The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Setting the Soul Free: Wood, Music and Acrylics Unite for Display


January 18, 2019

Forrest Hershberger

Jim Pelster of Sidney, left, and Ron Nordyke of Chappell are displaying some of their artwork at the Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission office in downtown Sidney. The paintings and violins will be on display through Feb. 8.

They come from different viewpoints, but find a common ground to display their efforts. They are artists of different disciplines intersected at the music of the soul.

Jim Pelster of Sidney says he isn't much of a musician. He really doesn't think of himself as an artist.

To view his work, a person might argue the point. Ron Nordyke of Chappell has spent much of his professional life in or teaching art, and appreciates music. They intersect at the display windows of the Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission. It is here people can see the handmade violin, and the acrylic paintings Pelster has a history of working with wood, dating back to shop class in high school. Nordyke's history is in art; teaching and expressing what he sees in nature through acrylics.

The intersection is the intensity, the passion between a musician of a string instrument and the builder of the same instrument.

"I've been a woodworker pretty much all of my life," Pelster said.

He said he likes the challenge of working with wood. The challenge was taken up a notch when his grandchildren developed an interest in music, string instruments specifically. Each graduation forward in the discipline means a newer, different instrument. So, Pelster decided to make his grandchildren violins, and cellos, and a viola.

"They loved it," he says.

The instruments are art because they are handmade. They are the result of hours of research, study and passion as Pelster spent extensive time learning the instrument's design, how they are built and why and purpose. He has made other wood projects including crucifixes for First Communions.

"If there's something to be made, I make it," he said.

Nordyke says he loves music, but he doesn't consider himself a musician. His passion is of the visual arts, what he sees in nature and how passion interacts with it.

"I've always painted what I liked," he said.

Much of his inspiration is from the Central United States. He says he paints what he knows. He has a degree in art, but didn't paint for about 25 years.

"You have to have a dream or vision," he said.

In 1992 he started teaching art, and in 1999 he started painting again. He said it was difficult to teach what he doesn't practice.

Nordyke said passion and emotion is what puts value into a piece of art. He said he has seen singers who are very good at their ability, but left him feeling, well, "blah." At the same time, there are others who are not known for their singing ability but connect with the emotions to such an extent it causes goosebumps, even a tear.

Nordyke says of all the subjects he paints, human portraits are the most demanding. It is often a challenge of capturing the physique and the personality. He said a person can adjust how they sit and change their entire presentation.

Nordyke and Pelster agreed that art, producing something that takes heart and hands, also takes learning by mistakes.

"I go a lot by failure,' Nordyke said.

Pelster added he has a lot of wood scraps from failures, failure that were also valuable lessons. Aa turning point is when he won a Grand Champion award in the 2017 Cheyenne County Fair for a violin he made.

Works by Nordyke and Pelster will be on display at the Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission in Sidney through Feb. 8.

To learn more about the Cheyenne County Art Guild, contact Ron Nordyke at [email protected]


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