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My original plan for that sunny afternoon was to pick up an office credenza from the Howell Mouldings company in Kansas City, and that was it! Things quickly shifted another direction after learning that the owner was retiring and selling the office furnishings. So I asked if I could take a look around, after all… I knew I would regret not taking a glance if given the chance. I have often found unexpected items at moments when I least expected to do so, that’s a story for another day! After been given the go ahead to look around, I spied some art stacked against a wall. All of which were original paintings that Mr. Howell had in his personal office all of the years he was in business.

What caught my eye were these two paintings that were among all the others stacked ever so nicely. I was told they were gifted to him by his brother Bill’s ex-wife many years ago. Her name then was Melissa Howell and later remarried in 1975 going by Melissa Ellis Zink. She was born on June 9, 1932 in Kansas City, Missouri. Daughter of Everett Elgin and Margaret Iola (Logan) Ellis.

We believe these were paintings that she had created while in her mid to late twenties. The smaller framed painting (dated in what appears to be ‘59) which I was told she referenced to a “painter wiping off paint”. She signed her name G. Howell, which no one was clear as to why?

painter wiping off paint

The larger painting is one to be questioned. We’re unsure and yet amazed nonetheless, it’s stunning and can be depicted to be whatever you wish to see.

The Secretary at Howell Mouldings was kind enough to forward me enough information to paint a clearer picture about the artist and her passion for the arts! I learned that Melissa attended Swarthmore College, The University of Chicago, and The Kansas City Art Institute. Not an ordinary achievement for a woman of that day and time. She struggled with finding her place in the art world and decided she would walk away and focus on raising her daughter. She would later dive back into what she had always wanted to be which was an artist.  Melissa created many fantastic pieces over the years and is recognized as a notable artist by Marquis Who’s Who.

Her dream of creating art was a desire she fulfilled at a much later time in her life. So, the two paintings I acquired from Howell Mouldings were created at an earlier stage in her life while still in her twenties, long before she stepped in three-dimensional scenes of clay, mixed media, paint and bronze two decades later. In 1993 the Parks Gallery in Taos New Mexico exhibits Melissa’s work. Melissa passed at the age of 77 in 2009, read more here.

I don’t know how I lucked out on purchasing these paintings. It was as if they were sitting there in the empty office waiting for someone like myself to snatch them up… and so I did! I don’t often have such luck at acquiring an original piece of art, let alone two as fine as the ones I stumbled upon here. I never did end up purchasing that credenza that afternoon!

As much as I like both of these painting and as tempting as it may be to keep them, it’s not practical! I know there is a person who needs them, or wants them more than myself. To keep them would mean I would just be trying to find a space, something else would have to go and there just isn’t that perfect spot in our home for either of these. I can honestly only hope these find the perfect wall and space to be displayed in someone’s home or office.

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