of like a cartographer but mapping different paths and journeys in consciousness,” he said. I was intrigued by seeing the different places the mind can go. It’s been a tool and an exciting, passionate one, I’ve used to explore dimensions of our awareness and consciousness.”
Jacobson’s selections for the show will represent a cross-section of his work from various periods and phases of his creative process over the years.
Mantra Cora grew up under communist rule in Poland. She said drawing and painting was a way for her to escape the harsh reality by creating beauty and harmony.
“It was a kind of meditation that let me be lost in space and time,” she said. “Actually, my mum often says that as a child I was never interested in playing with dolls or toys. My one pointed interest was playing with pens, pencils and paints on paper.”
After facing obstacles while trying to pursue a traditional art education, Cora quit art for 17 years. She eventually met her future husband in an alpine village near Vienna at a seminar he was teaching.
“He taught me how to paint in oils and helped me to believe in myself again,” she said.
From there, over time, she was able to gain more traditional studio art skills and the rest is history. Art is now at the forefront of her life.
“Art hasn’t changed me,” she said. “Art is changing me. I am taking creative risks with every step. Sometimes, I have fear, but realize the need to break through it.”
Cora will exhibit five pieces at the Gallery. Four of them are small portraits expressing that beauty and harmony can be found in the human form and the other is an intuitive piece that depicts the connection between the spiritual and the material realms.
For more information, contact Shafer Gallery Director Dave Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (620) 792-9342.