The Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Gallery in Wetumpka, AL, is an arts organization with a vibrant, multifaceted vision. “The Kelly” is committed to supporting the recognition, documentation, and publication of excellent art from the River Region of Alabama and beyond. We invite inquiry from the creative endeavors of artists working today and preserve the exceptional results for posterity. A myriad of approaches is welcomed, including a range of types from academic to experimental, but all relevant to the artists’ understanding of “art.” Also encouraged are works challenging traditional notions of art. We strive to provide a museum setting to showcase working artists and to document their work through our website, social media, and various forms of print media.
Established in 2011 and incorporated in 2013, The Kelly—an all-volunteer, 501(c)3 organization—can best be described as the hybrid of a gallery and a museum. As a gallery, it sponsors exhibits and promotes the sale of art.
About John Kelly Fitzpatrick
John Kelly Fitzpatrick (1888–1953) was a regionalist American painter from Alabama.
As a regionalist painter, Fitzpatrick is best known for his paintings of rural Alabama, especially his home county of Elmore County, Alabama. He was inspired by French painters like Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), and Henri Matisse (1869–1954). In the French tradition, he often painted out in the open, near lakes or creeks in the Alabama countryside.
Together with a group of artists known as the Morningview Painters, Fitzpatrick founded the Alabama Art League in the late 1920s. This led to the establishment of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery, Alabama in 1930. He sat on its original Board of Trustees and helped develop its permanent collection. Some of his work is still exhibited there. He also taught painting and served as director of the Montgomery Museum Art School. In 1938 and 1939, he was commissioned by the federal government as part of the Public Works of Art Project to produce paintings, including murals inside the newly constructed post offices in the towns of Ozark, Alabama titled Early Industry of Dale County and in Phenix City, Alabama titled Cotton.
In 1933, Fitzpatrick co-founded the Dixie Art Colony with Sallie B. Carmichael and her daughter Warree Carmichael LeBron. The idea was to establish an artist colony to paint and train burgeoning artists in the South. From 1937, they met at Poka Hutchi (“gathering of picture writers” in Creek Indian parlance), a small cabin on Lake Jordan. Later, Frank W. Applebee, the Chair of the School of Art and Architecture at Auburn University and a painter, joined the colony, as did Genevieve Southerland, Anne Wilson Goldthwaite and Lamar Dodd (1909-1996). The colony last met in 1948.
The John Kelly Fitzpatrick Gallery is in the City Administration Building in Wetumpka, Alabama. Additionally, some of his paintings can be found in the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery as well as the Johnson Collection in Spartanburg, South Carolina and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, Louisiana.
He died of a heart attack on April 18, 1953. He was buried in the Wetumpka City Cemetery.
Board of Directors
Belyn Richardson is a local real estate agent who loves selling the community as much as the home. She is active in Main Street Wetumpka and Trinity Epsicopal Church. Prior to entering into a real estate business she was Deputy Director for the Department of Human Resources. Belyn will tell you she is not an artist but going to visit museums is one of the first things she does when traveling.
Linda Lewis is a local Wetumpka resident and artist who loves the community. She has served on the Kelly board for the past three years and enjoys reading, cooking and painting.
Libby Christensen is retired from teaching English at six universities. She now owns a small website business designing quilts, www.sewgocreate.com. In the past 25 years, living in Wetumpka, she has received over 150 awards at the Alabama National Fair and area art competitions for her photography and needlework. She also has had 10 photos selected as finalists in international competition for publication in Best of Photography Annuals (by Serbin Communication, Inc.) and had several published in the Domesday Videodisc in the UK. She serves as the Recording Secretary for The Kelly Boardand edits the Kelly Canvas art magazine and Kelly News Clips and is also an active member of three art guilds in the Montgomery region.
Lynda Fain is a newly retired teacher after 43 years of teaching elementary and middle school. She taught an art appreciation class which helped to increase her love for art and history. This is her first year to serve on the Kelly board, and she is excited about working with the Kelly as it expands and grows. She attends First United Methodist Church in Wetumpka. She loves spending time with her grandchildren and introducing them to art and cultural experiences.
Erin Rogers is a homemaker with lots of passion for her community. A native of Northwest Alabama, specifically Sheffield, she grew up on the Tennessee River & feels very much at home in the river town of Wetumpka. A graduate of Judson College with an interdisciplinary degree in Business Administration & Political Science, Erin feels quite useful serving as the new Treasurer of The Kelly. She is actively involved with Trinity Episcopal Church, Scouts, The Mayflower Society, DAR, P.E.O, her book club, & of course, The Kelly! In her downtime, you’ll find her planning trips, reading, cooking, entertaining, working on genealogy, & treasure hunting for her personal art collection. Erin is wife to Matt & mother to three young boys, Rutledge, Gaines, & Pearson.
Barbara Bennett has been with The Kelly since its beginning and served as treasurer for many years. She retired from USDA Rural Development as Director of Administrative Programs. She lives in the suburbs of Wetumpka, aka Wallsboro, keeps books for her husband’s business, and hopes to soon resume her love of traveling to places she’s never been. And, no, Barbara isn’t an artist, just enjoys hanging out with creative people.
Beth Coleman is an interior designer as well as an architecture enthusiast. She is an active member of First United Methodist Church Wetumpka. She loves her community that he has called “home” the last 31 years. As a first year board member, Beth has been fortunate to help steer the vision and design of The Kelly’s new home on Main Street.
Justin D. Edwards is an Attorney in Wetumpka, Alabama for the Law Firm of Edwards & Edwards, P.C. He is a licensed member of the Alabama State Bar, the Florida Bar, and the Elmore County Bar Association. Justin serves as the City Attorney for the City of Wetumpka. He is also an appointed Special District Attorney for ad valorem tax appeals and handles corporate matters, wills, trusts, and estates for the firm. Justin is a dedicated husband, father, and coach of his children’s athletic teams. He is a member of the United Methodist Church and is a supporter of the Arts in Elmore county and abroad.
Alabama native, Carol Hickman was born and educated in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and currently resides in Wetumpka, Alabama. Although she did not start painting until the age of 50, she was hooked the minute she started. Formally trained as a Home Economics teacher at the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), Hickman designed clothes, recipes, quilts, and interiors. So, it is not surprising that after retirement she fell in love with art and is an award winning artist. Hickman has served on The Kelly’s Board of Directors since its inception, served as the President in 2018 and 2019, and currently serves as the Curator.
Charlotte Whetstone is a retired educator who delights in living on Lake Jordan. She also enjoys traveling with her husband and reading. Although Charlotte is not an artist, she does appreciate their work and has a collection of art from her travels and local artists. She likes to plan the special events for The Kelly.
Wayne Turner is a retired attorney who lives on Lake Jordan. He and his wife Adelia are active members of Trinity Episcopal Church. Wayne has been on the board since 2014 and, although he is not artistic ( can’t draw stick figures), he appreciates and enjoys art, and Adelia is an artist. He chaired the committee which searched for a new home for The Kelly and has overseen the renovation of our new building.