John Holcomb


This blog is focused on the creation of original artworks by Kansas outsider artist John Holcomb,

Panda Painting – Works of Heart 2015 Gift Spotlight

Family Service and Guidance Center • Topeka, Kansas
Works of Heart 2015

For the past 5 years I have donated a gift of custom artwork to Works of Heart – a fundraiser for the Family Service and Guidance Center. I’m given a list of poems written by kids who are assisted through the Center’s programs. The Center serves at-risk children with development disabilities and their families. The Works of Heart event puts the spotlight directly on the kids for an evening and shares their artistic successes with the Topeka community through a charitable dinner and auction event.

I have chosen poems with a variety of topics – a family of Teddy Grahams, using binoculars to spy on neighbors (in a totally innocent way, this kid was hilarious), purple hippos and pink zebras and loving mom to the moon and back. 

This year’s poem is about a girl and her pet dog ... or maybe it's a pet panda. Here’s the poem:
My dog is a panda.
It is black and white.
People think I’m crazy cause I own a panda.
It runs like a dog but eats bamboo.
It chases its tail like a tornado never ends.
But then again, it is not a panda – it’s my friend. 

This event is always a wild one, but its heart is in the right place. I never know what to expect. At the start, alongside the kid, we both stand next to the painting for “hors d’oeuvre and mingling” time. Hundreds of people wander by and inquire about the work. So far 3 of the 4 kids and I have felt the same – a little out-of-place in a crowd of fancy adults. They nervously fidget about, unsure of what to say as they're asked questions. Sometimes they say nothing – I can totally relate to them in this moment – so I do all I can to make sure they are the focal point (it’s not about me). The other kid I've worked with was wild – he just preferred to run laps around the entire room and return only to punch me. I would have preferred to do that too, so I guess we’re 4/4 in me feeling the same as the kids.

For the main event, the kids take the stage with the art – many kids auction off their own artistic creations – and hold it up for the bidding war. They love this part, true joy is on their face as they hear the numbers rise. All the money raised for the event is put back into Family Service and Guidance Center. 

While the Family Service and Guidance Center assists the children daily, at every Works of Heart event I can tell what I do has meant more to the child’s parents. I can see the pride they have in their kid, and how for one night their child is a “rock star." I am glad I can give that to them. Art is a gift that serves its purpose only if it's passed on. 

Painting details: 20" x 20" acrylic and oil pastel on cotton canvas. Framed by the artist. I made the custom frame for it as well.