The Coutts Museum of Art said “thank you” to its volunteers at its 2012 Volunteer Recognition Thursday evening.

The Coutts Museum of Art said “thank you” to its volunteers at its 2012 Volunteer Recognition Thursday evening.

“Thank you all who volunteer so many hours during the year,” said Rod Seel, museum director.

He said they estimated 1,536 hours were volunteered this past year.

He went on to recognize several groups of volunteers.

The first group recognized was those who have volunteered one to 25 hours this past year. Those included Audine Balman, Nancy Basquez, Betty Carlson, Sherry Clymer, Dan Demo, Alice Farmer, Jean Fry, Sherry Hermreck, Helen Joyce, Lindsay Mills, Connie Phillips, Diane Poeschel, Rick Scott, Mike Siewart, Joe Sundgren, Kelsey Sundgren, Mark Utech, Marie Waltman, Bill Walton, Connie Walton and Frank Wise.

Those recognized for volunteering 26 to 49 hours were Dick Albright, Gayle Arnett, Mike Arnett, Pat Bailey, Vicki Bailey, Jennifer Callaway, Jackie Clark, Mary K. Connell, Brance Crawford, Mary Martha Good, Marilyn Hall, Bill Kloeblen, Linda Lutz, Gene Rush, Jack Sanders, Jeremy Sundgren, Nita Whiteman and Susan Worrell.

Those volunteering 50 to 74 hours were Joyce Demo, Betty Kirkpatrick and Linda Sanders.

Those volunteering 75 hours and above were Rudy Bollig, Jim Clements, Dania Crawford, Dana Hassett and Mary Binford Miller.

“We’re very appreciative of the time these folks put in,” Seel said.

Seel went on to recognize a group of people who have done special things for the museum this past year. The first was Ramon Criss, who takes care of the landscaping and groundskeeping on the Coutts property located at 12th Avenue and Country Club Road.

Next, Dan and Joyce Demo were recognized.

“They almost always provide beverages at no charge and many times provide a bartender,” Seel said.

Jeremy and Joe Sundgren also were recognized for their auction services they provide.

Also recognized were Jim and Connie Phillips, who provided a special donation to the museum to help kick off the projects with the building next door that was gifted to the museum.

Harold and Linda Harmon of Walters Flowers and Interiors were thanked for always providing centerpieces and floral arrangements for events, often without even being asked.

Artists Clements, Dana Hassett and Binford Miller also were recognized for the paintings they donated for the Coutts fundraiser this past year.

Finally, Seel presented some special awards.

Vicki Bailey, Crawford and Worrell were “Captains of Chaos,” a recognition for their work leading the committee to organize the first murder mystery dinner theater at the Coutts this year.

The Director of the Year Award went to Linda Sanders for writing and directing the murder mystery.

Dick Albright received the Mr. Fix It/Build It Award for all of the work he does at the museum.

Power Plumber went to Gene Rush for his work at the museum.

The Saturday Sitter of the Year Award went to Kirkpatrick.

“Several of you put in some Saturdays as museum attendant,” Seel said. “We very much appreciate those who give up their Saturday afternoons to do that.”

He said it is one of the easiest jobs and they are always in need of more people to help.

“It helps keep the museum open on Saturdays,” he said.

The final award went to the Volunteer of the year.

“He drives in 50 miles when he comes in to help, then drives 50 miles home,” Seel said.

The volunteer was Bollig.

“He is always here when we need him,” Seel said.

“I want to thank everyone of you who have volunteered your time. There are so many ways people are involved with the museum and we’re glad you’re here.”

The evening concluded with the Members Night with Artist Phil Epp.

Epp talked about his influences and his art during a PowerPoint presentation.

“Most of my paintings deal with open spaces, treeless plains,” he said.

He showed some pictures of his home and the view from his house showing the open plains.

“I suppose this is a big influence on what I paint today,” he said.

He went on to talk about his influences.

“I’ve had lots of influences,” Epp said.

In addition to other artists, he also is influenced by the clouds and sky.

“I’m not totally a realist,” he said, adding that contemporary art also is an influence.

Horses also are an influence.

“I’ve been around horses most of my life,” he said. “Horses pop up in my work and my interests.

“I can’t help but be influenced by the Flinthills.”

He also said he looks for more than just those pretty images.

Looking at his paintings, he just finished a series on dome-shaped paintings, which he said he did to break up the format of his paintings.

“I’ve done several hundred paintings and I don’t want to do the same ones over,” he said.

His favorite thing to paint is horses with the sky in the distance.

“Clouds come from isolation growing up,” he said. “When I was young and painted, I realized most artists hurried through the clouds and never gave it much attention.”

He took the time to give clouds more attention.

He has shown his work in Taos and Santa Fe for many years.

But he got his start with paint by numbers, finding he enjoyed painting.

“It was really something I could do well,” he said. “I realized I could kind of draw.”

He said he still doesn’t think of himself as talented though.

“I think I have persevered,” he said, “and I have a good idea. My strength is design and ideas. My weakness is probably color. That just doesn’t interest me. I want a strong structure.”

He went on to talk about his etchings.

“I look for icons that represent different things,” he said. “When I do an etching I don’t have any of the same rules as when I do a painting.”

He makes his etchings on a copper plate.

Epp also does sculptures.

“I’ve done a little bronze just for the fun of it,” he said.

He also has done some public work.

“I’ve done quite a bit of public work,” he said.

His latest was for the Kansas Star Casino and Event Center. He also has work in the medical center in Newton and painted the mural in the alley beside the Coutts building.

He concluded his talk with his trip to Kazakhstan, which was a part of the old Russia and is the ninth largest country in the world size wise.

“The art was so different,” he said. “It totally opened my eyes to a different way of seeing.”

One of the most interesting parts of the trip for him was the rural aspects of the country.

“I think I’m lucky to get to do what I do and I try to stay fired up about it,” Epp said “If your working only to sell, what you’re selling is an uninspired piece of art.”

He said he is fortunate because he is in a position now to get to do more of what he wants to do.

“I find out they’re more successful,” he said. “Try to stay true to what you think you ought to be working on.”