Organizers with the annual Art in the Park at the George Washington Carver National Monument are gearing up for the annual event, to be held Saturday, April 26.

The event is free of charge and open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“The main purpose of Art in the Park is to celebrate George Washington Carver’s love of art,” said Curtis Gregory, park ranger at the monument. “A lot of visitors don’t realize that his first interest was art, which he would have learned here when it was the Carver farm. He didn’t pursue a professional career as an artist, but he painted for his entire life as a hobby. The event is to celebrate his love of art. We invite artists to come out and create.”

Plein air artists will set up along the trail, capturing the beauty of the woodlands, prairie and streams.

“Visitors can come and watch them, observe, but that is what the whole event is about,” he said. “It is just about artists coming out. We also have a few workshops. We will have a tent called the ‘budding artists’ for kids. It is just a celebration of his love of art.”

Children’s activities include working with natural dyes and painting color swatches. At 11 a.m., there will be a special guest speaker.

“Each year, we try to have a artist or guest speaker that comes in. they have some sort of affiliation with GWC,” Gregory said. “This year, we have an artist and an illustrator Cheryl Harness, Independence, Mo. She wrote a children’s book on GWC several years ago and she did all of the illustrations in the book. So what she is going to talk about is about her book and the illustrations as well.”

The title of Harness’ book is “The Groundbreaking, Chance-Taking Life of George Washington Carver and Science & Invention in America.”
Visitors will also be able to check out some of Carver’s artwork he did during his lifetime.

“In the visitor’s center, we have about three or four different pieces of original artwork from GWC on display,” he said.

Background information

George was born a slave on the Moses and Susan Carver farm about 1864. When George was an infant, outlaws kidnapped him and his mother, Mary. George was later found in Arkansas and was returned to the Carvers, but his mother was never found.

Carver became famous later in life when he studied plants, flowers and invented several uses for the common peanut. He later taught at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and in 1921, he testified before a United States House Committee debating a peanut tariff bill. On Jan. 5, 1943, Carver died at Tuskegee, where he is buried. In July 1943, Congress designated George Washington Carver National Monument, which was the first park to honor an African-American scientist, educator and humanitarian.

George Washington Carver National Monument preserves the birthplace and childhood home of George Washington Carver. The monument is located two miles west of Diamond on Route V, then south a half mile on Carver Road. For more information, please call the park at 325-4151.