(Posted Sept. 5, 2017)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Kurt Lattimer could work magic on any kind of canvas.
Gravestones—where his highly detailed, custom etchings captured the passions and personalities of the deceased.
The side of a building—perfect for an 80-foot long mural celebrating a town’s past, present, and potential.
Flesh—from fantastical to realistic, his tattoos transformed people into walking works of art.
Through Sept. 24, the public can view the late artist’s talents in a more traditional setting as the London Visual Arts Guild presents “Kurt Lattimer: To Be Continued” at Gallery on High, 5 E. High St., London. A reception is planned for 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 8.
The exhibit features a diverse collection of Lattimer’s art, including pencil drawings, paintings, and etchings, as well as collages of his sketches and tattoo designs. A book of his drawings from elementary school will provide perspective on how his abilities evolved.
“I hope people enjoy it and people remember him through his art. He was just so talented,” said Kim Lattimer Reeder, Kurt’s mother and a founding member of the Arts Guild.
Among the pieces on display is a drawing of actor Keanu Reeves as the movie character, John Wick. It was Lattimer’s last creation. The 2008 London High School graduate died on May 9, 2017. An interaction of medications caused his heart to fail. He was 27.
“He had a short life but a good life, especially with all he had to deal with,” said Reeder, explaining that her son battled mental health issues, including bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.
“He was so blessed. I saw how God was working in his life and putting the right people around him,” she continued. “He got to use his talents and gifts because of those people.”
Art teachers at London High School and Tolles Career & Technical Center were among those who encouraged Lattimer, as did Tim Roby of Roby’s Memorial Design and Lettering, for whom Lattimer had worked since 2012. Flesh to Fantasy in Springfield provided him with an outlet for his tattooing talents.
Lattimer also had a devoted fan in Mick Harris, owner of the building at 58 E. High St. in London on which Lattimer painted the 80-foot mural.
“I really loved the guy. He was gone too soon,” said Harris, who with his wife, Natalie, is organizing an art contest to pay tribute to Lattimer’s memory and to promote the arts among young people and the community at large.
The “Aspiring Artist” contest is open to seniors in high school in Madison County. Pencil drawings and paintings are due by Jan. 10. Local artists will judge the entries, which will be displayed at Gallery on High in February. The Harrises are donating $1,000 in prize money and hope to make the contest an annual event.
“The winner will get to replicate their art on the west side of the building where people will see it for years to come,” Harris said.
Lattimer’s mural on the building’s east side was unfinished at the time of his death. His mother, stepfather Tony Reeder, Arts Guild president Sandy Fox, and guild member Lynn Daily completed it, adding a train whose number is Lattimer’s birthday, more detail to the portrait of Bob Sommers of Cognac Farms, finishing out the American flag, and adding a silhouette of the First United Methodist Church.
Alex Gueth, one of Lattimer’s friends, also pitched in. He was one of Reeder’s art students at Clark State Community College, where Reeder teaches drawing and electronic imagery. It was Gueth who came up with a unique way to add Lattimer’s signature to the now finished mural.
“On the far left side, Alex painted a silhouette of a skateboarder—Kurt was a great skateboarder—with multiple colors coming out of his fingers. I think it’s a great testimony to who Kurt was,” Harris said.
“Kurt Lattimer: To Be Continued” opened on Aug. 31. Gallery hours are: Thursdays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; and Sundays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
For more about the London Visual Arts Guild and other upcoming exhibits, go to londonvisualartsguild.org.