Civil War art exhibit at William Woods to include local touch

"Charge at Wilson's Creek" is one of 70 oil paintings in the Impressions of the Civil War in Missouri series by Dan Woodward likely to be featured in an upcoming exhibit at William Woods University. Woodward also is working on some pieces based on the Battle of Moore's Mill to add a local touch to the exhibit, which will run Aug. 18 through Sept. 25 at the Mildred M. Cox Gallery on the William Woods campus.

"Charge at Wilson's Creek" is one of 70 oil paintings in the Impressions of the Civil War in Missouri series by Dan Woodward likely to be featured in an upcoming exhibit at William Woods University. Woodward also is working on some pieces based on the Battle of Moore's Mill to add a local touch to the exhibit, which will run Aug. 18 through Sept. 25 at the Mildred M. Cox Gallery on the William Woods campus.

Dan Woodward has spent the past three years visiting Civil War sites around the state, learning about the events and people that occurred there, and creating art based on those impressions.

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Woodward said he likes to "paint behind the scenes" of the Civil War — as in "The Drummer Boy's Pet" — and not just the battles.

That journey, which recently included a visit to Moore’s Mill in Callaway County, has resulted in “Impressions of the Civil War in Missouri,” a collection 70 sketches and oil paintings. A selection of those works will be on exhibit in the Mildred M. Cox Gallery at William Woods University Aug. 18-Sept. 25.

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"Sad News" by Dan Woodward.

There will be an opening reception from 4:30-6 p.m. on Aug. 18 and a closing reception from 4:30-6 p.m. on Sept. 25 featuring a talk by Woodward, who lives in Rolla.

Woodward said he has been working on “Impressions of the Civil War in Missouri” to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which will end in 2015. He said it got started in 2011 with a request from the Boone County Historical Society for a few paintings after he had created some at the anniversary of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek down near Springfield and grew from there.

“Each year I go to re-enactments and paint them,” Woodward said. “I did it with the theory that nobody knows about what happened in the west, when actually Missouri pretty much started the war with Kansas.

“The second battle of the war was at Wilson’s Creek, and so many people from here played an important role in the war, like (Gen. Ulysses S.) Grant,” Woodward continued. “Missouri was third in the number of battles fought, and we probably had the most terrific problems with friends fighting friends and bushwhacking.”

A Vietnam War veteran himself, Woodward said he also worked to capture things behind the scenes, such as a painting of a drummer boy playing with a puppy, or the soldiers at rest around camp and of the families left behind.

Woodward said his favorite part of working on the series has been learning more about the history of Missouri and the Civil War west of the Mississippi, including battles and events in Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and New Mexico. He said he tries to share what he has learned through his presentations.

“I’m a former teacher, so for me it always comes back to education,” Woodward said, noting his work has received more attention from historical groups than from art galleries. “It’s bringing people into art that might not have been interested in art, but were interested in history.”

Nicole Petrescu, gallery coordinator at the Mildred M. Cox Gallery, said she is looking forward to meeting Woodward and talking to him about his work — particularly the community aspect.

“He is adapting his project as he meets the community — his art changes depending on the community itself,” Petrescu said, noting Woodward’s tendency to include paintings of the areas he is visiting. “We might have some absolutely unique items to show our visitors when the time comes.”

Petrescu said that community connection is what she is most excited about for the art itself as well.

“These are events that happened in Missouri, these are applied history imagery,” she said, noting one of her favorite pieces is a painting of cavalry from the Battle of Pilot Knob. “It’s the scenery, the woods — it reminds me of what I love about Missouri — it’s just gorgeous, the colors are super warm.”

Examples of Woodward’s work can be seen on his website, www.woodwardartstudio.com.

The Mildred M. Cox Gallery is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free.

Katherine Cummins can be reached at (573) 826-2418 or katherine@fultonsun.com.

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