Historic art center takes new name

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A longtime Paris art booster’s family is providing the new name for the county’s art gallery.

The announcement of the rebranding to The Link Art Gallery — formerly the Bicentennial Art Center — was made during the art gallery’s first ever fashion show Thursday, Feb. 7, in Reed Hall at the First Baptist Church in Paris.

Link Art Gallery board president Tom Hebermehl — who was also a model for the evening — made the announcement. Hebermehl emphasized the new name was selected because of the legacy the late Paxson Link left to the community in honor of his wife, Louise.

Link provided the art center with the historic Alexander House for its home in honor of his wife, an accomplished artist in her own right. The oldest brick home in Edgar County, the Alexander House hosted many lawyers and politicians in the 1800s including the eventual 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln as well as U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas, who courted one of the Alexander daughters.

Horace Link — Paxson Link’s father — purchased the house in 1919 and it was used as a funeral home for many years before it was donated as a new home for the county’s only art gallery in the late 1970s.

“Artists love this building and gallery. It is certainly a draw for our community and county,” Hebermehl said. “However, we realize some renovations must be completed. We want to do more to make the gallery a place for receptions and other events.”

The first project is the renovation of the building’s kitchenette and storeroom. “There’s just nothing to work with for a caterer to use,” board member Cindy Belt explained following the style show. The storeroom also is in desperate need of a makeover, she said.

“Artists love our center and it is a true gallery,” Hebermehl said in making the announcement. The current show features art work from all Edgar County schools. Students created birthday cards for Abraham Lincoln, Hebermehl said.

Visitors are always welcome at the gallery, he said urging those in attendance Thursday evening to stop by and not only enjoy the student art work but also study the proposed logos for the gallery, created by board member Tiffany Gale.

Thursday’s style show featured something for women, men and children and all sized models. Cindy Belt, who was in charge of the evening, said it was important to highlight local businesses and what they have to offer. Featured were clothes from Stephanie Hoeffken McKenna of Bee Sweet Boutique, Maddie McCarty of Ol’ Hairitage Beauty and Boutique, Courtney Hughes of Plus Boutique, Jeremiah Lee of Paris Rural King, Gwen Gosnell of Simply Irresistible and Paris Wal-Mart.

Master of ceremonies for the evening was Sally Whitehurst of Terre Haute, assistant vice-president of marketing for Terre Haute First Financial Bank.

“We wanted to keep things informal so everyone could move around,” Belt said.

In addition to the fashion show, light appetizers were provided by Joanie Smith from Front Street Market in Hume.

Fashions featured for the evening emphasized clothes that could be worn now and into spring. They ranged from an all-cotton black and white swing dress, knit overalls, distressed jeans and leggings in black and denim, fashion jewelry including stackable bracelets, lightweight cardigans and sweaters, leather leggings, blazers, boots and sandals, rompers, camo ensembles, carpenter pants, men’s steel toed boots, hunting pants, Columbia shirts and fossil pants, light coats, cold-shoulder tops, capes, harem pants, swing vests, Wondernation and 365Kids clothes for children, boho dresses and blouses, black velvet pants, faux fur vests and scarves.

Belt praised Janet Tyler, youth minister Trent Horner and Pastor Troy Warner of the First Baptist Church of Paris for use of the Reed Fellowship Hall. “They were wonderful to work with and it’s such a great facility,” she said.

Models for the evening were Cate and Claire Kirby, Delilah Bradley, Kloe Milbourn, Natalie Sherwood, Lanie and Lexie Sallee, Angie Griffin, Allie McCrocklin, Sue Anne Casey, Millie Arp, Barb Sinclair, Angel Templeton, Robert Morris, Tom Hebermehl, John Sanchez, Hellie Smith, Kathy Porter, Maria Horvat, Becky Kraemer and Olivia and Will Gale.

Members of the board of directors are Millie Arp, Pat Bell, Cindy Belt, Sue Anne Casey, Tiffany Gale, Peg Giesler, Tom Hebermehl, Christie Russell, Ann Staats and Susan Stafford.