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Artist of the Week

Artist of the Week

As part of our mission to promote the arts in the Palmer community, we want to take advantage of the Friday crowds to give local artists a platform to showcase and discuss their work! Each week, a different local artist’s work will be displayed in our hall gallery, and the artist will be available for a short Q&A the first Friday of opening.

Summer 2020 Artists

May 22 – Rose Hendrickson

May 29 – Diane Paoletti

June 5 – Alli Harvey

June 12 – Ray Gambradt

June 19 – Terry Phillips

June 26 – Maureen Kelly

July 3 – Kamilla Diamond

*July 10 – Barbara Hunt*

July 17 – Danielle Mettling

July 24 – Gigi Lemieux

July 31 – Ken Harris

August 7 – Mimi DeGange

August 14 – Maria McKiernan

August 21 Will Jehlan

*Current Artist of the Week

Exhibit Archives: Artists of the Week

2020

Gallery

Interview

Interview Transcript
Emily Longbrake  

Thank you for joining us. I’m here with the lovely Rose Hendrickson and we’re going to talk about the upcoming Artist of the Week show at the Palmer Museum in downtown Palmer. To get started, could tell us about the work that will be on display at the Museum this week?

Rose Hendrickson  
I have seven pieces on display down at the museum. Every one of the pieces is student work that’s been done in my BFA program of study over this past 18 months, and most of what is on display has been accomplished in this last year. It’s all three dimensional work. I have been majoring in sculpture. I’ve been an artist for over 40 years and worked in a lot of two dimensional mediums. I decided to start school back in 2016, and what I really, really wanted to pursue was three dimensional work. So I’ve been working in sculpture. So five of the pieces are ceramic, and one of them is steel. And one is a mixed media with wood and aluminum and some other things.

Emily Longbrake  
So, as a formerly 2D artist, how has the 2D part come into the 3D designs that you’re making?

Rose Hendrickson  
Well, they’re definitely related in many important ways. And they have some of the same elements, you know, you have your element of color, balance, composition, all of those things are just as important in three dimensions as they are in two. I think what happens when you move into three dimensions, of course, everything is exponential. So now you have to worry about composition, balance, weight and design, from every direction: from above, from below and from all sides. In a way, it’s easier because when you’re working in two dimensions, most of what you’re trying to do is give the illusion of three dimensions, and get the viewer to suspend belief, but with a three dimensional project, it’s there, you feel your way through it, you you move all around it, you look at what you’re doing, and and you have to plan in space. You have to plan your idea spatially.

Emily Longbrake  
Yeah, I do 2D and 3D work as well. So I can appreciate the challenge there.

Rose Hendrickson  
It’s wonderful.

Emily Longbrake  
How do you choose your subjects? In school, you’re probably using prompts from the educators, but you also interpret them your own way.

Rose Hendrickson  
That’s what we do in school and but I will say that I really appreciate the quality of instruction. I’m attending UAA, and the prompts that the professors give are very broad. They are specific only in suggestion. So the mixed media piece that I have on display at the Museum is my largest piece. It’s made out of aluminum, wood, paint vinyl, and the prompt for that piece was to produce an object using text. That’s it. That’s the prompt. There’s no more! There’s no “text in a graphic way,” “text in a funky way,” “text in an abstract way,” “text in a realistic way.” There’s nothing like, “Create a piece using text as an element of design.” So the prompts are usually quite vague. You’ve been through this, and I’m sure if you if you’ve done this sort of thing, they intentionally leave them open to your creative interpretation of the prompt.

Emily Longbrake  
It sounds very challenging!

Rose Hendrickson  
Very challenging, but it’s also incredibly stimulating and inspiring. I don’t know about you, but as an artist myself, my problem is not usually what to do it’s which to do. So generally as soon as they give us the prompt, I’m flooded with, oh, this, this, that or this, or I could do this or, hey, I wonder what this would look like. I usually don’t have too much trouble coming up with ideas, but sometimes they change. For the text piece, I had, I don’t want to say lame, but a very basic idea centering around the word Alaska, which is my home, but not using the word Alaska: using other things. Actually, this this sweatshirt I have on appealed to me the first time I saw it. {Design reads “home”, with the State of Alaska outline as the “o”.} I loved the way they used text in the art but also used our home state, as I was born here. So it’s meaningful to me. I like it a lot. I wanted to figure out something, you know, not the same. But that gave you that same inspiration. I was more thinking about toward the north. Anyway, this was our last prompt of the of the semester. And as you can imagine, it coincided with the lockdown. So by the time we received this and started working on this prompt, we had been locked down. So I’m like, okay, all I’ve been thinking about for the last week and a half is this pandemic, and the word “exponential” going over and over again in my brain, and how it took over my mind. It took over my life. It was bigger than me. So if I had had access to my classroom and to the materials that I have and the equipment that I have there, I would have made that piece very, very large. I would have made it maybe eight to 10 feet. As it is, it’s about six feet. I wanted to express how overwhelming and all consuming the pandemic is, and how school and everything is different. Every day, our world is different.

