Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tearful Painting to Benefit Flood Victims

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tearful Painting to Benefit Flood Victims

Article excerpt

When artist Martha Paquin of Alton finished a haunting portrait in June of a weeping Judy Kovar, Paquin had no idea that both would be victims three weeks later of the Great Flood of 1993.

Putting aside their personal losses, Paquin and Kovar plan to have prints made of the painting and to market them to benefit other flood victims.

"My paintings in the past have, on a number of occasions, been premonitions of things that would happen in the future," Paquin said recently.

"But I never dreamed I would be a victim of a natural disaster."

Kovar and her husband Herman lost their home in Jersey County to the avalanche of brown floodwater that tore through the Nutwood Levee on the Illinois River in July.

Paquin's gallery in Grafton, the Potter's House, was inundated by the Mississippi River.

"I went in three times and put things up higher," Paquin said. Finally, she said, "You couldn't get in."

She remembers vividly how she learned of the Kovars' losses. She was filling out Federal Emergency Management Agency forms at Alton High School when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

It was Judy Kovar, who said simply, "Martha, yesterday we lost everything we had."

Kovar is half Northern Cheyenne and proud of her Indian heritage. Paquin's portrait shows her in the white elk skin wedding dress Kovar sewed herself. It has become her trademark.

Kovar also is among the nation's leading bow hunters, with four whitetail bucks in national record books, more than any other woman. All were taken "with a stick and a string," as she puts it.

Paquin's studio, in a secluded area of Calhoun County a few miles from Kovar's home, is on land Indians deem sacred. …

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