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Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005 12:30 pm

Where the art meets the road

"6x6" show timed to coincide with Route 66 festival

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PAA’s Patrick Shavloske with a featured Route 66-related work by artist Jim Edwards
PHOTO BY JOB CONGER
Paintings by Springfield’s Mary Ellen Strack and photographs by Carlinville’s Karl Warma are featured, along with works by other area artists, at Prairie Art Alliance’s current show 6x6, timed to coincide with the city’s annual Route 66 Festival.  “We wanted to take advantage of being in our downtown location and tie in with the festival,” says Patrick Shavloske, PAA executive director. Member artists were invited to submit works measuring 6 by 6 inches, related to travel, or priced “in sixes,” Shavloske says. (Featured artists Struck and Warma were not asked to conform to the theme — though many of Warma’s photos were taken at the roadside.) The 51-year-old Warma, born in O’Fallon, Ill., and now a resident of Carlinville, has traveled an interesting path that’s taken him to Africa, Rhode Island, and San Diego. “I did not do any art until I went away to school at Western [Illinois University]. My first summer there, I had a great art professor, Preston Jackson. I got involved with marketing, photography, watercolor, small-press operation, and book production.”
After graduation, he served three tours in the Peace Corps, helping launch a book production facility in Gambia and training the locals in photography, offset printing, and illustration. “It was a great experience for a kid from Illinois who had never traveled much to be a part of that culture,” he says. Stateside again, Warma studied graphic illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and fought a losing battle with what he calls his “photo side.” He explains: “Drawing required effort, and I always felt it was a legitimate course of study. Photography seemed too easy for me, and I didn’t consider it seriously as an art form because it seemed so natural. Eventually I gave in to the tug in that direction.” For 13 years, while based in San Diego, Warma worked with advertising agencies and established his own firm, Ad Image Communications, which he continues to operate in Carlinville. Warma’s return to his home state was pure serendipity. “I was visiting Illinois and passing through Carlinville when I saw a house I wanted to live in. I bought it and rented it to others while I was tying up loose ends out West.” Warma, who moved to Carlinville in 1996, set up the art computer lab and served on the faculty of Blackburn College before devoting all of his time to his business. Most of his photographic art depicts outdoor subjects, places, and spaces, mostly with no sign of human habitation, rural but not rustic. Often the images echo the bygone era when Route 66 was the “Mother Road.”
The 6x6 exhibition runs through Oct. 29 at the H.D. Smith Gallery, in the Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 S. Sixth St.
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