Jacki Kellum Will Be Selling Originals & Prints of Her Watercolors at Her Hometown’s Labor Day Reunion in Gideon, Missouri

For the past 15 years, I have lived in the Northeast, within a few houses of the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, but in May of 2018, I moved to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, which is near my childhood home. I actually grew up in the Southeast Missouri Bootheel, in the tiny cotton-growing community of Gideon, and while both areas are considered to be the South, they do not look at all the same.

Ozarks Anywhere USA – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

I love the hills and valleys of the Ozark Mountains. Everywhere I look in my new home, I see a painting.

Barn On Highway 53 In Southeaset Missouri Bootheel
Jacki Kellum Watercolor

But the Bootheel is different. It is an almost surrealistically flat land, and in places, you see nothing but miles and miles of cotton or soybeans. While the Bootheel does not have the same kind of mystical and romantic appeal of the Ozarks. it does an entirely different kind of beauty.

One Ditch: Fishing Hole Back Home
Jacki Kellum Watercolor

Because the Bootheel of Southeast Missouri is the flood zone of the Mississippi River, the soil is so very rich there that hardly any of it is wasted on trees. Occasionally, you might see a narrow line of vegetation, crossing the terrain, but that would probably be on the banks of one of the small creek-like waterways that were dug there long ago, to catch the river, should it flood again.

Collectively, the waterways around home were called The Floodways. Individually, each of the bodies of water had one of the following less than illustrious names: One Ditch, Two Ditch, Three Ditch, etc. That is the honest truth.  During the 1950s and 1960s, there wasn’t a lot of effusiveness or ornamentation about Southeast Missouri, and there probably is less there now than there once was.

Most of the people who grew up around my home in Gideon, Missouri, have since moved away from there, but every Labor Day, the little town hosts a homecoming or town reunion. Every year, an artist is featured at that festivity, and this year, I am the featured artist. Last week, I returned to my hometown and snapped some photographs of the area to paint, and I’ll be selling paintings and prints and notecards that feature places that people in the Boothells might recognize.

I’ll donate one of my paintings to be auctioned to benefit the community in some way. I hope to see old friends and new friends September 1st and 2nd in Gideon, Missouri, at the annual Labor Day Homecoming.



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