Arkansas Art Center Artist Spotlight: Alonzo Ford

An ongoing exhibit at the Arkansas Art Center – “A Little Poetry: The Art of Alonzo Ford” – features a variety of the artist’s work and will be open to the public for viewing until Oct. 25. Before heading to the exhibit, get to know the artist below.

Born in Lexa, Ark., Ford grew up amidst his family farm. He remembers first getting into art sometime around the 7th or 8th grade. “I started out learning how to draw on my own,” he remembers, “I would go to the library and look through different books and come back home and draw.”

He jokingly says he never had a proper job, but after farming for his whole life, Ford traveled around the country for a time, working. He says, “I never stayed at one job for too long … but I never felt that way with art. I don’t get bored with it and I’ll do it for as long as I live.”

He returned to Arkansas when his father became ill, and found more time to cultivate his craft. For a time Alonzo worked with pottery and other mediums, but truly enjoys drawing, especially with charcoal.

As far as themes go, he focuses on what he knows. “I try to draw the things I saw as a kid – farm things,” he says. With his use of color and attention to detail, Ford creates a window depicting Arkansas rural living in the 1940s. Sometimes he’ll create a serene landscape, at other times, the chores farm living requires, all the while creating images both simple and complex.

Ford recalls that people slighted his work early on. “Not everybody thought I could be an artist,” he remembers. But one woman in particular within his community – Mary Cunningham – was always happy to talk to him about art or hang various pieces of his in the local library where she worked. He never let anyone decide what he could or could not do as he says, “I just kept drawing. It’s saved my life, to draw, and I’m going to keep doing it.”

Although Ford has had work shown in various museums and libraries, he is extremely excited about exhibiting at the Arkansas Art Center. “I’ve been waiting for a big show like this,” he says laughing, “for a long time.” As far as the local art scene goes, Ford says the Arkansas Art Center is an integral element. “To see what other people have created from Arkansas and even all over the world, that’s important,” he says.

When not working on a piece, Ford enjoys growing flowers. His garden attracts much attention as he says, “People always want to stop and see my flowers.” For now, he imagines he’ll continue to cultivate his craft and see what life has yet to offer.

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