Painter finds new purpose in life

Williams Mayor Alfred Sellers, right, looks over the work of artist JP Powell,left, on Saturday at the Williams Community Center. The show was sponsored by the Heath Disease Fund named after Eddie Johnson, center.

JP Powell’s art is colorful, but underneath lacquer, neon, and glow-in-the-dark paint is wood that is finding a second purpose.

Powell’s first official showing of his work was held Saturday at the Williams Community Center, with a trickle of people gazing over his collection throughout most of the summer’s first hot day.

“His work is pretty interesting,” said Williams Mayor Alfred Sellers, who ultimately settle on purchasing a panel of fencing for his yard.

Powell isn’t an artist by trade, but was a longtime sign painter and graphic artist who suffered a serious injury to his back.

“I really couldn’t do much,” he said. “I just kind of had to start all over in life. I found out you can do so much with so little, if you’re looking.”

What Powell found were old palettes and wood destined for the trash heap.

“I started collecting the wood, tearing it up, and slowly started trying to make a living,” he said.

Powell moved to Williams from the Yuba City area about four years ago to be closer to family. He was a longtime umpire for recreation softball in Colusa, so he said he’s always like the area.

Not only does he paint on wood for the purpose of wall art, but also converts pallets into benches and chests and other functional items.

Much of his work is multidimensional: A combination of color and light, with a uniqueness acquired through the use of bright and glowing paint.

Popular in the 1960s and 1970s, the art medium regained popularity in the 21st century.

“You can tell I’m a product of the 70s,” he said. “I really like the neon effect.”

Viewing Powell’s art is a multi-sensory experience – seeing something slightly different when the light hits it than when dark – as the neon and glow paint interacts with the subject of the piece.

“It’s almost like a second painting,” he said.

The Eddie Johnson Heart Disease Fund sponsored Powell’s show, entitled “Re-Kreated Imperfection.”

Former Williams City Councilman Eddie Johnson established the fund through the Community Foundation of Colusa County, after he suffered a near fatal heart attack.

The fund supports outreach and education at various community events about heart health, proper nutrition, and exercise, Johnson said.

Johnson’s longterm plan is to partner with existing programs to establish a mobile outreach unit to reach more people in the rural area with information about heart heath and heart disease, and provide basic heart monitoring and checkups.

Johnson’s next event will be at the Mexican Independence Day celebration in Williams in September. Powell’s work will also be on display at the event.