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Friday, June 14, 2024

Start with Art

One of the greatest pleasures of editing this magazine is connecting with people living in all corners of Evansville and across Southwestern Indiana and Western Kentucky. I’m continually motivated by the talent, creativity, and zeal our communities hold.

In the early days of publishing Evansville Living, I discovered the art of Nikki Pritchett as a fount of inspiration. I first saw Nikki’s paintings — described by the self-taught artist as “whimsical, funky, colorful, and energetic” and an “original take on the familiar” — at one of the earliest Funk in the City events (now a twice-yearly arts festival at Haynie’s Corner). I bought a postcard size print of the Old Post Office, where our offices were located for 10 years. (Read about the Old Post Office and its twin in the Berkshires on page 20.)

Nikki’s print sits still today on my library cabinet, alongside my boys’ baby pictures, and one of two pieces of art I’ve produced in 10 years. (I also made a glass-tile plate with Grecian wave motif in Door County, Wis., a few years ago.)

More than once, Creative Director Laura M. Mathis and I have talked about incorporating Nikki’s talent on our cover. When the Best of Evansville ballot results revealed her as Best Local Artist, we knew the time was right to ask her to consider producing a piece of art. The trick was to make the ask with a “wink” — traditionally our Best of Evansville award winners don’t know they’ve won until the magazine is released. Nikki was persuaded and the result is a 30-inch by 40-inch canvas of her interpretation of Evansville’s best, in her signature style of curvy lines and bold colors. To represent herself, Nikki painted in a canvas covered with one of her favorite architectural subjects, the historic Alhambra Theatre currently being restored. Art Director Heather Gray completed the finishing touches, adding the actual type of our nameplate and cover lines. Nikki says she plans to complete the painting she’ll likely keep by painting in the Evansville Living nameplate and cover type. (Read about Nikki’s painting process on page 16).

Nikki’s art makes us happy. We hope her cover painting brightens your spirits, too — it’s a cheerful sight for winter-weary eyes.

New to the January/February issue is an annual feature, “In Memoriam.” Managing Editor Victoria Grabner presented this idea for a story after she was inspired by Marilyn Johnson’s book, “The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries.” Johnson, a former obituary writer, explains her premise in the book:

“The New York Times comes each morning and never fails to deliver news of the important dead. Every day is new; every day is fraught with significance. I arrange my cup of tea, prop up my slippers. Obituaries are history as it is happening. Whose time am I living in? Was he a success or a failure, lucky or doomed, older than I am or younger? Did she know how to live? I shake out the pages. Tell me the secret of a good life!”

Victoria saw an opportunity for Evansville Living to look at the lives our community lost last year, and share their accomplishments and anecdotes. Her source was the daily obituaries appearing in the Courier & Press. It was very difficult selecting the stories to tell. Though our intent could not be to present a list of all who died last year, we learned through the research process how much the lives of local people portray our community. In the story titled, “The Living Record” (page 26), I believe you’ll see people you knew and whose passing you grieved, as well as meet people you wish you knew, but whose legacy impacts our lives.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Kristen K. Tucker
Publisher & Editor

Read “300 Words,” the editor’s blog, at evansvilleliving.com/blog, each week.

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