Artist Wilmer Wallace recently paid homage to the Columbia County church he helped start.
The 90-year-old Augusta man recently completed a 25-by-22-inch oil painting of Christ Church, Presbyterian, which was constructed in 2007.
The Evans church today will unveil the painting as it plays host to "The Art and Heart of Wilmer Wallace," featuring 25 of Wallace's works spanning from the early 1940s through 2010.
"I think it's better than what I thought I was going to get," said Wallace, who admitted to changing the sky in the painting of the church four times. "I think it has a mystical feel about it, too."
Wallace's newest work marks one of many in which a church is the focal point. In the past, Wallace has painted churches in Augusta, including First Presbyterian, Union Baptist Church and Sacred Heart, in addition to well-known churches in Charleston, S.C., and Washington, D.C.
"They're such good landmarks," Wallace said. "Some of them have been there for so long."
In the 1940s, Wallace studied art at the University of Georgia under the guidance of Dr. Lamar Dodd, whom he considers a father figure.
While serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Wallace was sent to Washington, D.C., to design charts that helped commanding officers track fighter planes.
After moving to Augusta in 1948, Wallace started designing boxes and overlays for a company named Fine Products, which produced candies.
Wallace put his art career on hold to support his family while working as a State Farm insurance agent for 40 years.
"He just didn't paint at all when we were children," said his daughter, Dianne Dome.
When he retired from the job in 1995, his passion for art was rekindled.
"For years, I felt like I had something to give," he said.
Landscapes, still-life images and portraits have captivated Wallace's attention. Having completed about 75 paintings, Wallace said he gave most of his earliest works to family members and friends.
"We'll be driving around," Dome said. "It's just whatever captures his eye. He'll be looking at how he can make a painting out of it."
Church has always been an important part of Wallace's life. For 50 years, he attended First Presbyterian in Augusta, where he served as a deacon and elder.
Wallace took his time with his painting of Christ Church, Presbyterian, which holds a special meaning for him. With meticulous attention to detail, he even made sure the gable vent on the church's steeple was precise.
"The church also thought it was real appropriate, because he was one of the founding fathers of the church," Dome said. "He's got a picture of him and mother breaking ground there with shovels."
The art show will be 2:30- 5:30 p.m. today at the church, 4201 Southern Pines Drive near Furys Ferry Road.
The public is invited to attend the event, which is aimed at adults.
In 2003, several of Wallace's works, including award-winning pieces, were shown during an exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art at UGA.
"We're just so excited for him and so proud of him," Dome said. "He's just so modest and humble about his paintings.
"It's exciting to see him get some recognition in Augusta."
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