Late Artist’s Work Featured At Athens County Courthouse

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A painting of local scenery by an artist with roots deeply entrenched in Athens County now has a place to be seen by area residents.

An untitled painting by Pappy Mitchell was unveiled in the stairway between the second and third floors of the Athens County Courthouse Tuesday evening by Judge L. Alan Goldsberry, Jack Oakley (the owner of the painting) and Mitchell’s friends and family.

“I’m pleased, and I’m sure my family is pleased to be able to loan this painting and represent this wonderful artist,” said Jack Oakley, who donated the painting to the Athens County Law Library.

Oakley’s father, R. Victor Oakley, commissioned the painting, believed to be Mitchell’s largest.

John Mitchell, son of Pappy Mitchell, was on hand to see the painting unveiled and talk about his father. Pappy Mitchell died in 1983.

“Everyone knows the story of the man who built a boat and then couldn’t get it out of his basement,” Mitchell said. “This was the same way, he couldn’t figure out how to get this painting out.”

The painting is a landscape of North Hill looking out over what is now the village of Chauncey, Mitchell said.

With the help of John Goodwin, a former student of Pappy Mitchell’s, and local artist Davis Hostetler, the painting was restored and framed using donated wild cherry wood from Superior Hardwoods in McArthur.

“It needed cleaned,” Goodwin said. “It was up in the law library on a bunch of tables, and we just went square foot by square foot.”

Goodwin said he had to repaint some of the painting where holes had been punched to hang the painting. Luckily, Pappy Mitchell taught Goodwin everything he knows about painting.

“He only used three colors in the entire painting,” Goodwin said. “When I went to be a student of his in high school I asked him what colors I should buy, and he said I only needed three colors and taught me how to mix them.”

In moving the painting, some touchups will still be needed on areas that came in contact with hands as they moved.

Since Goodwin and Pappy Mitchell became friends more than student and artist, Goodwin said he thinks his teacher would enjoy the celebration of his work. The two would trade paintings as they worked together, leaving Goodwin with more than 300 Mitchell paintings.

“I think he’d be smiling down, knowing that I got to work on his painting,” Goodwin said.