Former WFISD art professor, gallery director presents works of art


What: 2021 Lift Up Artist Gary Kingcade

Where: Kemp Center for the Arts, 1300 Lamar

Entrance: Free and open to the public. Information at (940) 766-3347 or Donations are welcome at

The Wichita Falls Arts Council presented its 2021 Lift Up Art Featured Artist Award to Gary Kingcade, a native Wichitan who taught at WFISD for 40 years, inspiring many young art students. He also worked as a gallery director at the Kemp Center for six years and continues to exhibit his paintings, sculptures and jewelry regularly.

Previous Lift Up artists include Polly Cox, Glen Conway, and Jack Stevens. There is currently an exhibition of Kingcade’s artwork in West End Studios which will be open until the end of the year.

The Lift Up Art Program is an annual program at Kemp, according to CEO Carol Sales, “to keep the memory alive of artists who influence the community such as Scottie Parsons, Betty Higgins and Tom Crossnoe. It reminds us of who elevates the arts, or art lovers, ”she said.

For a $ 25 donation to the Canada Council for the Arts, donors can celebrate someone in their life who has inspired them. The Canada Council for the Arts will send a magnet representing one of the paintings by the artist Lift Up Art along with a short note to the honoree’s donor.

“It’s similar to the Hospice Star program and it’s to remind people every year of the people who inspired them. We don’t have a star, we have a magnet; it’s just to keep a history of the artistic influence of our programming – and the work of the artists who have influenced art lovers, ”said Sales.

Nominations for the Lift Up Artist award are made annually, and a committee meets in June, reviews the nominations and makes their selection. Kingcade was nominated five years ago.

Wichita Falls Arts Council 2021 Acrylic Painting

Kingcade has lived his entire life in Wichita Falls, graduated with two degrees from Midwestern State University, and taught at WFISD for 40 years.

After retiring from Hirschi High School and Wichita Falls, he became the gallery director at Kemp for six years and continued to paint and make jewelry, when he could get the materials. His current exhibition at the West End Studio Gallery is made up of paintings he has not sold or offered for sale.

Interested in art from an early age

Kingcade came to art at the age of 4 or 5.

“I had a brother who was a year younger and we had to take an afternoon nap. Larry was very active, so he needed to rest. I was awake. My mom left me a notepad and pencil, so while he slept I was lying on the bed drawing, ”the artist said.

“It was just something I loved to do. Unfortunately, none of my early work has been preserved.

Kingcade picked up art at Harrell Elementary from (former Lift Up Artist) Glen Conway in grades 5, 6 and 7.

“Conway got interested in me and got me to one of the first downtown sidewalk art shows in 1955 or 56. He put it in a judged show and I won a ribbon. At that age, it was pretty important.

Kingcade attended MSU and obtained his BSE diploma in arts education at all levels, followed by an ME diploma in counseling. One of the things that drew him to both art and consulting was a job he had while in high school.

Love of teaching

“In high school,” he says, “I wanted a job and I was good at teaching. All the time, I was going to work for the Boys Club. I lied and said I was 16 (rather than 15 and a half). I worked for them all through high school and college. They sent me as a branch manager near the projects on the east side of the river on Wichita Street. “

While there, Kingcade got really interested in working with children and really enjoyed doing it.

“After I graduated from BSE, I went back and got my ME diploma in counseling. But I didn’t want to advise all the time. I did more teaching in a classroom. I recruited difficult kids by getting them interested in art, and a lot of them were successful, ”Kingcade said.

One of his students, Shannon Spruiell, living in Washington state, is a well-known glassblower.

“So many kids took my classes and many of them were amazing. One of the best high school kids I had at Old High now owns radio stations in California, ”he said.

Kingcade took a number of his students to regional art exhibitions like Graham and Burkburnett and listed their work in the youth division.

Art is a very therapeutic thing for Kingcade, both for the artist who creates the piece and for the audience who meets it.

“Everyone has what they like,” he said. “Some are more sensitive to visual arts and dance music and so on. I have danced with each of these pieces and sometimes I sing for them and sometimes I have a hard time with them. There can be a very personal connection between visual artists and how they feel.

Ideas come from a deeper place

Sometimes though, he says, he’s just a tool like in his work “Scare the Crow” on his current show “The idea came from a much deeper place and I don’t know why. Some things I play and have fun with like my Pumpjack painting. My brother at one point was running them. I’ve always loved horses but never owned one, yet there are a lot of horses and western flavors in some of my arts.

“My mother said she had Native American heritage, but I never investigated it. I think there was a certain legacy. I don’t pretend to be Indian, but that doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate imagery in work.

Media, style changes

Sometimes, Kingcade said, his art is nothing but happy accidents. The main change he’s made since college is switching from oil to acrylic to make sure the job dries faster. He also began to incorporate objects for integration, such as animal bones. “I had never seen him do it before, but I just learned how to do it.”

The approach to art, he said, ranges from elementary to middle school to high school to college and beyond.

Tell a story through art

“In 40 years of teaching in high school, I have brought art to a lot of students. I tried not to make it a skill set but a thought. How to think and how to visually tell a story. That’s what every painting does, is telling a visual story. I didn’t really teach the students, I guided them. I freed them, but I also demanded a lot from them.

“I would let them make their mistakes, and sometimes with some of my advanced students I would put them where I knew they would make a mistake and then they could learn over time to approach it differently. I never told them most of the time, but I let them understand. “

Valuable lessons beyond art

A number of the lessons Kingcade taught in his art classes included ideas and lessons that students could use regardless of their career. They could be invaluable in everyday life, not just in painting.

Kingcade has a studio in his house but doesn’t paint every day. He is currently working on a different (larger) rendition of (this writer’s) favorite piece on his current Kemp show, “Palmyra Bawd”.

“I was driving through east Texas,” he said, “and saw a figure stuck in the ground by the side of the freeway. I really wanted to get him home, but it was from the art and it had to be where it was. He had a life there. All I changed in the art was the location and the stick. The colors and the patterns are like before.

Develop an art exhibition in high school

One of Kingcade’s most significant accomplishments in the region was developing art exhibits for high school students in the early 1970s.

Kingcade began to become active with high school students who held art exhibitions in the early 1970s at the (old) North Texas Federal Savings and Loan Gallery (near Maplewood and Midwestern Pkwy) in a former Savings and Loan with a gallery.

“No one thought anyone would come to see a high school art exhibit, and there was a line of people to view the art in the gallery,” the artist said.

In the mid-1970s, MSU’s art department asked him to move the High School Art Show to MSU’s art department, as it continued to grow in popularity and was a good way to recruit student artists (a some coming from out of town). . The show continued to grow and $ 4,000 in scholarships were awarded to high school students attending MSU Texas in 2021.

Over the years, Kingcade has taught five art classes a day in high school and introduced many students to art as well as ideas that could be a part of their careers and lives.

“I see and still am in contact with people to whom I have taught art. When I retired, there were students who told me that I had taught their grandfather (s). A true story, “he said.” We added the years and there were a lot of people who came. “

Something that hadn’t been done

“I was the only teacher I knew of who took students to local shows in Graham, Burkburnett, Henrietta, Bowie and they all gained some sort of recognition at some point that motivated them. I didn’t do anything miraculous. I just did something that hadn’t been done before. I spent my time taking the kids and their work and broadening their horizons, and it often worked.

“I encouraged the kids to try new things, but I also let them know that the judges’ eyes would be keen. Young artists should make their art and hope to get a positive response. Not everyone can be an artist. If they were interested, I would let them. I would go to my office, sit and watch them. If they had any questions or needed help, they could ask me, ”Kingcade said.


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