Christine’s gentle vision, talent win top art awards

Christine's gentle vision, talent win top art awards
She paints, she draws, she sketches. She's been doing it for many decades, but residing in a care center hasn't slowed down Yankton native Christine "Chris" Cook. At 92 years young, Chris, a self-taught artist who now happily resides at the Sanford Vermillion Care Center, still remains very much involved in the art world.

She recently won first- and second-place awards for two paintings that were in the South Dakota Health Care Association's Dakota Masterworks Art Show in Sioux Falls. The show celebrated the art talents of those ages 60 and over. Chris was able to attend the awards reception to receive her awards.

Chris' love for art began back in her childhood when she would "doodle" pictures of faces in her elementary school days in the 1920s. She has moved far beyond simple doodles to full portraits, beautiful landscapes, farm scenes and much more. She has also ventured into many mediums beyond mere pencil sketching. She uses acrylic paints, chalks, colored pencils, pastels, oils paints and other media.

One of her favorites is watercolors. This past summer, she had many of her watercolor paintings on display and for sale at the historic G.A.R. Hall Art Gallery in Yankton. She has also had artwork at exhibitions in five- and seven-state juried competitions. (A "juried" competition is one in which professional artists serve as the judges.) And like her recent awards recognition in Sioux Falls, Chris has experienced the joy of receiving numerous other awards for her artwork in the past.

Chris has sold hundreds of her pieces, particularly so in the past 25 years since the death of her husband, Kenneth, a Volin native. As much as it hurt to have him gone,Turn to chris on Page 10

it "freed her up," Chris said, to dedicate herself even more to her passion to create beauty on a canvas. Chris has enjoyed traveling, visiting art galleries and meeting with other artists who allowed her to get her works displayed and sold at art festivals and art shows.

The first 60-plus years of her life were not so. Her need to paint and create had to "take a back seat" to school, work, marriage and tending to the needs of three children and a husband. She also has nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Chris reminisces about sneaking downstairs at 3 a.m. to grab some time at her easel.

"But pretty soon, I'd hear some little footsteps on the stairs and see little heads peekin' around the corner. I couldn't get away with it. They thought it was morning and time to get up."

Chris has resided at the Sanford Care Center Vermillion since August of 2006. She has turned her room into a little art studio. The looks of a studio are evident everywhere with works in progress, brushes, pastels, photos, canvasses, etc. – all laying in wait for her to resume work on the latest project. Often times, a staff member or visitor will stop in to see Chris and she is doing what she loves – drawing or painting. She has done many portraits from photographs for staff members.

Her resilience and ability to find ways to continue doing what she loves is a testimony to her determination. "Getting up there in years" and the health issues that can accompany that aren't stopping Chris. She is a bright spot in the care center to others around her. Her artwork has brought satisfaction to her life for many years; now she and her work are bringing joy and pleasure to those whose lives she touches at the care center. May she have many more projects spring forth from her mind and heart to her canvas.

Chris' winning paintings will now be part of a traveling exhibit that go from Sioux Falls to Black Hills State University in Spearfish and then back to Pierre in time to be displayed on Jan. 22, 2008, at the Ramkota Hotel during a legislative reception. Her winning artwork can be viewed online at under the SDHCA Dakota Masterworks link.

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