By BOB LEWIS
Perhaps nobody is more surprised with the quality and quantity of illustrations being created by Jim Edwards than Jim Edwards.
It is not that the Broken Arrow resident is lacking in creative ability. In fact, quite the opposite is true. But it took “one of the worse experiences” in his life to open the door to a new opportunity that may prove to be one of the best.
Edwards’ first fling with artistic acclaim came when he joined the Ambassadors, a regional group widely recognized for the excellence of its gospel music programs. As a lead singer, his skill led to an opportunity to join the world-famous Oak Ridge Boys. Heady stuff, for sure. But after considerable thinking and praying about the amount of time away from friends and family that would be involved in going on the road with the “Boys,” he respectfully declined the offer.
Taking its place is another expression of creativity, one that has allowed him to build a thriving hair styling business at the Style 101 Salon, 3333 So. Elm Place. But here is where this story takes a dramatic and thoroughly unexpected change of direction.
Even as a youngster, Edwards showed a deep love for horses and developed quite a reputation as a trainer. It was this passion that brought an end, at least for a while, to his career with a comb and scissors and opened the door to one with pencils and paper.
During a training session with a pure blood Arabian, the horse became spooked going over a jump and began bucking, depositing Edwards on the ground. Before he could be calmed, the steed came down on his trainer’s right leg and ankle causing extensive damage.
Following a series of medical procedures, including the insertion of a titanium rod in his lower leg, Edwards was confined to an easy chair where his days could be filled with an endless stream of television game shows, soaps, seriously unfunny sit coms and reruns of 1950’s and 1960’s programs.
Seeing the frustration in her brother’s eyes, his sister and volunteer caregiver, Carol Luster, handed him an art instruction book along with a pencil and drawing pad and said, “why don’t you do something productive with your time?”
Since this type of undertaking was totally new to him, it is easy to understand his amazement with the pieces he began churning out and the rave reviews he began receiving from friends and family on Facebook.
So far, Edwards’ 100-plus collection includes precious pets, sea dwellers and fearsome creatures of the wild, Native Americans, horses and cartoons – and there appears to be no end in sight.
As to the future, Edwards says when his physical strength allows, he fully intends to return to his hair styling and horse training businesses, but he has no intention of retiring his pencils and drawing pads.
An artist friend, who Edwards is helping understand the physical structure of horses, is providing counsel on how to improve his pieces. Friends and family members are offering subject suggestions and are urging him to find ways to display and sell his work. The writing and illustration of a children’s book has also been mentioned.
While all these ideas are within the realm of possibility, Edwards has yet to make a firm decision on his artistic future saying simply, “you never know.”