For artist and Tallahassee native, Eluster Richardson, the natural beauty and vast landscape of the Tallahassee area has always been something he believed worth showcasing.
Now the public has the opportunity to view his perspective in the “From the Forgotten Coast to the Red Hills” collection in The Phipps Gallery at The Tallahassee Museum. The collection will run from the month of February to April 30.
Growing up on tenant farmland, Richardson picked up his first set of paint brushes in the third grade once he discovered his love for North Florida. Since then, Richardson has done what he described as a calling from a higher power. With over 40 years of experience, he said all the time fulfilling his passion has made this moment all the more meaningful.
“It’s been a long journey and I’m glad I lived to see my work recognized. All the hard work, late nights, early mornings trying to fulfill that passion,” expressed Richardson. “I’ve been chasing my passion and now my passion is chasing me.”
The inspiration behind the collection was a result of both Richardson’s upbringing and travels throughout the Forgotten Coast and Red Hills Region. The Forgotten Coast refers to the coastline which stretches from Mexico Beach on the Gulf of Mexico to St. Marks on Apalachicola Bay. The Red Hills refers to the 300,000-acre area located between Thomasville, Georgia and Tallahassee which is known for the historic resources, biological diversity and scenic beauty.
Featured in the collection are two new paintings which portray the aftermath of Hurricane Michael on the surrounding areas. Richardson noted the importance of taking care of the environment due to the unpredictable outcomes of natural disasters.
“Well I’m from Tallahassee and I always want to bring a light on the beautiful streams, lakes, ponds and all of the beautiful surroundings that we have here in Tallahassee because it will change in a second,” noted Richardson. “We witnessed that through (Hurricane)_ Michael. It’s there one day and of course the next day it’s gone.”
Though his preferred medium is watercolor, Richardson is experienced in pencil and oil. Richardson’s work has won numerous accolades and his paintings have been featured in places such as The Museum of Florida History, Lemoyne Art Foundation, Florida State Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian. Currently, Richardson serves as the Artist-in-Residence for the Riley House Museum and Resource Center of African-American History and Culture.
For those who want to view Richardson’s work, the location of the actual exhibit will more than likely provide a tangible example. Located at 3945 Museum Drive, The Tallahassee Museum is a non-profit institution which features historic buildings, native animals and cultural exhibits aimed to educate the community about the Big Bend’s culture and natural environment.
Director of Marketing and Membership Kerri Whitfield said she wanted more citizens in the community to explore the museum and learn more about the local area. She explained how the museum strived on being informative and inclusive on the contributions made throughout the history of the Big Bend.
“For us it’s encompassing the Florida native animals, it’s encompassing the culture,” stated Whitfield. “[What’s] really important to us is our ties to our community and what we’re providing into the community and what our community provides to us.”
Highlighting local artists like Richardson is something Lacey Ballinger felt was important when discussing the black perspective of North Florida. As the Director of Collections and Exhibitions for the museum, she affirmed how learning about Black History should not only be regulated to February.
“Black History should be told throughout the year, not just one month, it’s history,” explained Ballinger. “That’s why we wanted to open this exhibit with a black artist to begin the story of black history and recognize that this is a year long process and start with an artist who can tell a story.”