After Cathi and Chris Ball purchased the Whitmire Ranch near Bowring in 2005, they quickly became immersed in Osage County activities. Never mind that Cathi had just accepted a teaching job in Brownwood, Texas.
"After our last child graduated, I went to the University of North Texas and received a Masters of ART Education," said Cathi. "The day I graduated in 2005, I accepted a job at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. Chris is a fourth generation cattleman. The day after I graduated, he bought the Whitmire Ranch which is now the Ball Ranch."
Cathi said she discovered her passion for art after raising the couple’s three children. She graduated from Tarleton State University in between her two oldest children and was named "Outstanding Student" for Fine Arts and Speech. She also taught sign language at her local church where she interpreted for the deaf. In addition, Cathi has her pilot’s license and is a graduate of The Greenbrier Cooking School. She is a welder, sculptor, and illustrative artist. Her exhibits include weaving, wood, and metals.
Ball is currently working on a mosaic guitar for the Osage County Cattlewomen of which she is an active member. The following is an interview the JC had with this accomplished artist:
JC: When did you first begin creating your mosaic guitars?
CB: When I was teaching high school, someone gave me an old guitar. It had 3 loose strings so I decided to mosaic it into Picasso Unstrung. One day I had a substitute teacher and someone removed the strings!! New idea, I used my 80’s earrings and jewelry to decorate it and named it Glittar. I had it for years on the wall in my classroom then later at Howard Payne University where I taught. I loved that guitar. It was purchased by a woman in Bartlesville.
JC: What inspired you to do this?
CB: I like the idea of recycling or repurposing old items. I usually use old guitars on their last leg.
JC: Would you like to say something about what how you incorporate personal or special treasures to create your guitar? It seems like these are perfect examples of "up cycling."
CB: One of my favorite guitars is "The Humble Road Biker Church". I asked all the bikers to bring items to include in the design and made it a symbol of the unity of the fellowship. It is so precious to me when I see the patches "These are my church clothes" and clutches from Harley’s. I dropped a (miniature) Harley from the base of the guitar. That is an idea I used on a guitar for Frank and Lola’s where I hung a (miniature) bicycle from the guitar in reference to the ones on the ceiling of the restaurant.
JC: Haven’t you showcased your work during one or more of Pawhuska’s art festivals?
CB: Yes, I showed in the Bartlesville Show this year and the last two shows at Pawhuska Art Walks.
JC: Do you have a completion date goal for the OCCW guitar?
CB: I am working on the guitar for the OCCW as the items are donated. Then, I will fill in the rest with items that remind me of the county, with lots of glitter!
JC: Have you thought of a name for it?
CB: I have not named it but I am open to suggestions.
JC: How do you propose the Cattlewomen will promote it and sell chances?
CB: I donated one of my mosaic guitars to a charity in Texas last year and it brought $2,300 at auction. That gave me the idea to donate this one to the Cattlewomen as a fundraiser.
Ball explained her guitars are all based on a concept. She said, "Most are named after country singers like Dolly Parton, Jewel, Miranda Lambert, and Shania Train and that she used an antique train on the Shania Train mosaic. The Pink Pistol guitar is inspired by a pink guitar." Ball named a green guitar "Lee Greenwood." She also made a Ree Drummond guitar out of antique kitchen gadgets, handmade doilies. One of her newest creations honors Duck Dynasty.
Ball noted, "It is amazing how these works evolve. I spend so much time looking for just the right touch to make it special. One of the things I always stressed with students is ‘meaning making’ in art. If your art does not mean anything to you, it probably won’t mean anything to anyone else. It is so much fun to watch people get the idea of the guitar and run with the theme."
Ball said, "I always told my students "you are not limited by what exists. The guitars are a good example of inventing an art form. I started with 10 ideas and now there are about 25 guitars, of which over half are sold." Ball’s guitars made the cover of the Bartlesville Magazine and have been featured in the Tulsa Tourism Magazines.
Examples of Ball’s work may been seen at www.cathiballart.com.