This month’s art exhibit at the Zachary Branch Library includes a collection of work by three generations of Kathleen Mills Davis’ family.
Davis, who was born and bred in Zachary, said she only agreed to submit some paintings for her own exhibit if she could submit artwork by her children and grandchildren.
The collection of paintings in “Khaki and Kin” includes lovely florals, lots of cool cows and all kinds of neat stuff, and the children’s work portrays a maturity beyond their years, said Nancy Lockett, a teen services librarian at the Zachary Library.
The exhibit’s name comes from her grandchildren’s nickname for her.
“When they couldn’t pronounce ‘grandmother’ as babies, we went for Kathleen, but that came out as ‘Khaki’ and it just stuck,” she said.
Two of Davis’ daughters — Kathleen Davis Pourciau, of Baton Rouge, and Maggie Davis Dawson, of Clinton — submitted hand-tinted photographs and paintings, respectively, and six of her 47 grandchildren submitted work.
“The library loves to support local artists who have access to books and other reference materials to help them in researching their subjects, so they can grow and improve as artists but also by providing a venue for them to share their work with the community,” Assistant Library Director Mary Stein said of Davis’ family exhibit.
Davis’ oldest grandchild is 22 and her youngest is 11 months.
Grandchildren Davis, Noah and Emma Mae Pourciau, of Baton Rouge, entered drawings and sketches into the exhibit; Walter and Ingrid Nan Hogue, of Jasper, Alabama, submitted charcoal drawings and miniature watercolors; and John Dan Davis Jr., of Waco, Texas, submitted pen and ink drawings.
“All of my six children have really close relationships,” said Davis. “One of my daughters, Rose, has 11 children, and all of my grandchildren were or are homeschooled. They reside in Baton Rouge, Clinton, Alabama, Georgia and Texas.
One of her granddaughters is Bonnie Kate Pourciau-Zoghbi, who was injured during the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in 2012.
“She still has bone and nerve pain and is facing a difficult time ahead, but she’s a Christian and has forgiven,” Davis says of her granddaughter.
“What makes this exhibit so unique is that Davis and a number of her grandchildren have created it,” Lockett said. “There are so many layers to Kathleen, stories beneath stories, that it just adds other dimensions to her paintings.”
Davis, who began painting about 16 years ago after taking lessons from well-known area artist Della Storms, says she is basically self-taught.
“After the first lesson, I thought, ‘This is fun,’ so I kept at it,” Davis said. “My style is loose and free and fun, and in no way is it considered fine art, but I paint things that people can put on their back porches, pieces that are colorful, whimsical and vibrant.”
All of her paintings are created using acrylics, and a series of cows, goats and roosters that she calls the barnyard collection were inspired from the cattle that her father and brothers raised as dairymen in the Plains. Her collection of butterflies and florals were inspired from her own garden.
“Painting has been very therapeutic for me,” said Davis, who was widowed in 1976 after her husband, his brother and father were murdered in Brazil. “So is gardening. I love doing both.”
Davis, who overcame stage 4 liver cancer a few years ago and discovered within two weeks of being cancer-free of the liver that she had breast cancer, has been cancer-free, again, for about a year.
“My paintings are more colorful now, my colors more bold, more vivid,” Davis said. “Everything I paint now seems to celebrate life more.”