SCOTTSBLUFF —“She was just a phonemonal artist,” said Michele Denton, director at the Western Nebraska Arts Center (WNAC).
Charlotte Edwards was born in Bridgeport, Nebraska, during the Depression. She would meet her future husband in kindergarten, when she took a liking to his dog. “When they were in high school, my father would pick up my mother after school and they’d go hunting,” said Jackie Locke, Edwards’ only daughter.
Locke credited these after-school hunts as the basis of her mother’s life-long love of wildlife and birds, which would be her primary subjects when Edwards first picked up a paintbrush during her late 20’s.
Edwards started painting during the 1950s, and she focused primarily on painting duck and geese, adding pheasants later on. “I remember, when we were growing up, she would work part time, and when she came home from work, she would clean and cook dinner,” said Locke. “Then she would paint all night, sleep for maybe an hour, and go to her job in the morning.”
Edwards struggled to make art in a male-dominated field, but she joined a number of art clubs after she moved in 1964, and started to gain popularity.
The 1970s brought on a wave of success, and as her name gained a bit more renown, she began to win prizes, including her first blue ribbon in a profession wildlife show in 1977. She was named one of the top 100 painters during the 70s, and her paintings always sold well.
It was around this time that she met Michele Denton, then a high-school student who would volunteer her time to help artists set up for shows. “I would help Charlotte set up, and she always had a line of people waiting, and collectors too,” recalled Denton.
Edwards lived most of her life in Nebraska, with an exception of two years in Texas. When she moved back to the Bridgeport area after she retired, she and Denton would often meet up for lunch dates at a friend’s house.
After Edwards passed in January of this year, her daughter Jackie donated many of her prints and mounted frames, including 7 originals, to WNAC.
“Jackie felt that she could trust me to take care of Charlotte’s work--and I definitely will,” said Denton. “I’ve just respected Charlotte for so many years.”
Edwards’ work will be on display and for sale at a booth during Oregon Trail Days. “With each painting I give you a peek into my soul and a piece of myself,” wrote Edwards. “This offering gives me great pleasure.”