artNotes from Hyde House: A talented homegrown hero

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Lowell and Rose Davis

Many days you can find this artCentral artist ready to greet visitors arriving from all over the world. He sits on the front porch of the restored home place of the notorious outlaw Belle Starr. An outlaw in his own right, Lowell Davis left a promising art career in Dallas to return to his native soil.

Recently Lowell was honored as an inductee into the Hall of Carthage Heroes. Accompanied by his wife, Rose, and family members, Lowell was celebrated at the Fair Acres Family Y along with  five other members of the eighth class of heroines and heroes.

With great appreciation for his contributions to the cultural life of our community and that of the far reaches he has touched, artCentral salutes Lowell. “Congratulations! Well done!”

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The plaque presented to Lowell, a replica of the one now displayed in the Hall of Carthage Heroes, tells his story and celebrates his life as an “Artist and Citizen of Distinction”.

Lowell Davis, son of Berton Clayton Davis and Nell Marie Davis, was born in Lawrence County, Missouri, on June 8, 1937, and grew up in Red Oak, Missouri. He attended Mark Twain grade school and Carthage High School. Lowell married Rose Castillo Davis in 2003. He has three daughters and three sons from previous marriages: April Davis Brunner, also an artist, Heather Davis, Wren Davis, Phillip Davis, Jeb Davis and Aaron Davis.

Ironically, after failing English and art his sophomore year at Carthage High School in the 1950’s, Lowell dropped out to join the Air Force. As a part of a four-member crew, he flew prop planes during the Algerian War. After one particularly rough landing in Algiers, Lowell received a medical discharge. Following his military service, Lowell moved to Dallas-Fort Worth to be an Art Director for a large advertising agency. He explains his experience, “All those fourteen years, all I could think about was getting back to Missouri and getting a farm.” Fulfilling that wish, Lowell returned to a farm outside Carthage to farm and pursue his own art full time.

Well known for his art depicting farm life in America, most especially in Jasper County, Lowell is often referred to as the “Norman Rockwell of Rural Art”. His artistic works include paintings, figurines, bronzes, metal sculptures and art storybooks that reflect small town life in rural Missouri, giving a glimpse into simpler and often sweeter times.

Among Lowell’s greatest contributions to the Carthage area is his recreation of his childhood hometown of Red Oak, the original now vanished. Red Oak II is a charming step back into a small rural town, complete with the original Phillips 66 gas station, general store, school house, blacksmith shop and the Belle Starr home he preserved, moved and restored on the property. Thousands of visitors traveling Route 66 make a special stop to visit Red Oak II and sometimes have the pleasure to run into Lowell at his home there.

Lowell has created numerous metal sculptures and signs around Carthage, highlighting various businesses, schools and activities in our community. In 1978, he was one of the founding members of The Midwest Gathering of the Artists a juried art exhibit and sale held in Carthage for more than thirty years to showcase Midwestern and Western paintings and sculptures. In 2019 Lowell was recognized as the Chamber of Commerce “Artist of the Year”.

The members of artCentral and the citizens of Carthage extend to you, Lowell Davis, our deepest gratitude. You have put Carthage on the cultural map of the world. Lowell Davis you make a difference! We honor you, a true Carthage Hero!

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