Jonathan and Kellie Peyton of Alexandria immerse themselves in the art world of Central Louisiana. Jonathan is a living tribute to his father’s legacy. His father, the late Rev. Tom Peyton III, was well-known as a key promoter of the arts in Cenla. Tom left quite a heritage in the art realm. In 1980, the Annual Arts Festival held at the First United Methodist Church on Jackson Street in Alexandria, was renamed to honor his memory.
Tom Peyton set a high standard, and Jonathan, with his love of the arts, is carrying his father’s artistic torch. Jonathan’s son, John Thomas, who is a sixth-grader at Alexandria Country Day School, is following in his father’s creative footsteps. Many of John Thomas’ mixed media paintings hang in a place of honor on the “Peyton Art Wall” in their home.
Even as a young boy, Jonathan was involved in many aspects of the Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival. And since 2007, Jonathan has become even more active in the festival and show. He serves as treasurer and the artist and patron database administrator. “As a child, I was very proud of the name recognition of my father, when I would see the banner across Jackson Street. As an adult, I have so much more of an appreciation of the impact of the festival on the local community,” Jonathan says.
For the last few years, more than 300 pieces of art have been entered into the juried exhibit of the arts festival. From the entries, about 70 pieces are selected by the judges to be showcased. “The show is growing, and it takes a lot of work to keep up with the database,” Jonathan says, adding that he does not mind working the long hours and on weekends to make sure things run smoothly in preparation for the arts festival. Funding for the Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival comes from donations. Ten Merit Awards of $300 each are given, and one $1,000 Festival Award is presented each year. Jonathan, as the festival treasurer, is involved in all aspects of the financing, from donations to awards. “All art is unique and its interpretation is left up to the viewer,” Jonathan notes.
If asked, Jonathan modestly says he is not an artist, but quickly extols the talents of his wife, Kellie. Several of her paintings, which are mainly acrylic abstracts, hang in local galleries. The two together are quite the creative pair. Before moving into their new home, the couple wanted to create something unique for the centerpiece for their kitchen. “Over the course of several days, we were able to create an imprint of a City of Alexandria manhole cover with a machinist’s hammer and a sheet of copper. We cut it to a circle and then adhered it to a backboard,” Jonathan says of the copper medallion embossed with the Pelican logo which serves as the backsplash behind their stove.
The two also wanted a statement piece for their foyer. They created a custom base frame for a large mirror and then framed the mirror with tree limbs and branches from their property in back of their house. The two then spray painted the branches with high gloss white paint. Art abounds throughout their home. Last year, Kellie and her son, Matthew Curd, both had art pieces selected for the festival’s art show. And even though Jonathan does not call himself an artist, as an 11-year-old, one of his tempera paintings was actually selected to be included in the 1985 arts festival’s juried show. “I did have a vivid imagination,” Jonathan laughs. “I remember someone wanted to buy the painting, but my mom wouldn’t sell it. She saved all my art work.”
Jonathan, the president of the board of trustees for Alexandria Country Day School, is a systems virtualization specialist with CMA Technology Solutions and maintains an office inside the home in which he was raised. He is also co-owner of Next Generation Insulation. Kellie is a marketing specialist with STAT Home Health in Alexandria. Their whole family, steeped in such a deep appreciation for the arts as a reflection of the creative beauty of God, is daily helping to prepare for the arts festival in April. The Peyton family would like to extend an invitation to everyone to come out to enjoy the festival.