Letter: Privileged to work where artists are valued

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 19, 2021

Twenty-three years after gifting Waterworks Visual Arts Center with a bigger-than-life illustration of Dennis the Menace painting himself, cartoonist Marcus Hamilton finally signed his work of art as dozens of Dennis fans looked on.

Hamilton revealed during his artist talk recently that well after leaving the piece with the arts center, he realized he never signed it! Hundreds of Waterworks art students have enjoyed “big Dennis” as it normally resides in the Graham Art Studio on the second floor; that is, until it joined the numerous other Dennis the Menace cartoons, memorabilia, and Hamilton’s  first career illustrations during the summer exhibition, “Imagine,” and was finally signed by the artist! 

The signing was just one special event in Hamilton’s 27-year career capturing the adventures of this beloved cartoon character in original Hank Ketchum style for daily syndicated publication across the country, including in our own Salisbury Post. In the Waterworks’ style of illuminating North Carolina artists, Hamilton, from nearby Mint Hill, has been a delightful presence in the museum, as he and Dennis remind us that life  does not have to be serious all of the time!  

Mr. Hamilton retrieved his collection two weeks ago, as did the other artists of “Imagine,” and said goodbye to the exhibition that made everyone smile. By Monday, Executive  Director and Curator Anne Scott Clement transformed the galleries (no small feat of expertise and exertion) into a fresh and tantalizing new exhibition. I have been here, in Salisbury and at Waterworks, for four years, and I will never take for granted what goes into providing diverse, professional visual arts presentations for everyone in this and surrounding communities to experience. The fact that they are free to see is amazing. I feel privileged to live and work where the arts are valued and supported as much as they are here.

— Holly Zemke