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J Clark Wider

There Is Life After Retirement! As the song goes, "old soldiers never die", however, this old soldier has far from faded away. With a distinguished military career as a soldier and as a marine, followed by an equally distinguished career as an artist, Jim Wider isn’t done yet. From his studio in northern Colorado Springs, he continues to make a difference, and has even influenced the lives of current Fort Carson soldiers in a number of ways. Jim Wider’s military career began with the 11th Airborne Division in 1954, and he saw service in Augsburg and Kitzingen Germany. He also served as an infantryman with the USMC during his twenty years of duty, as a part of a number of Far East and Mediterranean cruises, serving in Korea, Okinawa and Japan. Rounding out the remainder of his military service in armor, he was stationed at Fort Carson under combined arms, 4th Infantry Division, before he retired in 1975. Upon retirement, Mr. Wider, who had produced a fair amount of art as a soldier overseas, opened up his Southwinds Fine Art Gallery. The Southwinds Gallery was located on Weber in downtown Colorado Springs, as well as outside the west gate at Peterson Field on Powers, before arriving at its current location at 16575 Roller Coaster Road (corner of Roller Coaster Road and Baptist Road) on the edge of the Black Forest. Jim Wider was also a charter member of the Arati Artists Gallery in Old Colorado City. From those locations, Mr. Wider’s art has enriched the lives of the soldiers and airmen that have walked out the gates of Fort Carson and Peterson AFB and into his studio. Mr. Wider is a seasoned artist who creates from his childhood memories of the south, a genre of art that is unique to the Colorado Springs. His art captures the heart and is both visually and emotionally provocative. Somehow avoiding the enormous pressures of the changing trends and influences all artists face, he follows his own course, pulling images from his memories and from folklore. His interest in art began as a young boy, scratching drawings in the dirt with a stick in Columbia, South Carolina. As he grew, so did his talent and the selection of art as his life’s work. Concluding his formative years with a BFA degree from the University of Southern Colorado, he selected scenic Colorado Springs to live in and brought to the area a beautiful gallery right in our own backyard. As a painter and gallery owner Mr. Wider publicizes and markets his own work, and his work is represented in many private collections. Collectors of his original paintings and limited edition prints include Kenya’s Ambassador to the United States, show host and actress Oprah Winfrey, actress Esther Rolle, actress Maria Gibbs, General Colin Powell, basketball super start Grant Hill, activist Dick Gregory, football Hall-of-Famer “Mean” Joe Green, actor Hal Williams, and many other art lovers. In 1994, Mr. Wider was one of ten artists invited to participate in the African American Art Festival (celebrating contemporary African American artists from 1980 to 1994) at the highly prestigious National Arts Club in New York City. In addition, Mr. Wider is well known for his contributions to our culture and community. Because of his selfless role in educating our community about the arts and his involvement with youth, Mr. Wider was recognized in the Congressional Record of the 110th Congress by the Honorable Douglas Lamborn and is listed in the premier edition of Who’s Who Among Blacks in Colorado Springs. Jim Wider’s realism in the marketplace complements his own personal view of art. Whether or not you walk out of the gallery with a piece of Mr. Wider’s art, there’s no doubt you’ll walk out with a memory, with your life enriched by the experience. Mr. Wider has opened up the Southwinds gallery to other local artists, including SFC Kevin Johnson of the HHC, 43rd Sustainment Brigade. Similar to Mr. Wider’s story, SFC Johnson is now nearing retirement after 20 y

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