By Twyla Pruden
A pharmacist is, by definition, a person who is professionally qualified to prepare and dispense medicine — perhaps saving a life. An artist is a person who practices any of the creative arts such as painting, music, or photography – often bringing color and beauty to life.
Dr. David Stewart of Hope is both. A retired pharmacist who served the Nashville area for many years at Howard Memorial Hospital, he now answers a calling full of vibrant color and whimsical characters. He paints, almost daily, in a small studio in the backyard of the historic home in which he lives with his wife, Cherry. He is usually accompanied by Augustus McRae Stewart, “Gus” – a rescued Norfolk terrier – who also appears in some of David’s art.
Dr. Stewart’s art will be exhibited by the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council beginning May 1 and running through May 20.
The exhibit, which will hang in the SWAAC gallery in downtown Hope, will be open to the public at no cost.
Born and reared in Hope, Dr. Stewart qualified for pharmacy school after only two years of college at Henderson State Teachers College (now HSU).
He began pharmacy school at the University of Arkansas in 1964, the same year he married Cherry, also an artist and an exceptional chef. She was the long-time owner and operator, chief cook and bottle washer, of Cherry’s – a popular café in downtown Hope.
Following her retirement, she took art lessons at the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope (now UAHT) and became proficient in oils, acrylics and other media.
Stewart graduated UofA in pharmacy in 1968. His work history includes Cantrell Drugs in Little Rock, Ward Drug and Village Drug in Hope, Branch Hospital in Hope, and Medical Arts Pharmacy in Texarkana. He bought Hope’s Crescent Drug in 1975. After receiving his doctorate through the UofA, he wanted to do hospital pharmacy work and sold Crescent Drug in 1986, moving straight into hospital pharmacy.
He has been the director of pharmacy at Howard Memorial Hospital in Nashville, worked at HealthSouth in Texarkana, the hospital in Hope, and then ended his pharmacy career back at the Nashville hospital.
While pharmacy was his profession, he always had an art avocation. Photography by David Stewart was much in demand for class reunions, weddings, and even for funerals. He also taught photography at Red River Vo-Tech (now UAHT) in Hope. A slogan he used in his advertising for Crescent Drug’s photo processing was, “Remember, take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints.”
He says Cherry “conned” him into taking art lessons at UAHT in his semi-retired days. He had already begun painting some with his grandchildren in the art room outside and had even entered some of his works in the county fair, winning a number of ribbons. He has also donated pieces of art for sale at auction for community causes.
Another art avenue for Stewart is playing guitar, although he seldom does that now.
Recently diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a rare nervous system syndrome that affects ability to communicate, he sometimes has trouble expressing thoughts or finding words. However, he stays busy with his art and is a member of the Hope Kiwanis Club and the Presbyterian Church.
Art is truly a family affair for the Stewarts. In addition to their grandchildren, David and Cherry’s son Jason — an orthopedic surgeon — is also an exceptional artist with his medium being pencil and his favorite subject a superhero. Jason, his wife Robyn, daughters Bailey, Whitney and Mallory, and Harley — a Bernese Mountain Dog — live in North Little Rock.
The SWAAC gallery is at 200 E. Division Street in downtown Hope. Exhibit hours will be 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.