We all expect the holiday season to make us busier but for Mobile artist Yevette Ward, it’s about to get downright frenetic. The diminutive dynamo will have her handiwork in a quartet of local showplaces that should keep her working through the fast-approaching new year.
“I’ve been trying for years and it’s all kind of weird,” Ward said. “It all just started happening in the last few months, you know?”
Beginning Dec. 2, Ward’s paintings will appear at Firehouse Wine Bar on St. Francis. The new business has become a popular downtown destination and Ward’s abstract takes of Mobile’s skyline compliment its urbane vibe.
Ten days later she has pop ups in two more downtown spots. One is Optera (5 N. Jackson St.) where her sizable study of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception will be center stage. Commissioned by a local, it has taken the majority of a year to complete.
“It’s 8 feet by 4 feet, three panels,” Ward said. “I’ve got a bunch of studies, too.” She counted them 15 or more.
Joining it on the walls will be other local landmarks by her hand.
There’s a premiere during the December LoDa Artwalk and a smaller affair a few days later.
Her handiwork will be on display at Gallery 450, the multi-function space across from the Haberdasher on Dauphin. She and other artists share their gallery with a realty team and the funky and eclectic Lunatix & Co.
Did we forget she’s also bought her way into Artology, a gallery facing Cathedral Square? That’s been since June.
“I’m having another show in Spring Hill at Portier House,” Ward said. “That show is part of a group show on Dec. 7.”
It’s not that she hasn’t been trying.
“I’ve had a lot of other job offers before, to run other galleries but a lot of things fell through with those other galleries,” Ward said. She had other chances but fate intervened.
“I graduated from (the University of ) South Alabama with a BFA in ’91,” Ward said. “I went to New Orleans and worked for CBS, Crescent City Pictures.”
A catastrophic motor accident put her in the hospital and through major surgery. She still acknowledges it could have been worse.
Ward returned to Mobile, exhibited at the now-defunct Arts Blanche and taught at the Eastern Shore Arts Center. She worked at Fairhope’s Page and Palette.
“I was at Bancroft Gallery in Fairhope but Ivan shut it down,” Ward said. “When the recession hit I did more shows in Louisiana. Did a show in New Orleans right after Katrina, did one in Algiers, one at Oak Alley.”
Ward moved in at the relocated Blue Velvet Studio in Church Street District. Opportunity waned.
“I was living upstairs using their studio space and I participated in a few shows but it just kind of petered out and they haven’t been very active,” Ward said.
Ward hustled. She still managed shows in Michigan during a ten-day women’s festival. She also started a painting business.
Then the commission arrived. The size was a difficulty.
“I couldn’t paint the big painting (at Blue Velvet) so I came over here to Mr. John’s, to his garage and he told me to stay over here so I could work.” Ward said.
This show isn’t the last time she’ll be working on downtown houses of worship. Her benefactors have ordered more.
“I was about to move out and they said they want two more paintings. I’m doing Government Street, one downtown and then that one across from the Shell station, that Episcopal church,” Ward said. “I’ll do those two next year and they’ll go in Optera in December for next year’s ‘Then and Now.’”
Will she be as busy then? She said material isn’t in short supply.
“I’ve always been creative,” Ward said. “It’s just a part of who I am.”
She never mentions tenacity or resourcefulness but her presence says it for her.