A true Delta artist
by Jack Criss
The Bolivar Bullet
Born and raised in Ruleville but currently a Cleveland resident since 2014, artist Eulie Frank Hooper describes his work as mainly, “oil paintings, heavily influenced by the great Delta artist Sammy Britt. When I was growing up, art was not taught or offered in school but, in the summers, Sammy would give art lessons to the general public and I was fortunate to learn from him.”
Inspired and influenced by his beloved Delta–and many of its great artists–Hooper also said that, if pressed, his work could be labeled impressionistic/Monet-esque. “There’s a lineage with a lot of Delta artists, including Sammy Britt, that goes back to that school.”
Hooper said that, when he was younger, he wanted to pursue art as a career (“even though I certainly didn’t want to be like those beret-wearing caricature artists you see all over New Orleans,” he laughed) and went on to study at Delta State.
“My senior year, as a Commercial Art student at DSU, I participated in an internship with Delta Design Group in Greenville under Noel Workman,” said Hooper. “I had grown up watching television characters like Darrin on ‘Bewitched’ and Bill Bixby’s role on ‘The Courtship of Eddie’s Father’ and they both were in the ad agency business, so it was a natural progression for me. Noel taught me a great deal and I learned a lot from him.”
Hooper went on to work in Austin, Texas for an ad agency, eventually becoming part-owner with another Delta ex pat, a friend of his from Clarksdale who had worked with longtime Greenwood advertising executive, Allan Hammons. “I loved living and working out there but ended up coming back to Bolivar County in 2014 to care for my father who was suffering from dementia,” said Hooper.
“It’s been famously stated that you can never go back home–but you can. My intention was never to move back to Mississippi, but I can now say that I’m glad I did, even under the circumstances. All of the so-called medical ‘experts’ were recommending that dad be put in a nursing home or long term care facility. To me, though, that was unfathomable. This man had taken care of me and let me live with him until I was 21 years old–the very least I could do in return was take care of him,” Hooper said.
Referring to himself as a proverbial “starving artist,” Hooper said he has never pursued gallery exhibits or placement, focusing instead primarily selling works on Facebook and through commissioned pieces. “I don’t even have a website,” laughed Hooper, “which I know is strange given my advertising background. But, truly, I consider myself more of a traditional, or ‘old school,’ artist–I’ve done and know all of the computer work and design that’s available but just prefer to do things my own way. If I can make enough money to buy more art supplies and frames, that’s just fine by me.”
Not totally eschewing shows and festivals, Hooper said he does sell work at Cleveland’s Octoberfest and Crosstie events every year and at Ruleville events, and does well. “Plus, to be honest, I have a lot of dear, close friends who have supported me and my work and that goes a long way, too,” he said. “Those who have moved away from the Delta naturally want to be reminded of it, so they’ll commission or buy a pre-existing cotton or cypress painting of mine. That’s why I’ve had work show up in places like Chicago and even Anchorage, Alaska.”
Hooper said he typically has three or four paintings that he’s working on simultaneously at any given time, “with maybe a couple of those meant to sell and the other just for my own pleasure. I love to paint and have a studio right out my back door. It’s small, but it’s perfect for me, with a lot of windows and light–just ideal. I usually get up with the sun, go out and paint while listening to music, stop to take a nap and then go paint some more,” he laughed. “It’s fun and I love it. I get so much pleasure out of producing my work and others tell me that they get pleasure out of it, too. What more could I want?”
To view his paintings/work and to inquire about purchases or commissions, go to Hooper’s Facebook page, “Eulie Frank Hooper.” “’Eulie’ was my grandfather’s name, hence the name,” he said.