Be Bold

For Calee Wilson, art becomes a means for togetherness.

Art becomes the shared property of all who experience it. The impressions that a piece inspires, which can span the range of human emotions, can uplift or drive to introspection, entertain and embolden, and represent a moment shared between artist and observer

Public art, especially murals, quickly becomes landmarks for this very reason. Some examples, such as San Francisco’s Mission District murals, or Berlin’s East Side Gallery, have become world famous, and synonymous with their cities. Practically all cities have public art pieces that exemplify their zest, character, and cultural soul, however, from large to small, colorful to staid, and everything in between.

Murals abound in Fort Worth. Simply take a drive through downtown, near southside, or westside Fort Worth, and you’ll find dozens of examples. One piece in particular, of a colorful, whimsical cow, has appeared to delight viewers and provide opportunities for photo-ops. Located at Clarity Homes at 3605 El Campo Avenue, the cow has also graced the cover of this magazine. Be Bold, the cow tells us, and inspires viewers through its striking color and profound, dreamy expression.

The creation of local artist Calee Wilson, the cow stands as just one example of her talent and dynamic vision.  Calee, whose art, prints, and designs are available to view and purchase at www.caleewilsondesign.com, got an early start on her artistic journey. Despite this, she did not plan on becoming a career artist, and instead went into education.

“My mom was an art teacher, so I grew up always doing artsy things at home,” says Calee. “I wound up majoring in education, though, and taught high school English. Later on, I taught art at Southwest High School here in Fort Worth.”

This taste of art as a career left a deep impression on Calee. After the birth of her child, she began to create art out of her home. The lessons from her mother, along with an ample portion of self-taught experimentation, inspired a style that’s equal parts abstract and true to life.

“I work mainly in acrylics, with lots of heavy texture,” says Calee. “Though it’s drawn from life, with lots of animals, my art does not look like still life. It’s colorful and abstract, and every piece has its own personality.”

Calee’s art also bridges the gap between public and private, as she has made her services available for in-home décor. A new collection, called Piper’s Pals after Calee’s daughter, features animals and designs intended for children’s playrooms and nurseries.

“Piper’s Pals will be available as both originals and prints,” says Calee. “I also do a lot of custom pieces for people’s homes, and can do murals on walls, or designs on wood signs, canvas; I pretty much will paint on anything.”

The popularity of Calee’s cow mural comes not just from its artistry and playfulness – it also captures something important about Fort Worth. While many public art pieces serve to broadcast an individual vision to a wider audience, Calee’s mural instead showcases something of the city itself.

“I grew up in Fort Worth, and I feel that it’s a very relational place,” says Calee. “You feel like you’re in a small town, and that you really know people. I love doing art for people, and want to create pieces that make people happy and that bring people together. I feel like togetherness is what Fort Worth is all about, and the people here are what inspire me.”

What began as an eyesore – an empty wall, devoid of character and appeal – has become a “relational object,” a bold artistic statement that brings people together and inspires joy. That’s a big accomplishment for a colorful cow, and testament to the talent of her creator.