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Myrtice West shows off her book 'Wonders to Behold' on Dec. 3, 1999, at her home in Centre. The 84-year old artist is  alive and well, although a catalog for a recent art show at the Georgia Museum of Art incorrectly lists West as having died in 2005.
AP photo by Carley Corona
Myrtice West shows off her book "Wonders to Behold" on Dec. 3, 1999, at her home in Centre. The 84-year old artist is alive and well, although a catalog for a recent art show at the Georgia Museum of Art incorrectly lists West as having died in 2005.

Report aside, artist is alive and well

By Doug Gross
Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA — Alabama artist Myrtice West says she's slowing down a little and her eyesight's not quite what it used to be.

But, at 84 years old, she's sure she's not dead — despite recent reports to the contrary.

"You tell 'em I'm alive down here in Centre, Alabama, and still have a heart and am still painting," she said from her home Tuesday evening.

A painting by West is featured prominently in "Amazing Grace: Self-Taught Artists from the Mullis Collection," an exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art.

But the catalog for the show incorrectly lists West as having died in 2005, a detail that got picked up in news accounts and had her friends a little confused when she showed up for church Sunday.

"They all looked at me funny," she said. "Finally one of them came up to me and whispered in my ear, 'They put you in the newspaper but they said you were dead.' "

Paul Manoguerra, curator of the exhibit, said he's not sure how the error happened.

West's husband died in 2005.

"That's the only thing I can imagine," said Manoguerra, who said museum staff were updating information about West at the exhibit on Tuesday and planned to insert a note correcting the error in the show's catalog.

West, who started painting in the late '70s after a religious experience during which she says she woke up preaching behind the pulpit of a church she'd never been in before, said she's not upset about the error.

"I understand mistakes," she said. "I've made plenty of mistakes in my 84 years."

Manoguerra and others at the museum say they feel terrible about the mistake, but were happy to learn West is alive and still painting.

"I am glad to know she's alive because I love her work," said museum spokeswoman Bonnie Ramsey.

West's painting, "Ezekiel Visions 2 (Chapter 3:11-Chariot Over Israel)," is the first painting visitors see when entering the exhibit, which explores both religious and secular themes by mostly Southern self-taught artists.

It was the first piece of so-called "folk art" ever bought by Atlanta attorney Carl Mullis, whose collection is the source for the show.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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