By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
Local folk artist Connie Blaylock Wallace tells her story and that of life in the Ozarks with a paintbrush, memories and the present. She shared her visual storytelling with OzarksWatch Video Magazine Host Jim Baker recently and this feature will air on Thursday, January 11, at 9 p.m. on Channel 21.
Approximately five years ago, she told her husband, Mike, “We’ve gotta go get some paints.”
Life had been in a rough patch for Connie and painting had become therapeutic and healing for her.
“It filled me up with joy and took away the sorrow of a lot of loss,” she said.
She continues creating because, as she says, “I can witness through my art and I’m leaving a legacy of and for my family.”
While initially somewhat apprehensive, “doing the interview with OzarksWatch Video Magazine is allowing me to get the legacy archived,” she shared. “And I enjoyed the interview and the whole process.”
For many in the Licking area, Connie’s artwork evokes memories of one’s own. Life in the Ozarks is oftentimes a shared life with the community, all with similar lifestyles and shared families and friends.
Connie was one of 14 children, 10 girls and four boys, raised by a father who was a preacher, which oftentimes meant travel and numerous moves, and a mother who was resourceful even in the direst of circumstances. Connie’s father passed at a young age and her mother succeeded in raising the children, albeit in poverty.
“We were resourceful; poverty can make you a victim or it will strengthen you and make you more empathic towards others,” stated Connie.
Maintaining her family legacy is important to Connie, so each painting is initialed on the front and signed on the back, including her maiden name, making sure the family name is carried on.
The Blaylocks are a musical family, instrumental and in song. A Music Series of 70 paintings are based on old hymns, expressed with reality, humor and all heartfelt.
Connie met her husband, Mike, when she was 16.
“Mike fell in love with me the first time he heard me sing,” she shares with a twinkle in her eye. “Our song is “You Light Up My Life.”
They have had a very good life together, and now share three children, 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, who visit often.
Due to the technique of Connie’s folk art (folk art has to tell a story), and her sharing of the story that prompted the painting, she is allowed to witness.
Viewers of the artwork also connect by envisioning the features on a more personal level and then possibly sharing one’s own story. Maybe it’s a lot like coming home?
Many patrons just want to “buy my memories,” she shared. That understanding has prompted her to keep the artwork affordable.
Connie takes God’s gifts to her and uses them to the benefit of others when at all possible, as she encourages others to do the same.
She picks up the blank canvas and “I get my inspiration from God,” she says.
OzarksWatch Video Magazine documents, presents and preserves the unique heritage of the Ozarks weekly and is a production of Ozarks Public Television, the Public Broadcasting Service for southern Missouri.
Jim Baker and Dale Moore have been hosting the program on-site or in the studio for 24-years. There are 325 episodes in the series with most being available on the station website.
Ozarks Memories-The Folk Art of Connie Blaylock Wallace premieres Thursday, January 11, 2024, at 9 p.m. and will repeat again on Sunday, January 14, 2024, at 2 p.m.
Photos by Christy Porter