As the first featured artist and longtime curator of the Grove City Council's Art Concern, Ray Kline was concerned about bringing art into the community.

"Art was one of his main passions, along with jazz, and he wanted to make sure that people were exposed to art, that they didn't have to go downtown to the art museum to see art," said Jenny Lucas of Grove City, Kline's daughter.

The latest Art Concern exhibition "Full Circle -- A Memorial Art Exhibition," features a collection of Kline's works, remembering the artist who died in January at age 86.

Friends and family attended a reception April 24 to honor the man and his work. The exhibition will be on display through May 31 in council chambers at City Hall, 4035 Broadway in Grove City.

"Having so many of dad's friends come to the reception to see his work, it meant the world to us," said Lucas, who attended the event with her sister, Laura Craft of Upper Arlington.

"My dad would have been so proud and honored that people were seeing and enjoying his paintings," she said. "He would have enjoyed so much to see everybody."

"Full Circle" includes works loaned by collectors, friends and family, said Dean Kette, Kline's friend and the show's curator.

"I called it 'Full Circle' because Ray was the first artist to be featured in the Art Concern, and with this, his last exhibition, we've truly come full circle," Kette said.

Kette chose an alternate title for the show, which he posted at the entrance to council chambers for the reception.

"As I thought about it, I decided the title 'Words and Music' really summed it up," he said.

"If you look at most of these paintings, they're about music and musicians and almost all of his works have a word or a phrase incorporated into the image."

The earliest painting on display, "Cannonball," was a wedding gift to Kette and his wife, Patsy.

Kline painted it in 1962. It's a portrait of jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderley.

A portrait of two gospel singers entitled "Sings My Soul," places the lyrics "Then sings my soul/How great Thou art" over the images of the vocalists.

"Even his portrait of Anne Frank has words," Kette said.

The painting includes these words Frank wrote in her dairy: "In spite of everything, I still believe."

Faith was an important theme in her father's art, Lucas said.

"He became a Catholic late in life -- my mom (Jacqueline) was born into the faith, but he was into his 50s before he entered into Catholicism and he wanted to show through his art how letting Jesus into your life can have such an impact on how you live your life," she said.

"He thought people shouldn't just talk their faith, but strive to live their lives as Jesus would."

The Grove City Art Concern was founded in 1991 and sponsored by Grove City Council.

Kline curated the organization's exhibitions as a way to spread his beliefs about the power and value of art, Grove City clerk of council Tami Kelly said.

"He was humble about it," she said.

"He was always looking to promote the work of local artists, but not his own. In all these years, I think there were only three or four exhibitions that included his own work."

Grove City Art Concern exhibitions are typically open during City Hall's regular weekday hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but Kline was always willing to arrange appointments for visitors during off hours, Kelly said.

"He was always contacting teachers and offering to welcome their students if they wanted to take a field trip to see the artwork," she said. "He cared so much about encouraging people of all ages to experience art.

"I don't think we would have the Art Concern without Ray's efforts," Kelly said.

Kette will serve as curator of the Art Concern for a time, Kelly said.

It's important to keep the series of exhibitions going as his friend's legacy, Kette said.

Kette and Kline became friends in 1954 while both were attending Ohio State University.

Both men later worked as commercial artists for Battelle Memorial Institute and taught at the Columbus College of Art & Design.

"Ray was a sweet guy and a good friend," Kette said.

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