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Vet, retired teacher paints mural

Daily News - 3/16/2017

Patti Poe believes the hand of God drew her latest piece of artwork.

A self-taught artist, the Bowling Green woman painted a mural for the Bowling Green Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic, which she hung Wednesday for a gathering of clinic staff, veterans and family.

"God was working through my arm because I don't know how I did this," she said. "A lot of prayers went into this."

The mural, which is painted in panels, has an bald eagle with piercing eyes at its center with the American flag in the background and the Statue of Liberty at the right. There is also a panel that features the image of the Missing in Action and Prisoners of War flag, stating "You are not forgotten."

"The flag outside the VA was a reference point," she said.

Poe's sister encouraged her to watch tutorials to learn how to paint.

"I was a kindergarten teacher, so the only painting we did was finger painting and at the easel," she said. "I watched videos. It was the compilation of a lot of research"

It was at the urging of her provider, Dr. Susan Stagner, that Poe, an Army veteran who fought in the Gulf War, decided to find out if the VA clinic would display her artwork.

"I had thoughts of doing an art contest. She suggested she show her paintings on her phone," clinic Administrator Penny Ritchie said. "I fell in love with them. We had such a big empty wall and what better way to fill them than by having our veterans do it."

Poe was doubtful.

"I don't know if she saw the terror in my eyes. Then I remembered to do it a piece at a time," she said. "Then I carried it over in my daily life ? take it one day at a time. It was definitely a positive. I had something to look forward to."

Ritchie agreed.

"The best thing for us is to show how much it helps her," she said.

It took Poe a month to paint the mural.

"Some days I can't hold a paintbrush and some days I can paint an hour or four hours," she said. "I call it the 'I can do what I can do (mural).' "

Jim Manley, finance officer for the American Legion, is a patient at the clinic. He thought the mural was great.

"It really makes me feel wonderful," he said. "It reminds me of a true American patriot."

Poe said she couldn't have done it without the encouragement of her family, especially when she didn't think she could go on.

"My husband said, 'Well, I knew you could,' " she said.

Now people are noticing her work. She is painting a smaller version of the eagle and Manley asked her how much she would charge to do the MIA/POW flag.

Poe is glad she did it. She comes from a long line of veterans.

"I hope the veterans enjoy it, with all the sacrifices they've made," she said.

 
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