Message for each medium

Artist Jim Dyke peels back the covering to reveal a portion of the mural he’s painted to reflect historic Jefferson City.

Artist Jim Dyke peels back the covering to reveal a portion of the mural he’s painted to reflect historic Jefferson City.

Learning the joy of making something from his grandfather and a diligent work ethic from his father, Jim Dyke has become a prolific artist and entrepreneur.

“I like coming up with new ideas,” Dyke said. “And it’s fun to sell something you made; when someone buys it, they’re saying they like it.”

Whether his tools are a paintbrush, the written word or guitar strings, the direction is the same — to communicate a message.

“It’s all the same kind of thing,” Dyke said. “Some times you see a sunrise on the river and it’s so crazy-awesome you want to tell someone what you saw — you might call them or paint it on canvas or put it in a song.”

Dyke’s latest project, The Historic South Side Mural, will be unveiled at 10 a.m. Saturday at 117 E. Dunklin St. The 48-foot-wide and eight-foot-tall project took many months to complete with historical accuracy, he said.

“To have 48 feet of blank space and turn it into a scene of buildings and homes was a series of problem solving,” Dyke said. “I had to sit and think, one step at a time.”

In 2011, Dyke wrote a readers theater play about the 1911 Capitol fire, as well as organizing a temporary exhibit of artifacts and an evening recreation of the event, complete with fire engines and church bells.

And he painted an historically-detailed scene of that night, including the Sedalia fire department’s response by train.

“I had grown up hearing stories about it and I was surprised I didn’t hear anyone else talking or thinking about the centennial,” he said.

In the end, Dyke treasured most the community response.

“It was fun because other people cared about the event and the history, too, and they wanted to do the same thing I did — be in the same spot at the same hour, 100 years later.”

As each artistic venue shares a message, each artist shares a different perspective on an idea.

Particularly in his caricatures, “it’s a way of saying what I see,” Dyke said. “You are the only person who can produce your version of artwork.”

This August will be his 20th year to set up his tent and draw caricatures for 11 days straight at the Missouri State Fair. He can be found at events across Mid-Missouri with his chair turned so his back faces observers so they can watch each caricature develop.

Similarly, Dyke has allowed visitors to watch his artistry the last 14 years at Downtown Living Windows. Last year, he was working on the mural and year before that it was the Capitol Fire scene. Other years have featured trains, older buildings and streetscapes.

“It feels good to know people are interested in what you’re doing,” Dyke said. “It’s fun to entertain.”

Although more limited, Dyke has recorded several original pieces of music, including the “Live United” song for the United Way of Central Missouri community campaign a few years ago. And he has performed at Salute to America.

Growing up in Jefferson City, Dyke received praise for his poetry and his artwork throughout his school years, winning awards several years at the annual Sketch Day.

One of his best early experiences came from Tom Benke’s commercial art class at Nichols Career Center, where students were given a local business’ project as a class assignment.

“He used real jobs to offer to students as assignments,” Dyke said.

“When you did it right and in the way the client wanted, you got the money.”

A few months ago, Dyke discovered hand-painted ties to be popular.

“It’s my most recent, weird idea.”

It started out as way to cover spots on a favorite, old tie with fabric marker.

He jumped from stripes to President Abraham Lincoln, then from fabric markers to paint. The most popular designs have been replicas of “The Scream” and baseball-themed ties.

As original works of art, Dyke has designed wall frames so the ties can hang up like art, as well.

Although Dyke’s natural artistic talent leans toward the realistic, he said he has had fun experimenting with the less intensive work on the ties.

Moving on to his next ideas, Dyke will host a community sketch day this summer. And he will offer art classes, including comic strips and painting.

Dyke has strong opinions on some editorial issues, too.

“If there was a common sense party, that’s the one I would join,” Dyke said. “As a cartoonist, I never think about it in terms of changing someone else’s view or of political party.

“I think in terms of common sense for whatever the issue is.”

Sometimes a topic is not controversial, but something that affects the community — like the recent tornado devastation in Oklahoma.

“As people deal with a situation, I get to voice what I’m feeling and seeing,” he said. “An editorial cartoon is a caricature of a situation.”

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