Emily Longbrake  
I was curious from your previous work doing portraits and figurative work if the pandemic experience has expanded the ways that you’re thinking about those happy moments in our lives, and if you might be making work about that in the future.

Rose Hendrickson  
I have a tentative drawing: it’s a figurative piece, thinking more about people. I’m still very much in love with figurative work. I have a figurative piece in this little show: it’s a small piece that’s actually a self portrait, as it’s my own hands that are sculpted in the piece. But the prompts for our our assignments often inspire my imagination in different directions that are not figurative. So most of the pieces that are down there are not figurative, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to do more figurative work. This is definitely my first love. I like so many things that I don’t nail myself down but figures are seductive. It’s incredibly satisfying to do figurative work. There’s something sensual about working with the human form. It’s just really seductive.

Emily Longbrake  
Speaking of seductive, some of the materials you’ve used in the past, like pastels and even silt from the Matanuska River have a very textural quality. I was wondering how you have brought that into your new work.

Rose Hendrickson  
When you’re working in three dimensions, you’re working in a sensual realm. I discovered clay not for the first time ever (you know, we all play with clay when we’re kids) but within the last 18 months. I changed my secondary emphasis from painting to ceramics after taking a handbuilding class, the first formal handbuilding class that I’ve ever taken. It’s totally different than your little package of clay when you’re a kid at home. When you’re working with clay, you have your hands in the mud. There is nothing more primal than grabbing a material and forming it to your will. That’s certainly not every element of handling. There’s so many other processes besides just touching it with your hands and moving. But it’s pretty primal.

Emily Longbrake  
I was also thinking about the transformation that happens with ceramic work in particular and how that must be different than your previous life in two dimensions: things change a bit in the kiln, and sometimes you get happy accidents. Have you found out at all?

Rose Hendrickson  
I’ve been fortunate in that pretty much the things that I put in the kiln came out the way I expected them to when they came out with maybe just a couple of very rare exceptions, so I’m not experienced enough. Working in ceramics, I’ve only been working with them here in this formal setting for about a year. So the stories I’ve heard and the things that I’ve seen other people go through though, yes, there can be some big changes . Simultaneously this semester I did a wheel throwing class. It’s a different kind of clay, different kind of firing, and different kind of glazes. What I’d gotten used to in hand building with the responses between the glazes and the under glazes is that what you see is what you get. But in wheel throwing, where they fire to a different temperature, the glazes don’t act the same way. So when I was expecting a white surface on the background or something, it didn’t come out white, it came out gray, for instance. So I did have some experiences like that. But on the whole as far as transformation of a piece between two dimensions and three dimensions, I think that there’s just as much transformation in each one. You go from a blank sheet of paper or blank canvas to having some sort of a representation whatever it is you’re trying to say, and that process is quite transformative. For the metal piece that I have on display, I started with a sheet of rusty metal. The processes that I went through to cut those shapes according to a pattern, to bend and fold those shapes using heat, and then to weld those shapes together into the piece was very transformative. There’s no comparison between the materials and the finished product at all. With clay, you start with a lump of mud in a barrel, fire it, and changes from mud to rock. And you cover it with glass.

Emily Longbrake  
It’s amazing! Sounds like you’ve been trying all these new media, but I was also wondering over your many years of being a working artist, how have you been keeping art interesting year after year?

Rose Hendrickson  
Wow, that’s an easy job. Art is interesting: I’m curious, I like to try things, and I am driven to improve. I have goals. I have visions, and I want to try to match the visions that I have. And those comes so fast and furious: they come so quickly, and they’re so full and there’s so many of them. I’ve probably forgotten at least as much as I’m ever going to accomplish. But I think the way I keep art interesting is just changing. The visions changed with my life. It changed with my moods, they change with my experiences, they change with my associations, with my locations.

Emily Longbrake  
You’re you’ve played the viola since you were very young, and I was wondering if music is still a strong part of your artwork. Obviously it’s a strong part of who you are. But I was curious how it might be related to the work you’re presenting now or working want to make?

Rose Hendrickson  
Oh, that’s an interesting question. Music is still very much a part of my life. Although I regret to say that over the last two school seasons, I have reduced my participation in the local music productions because I simply haven’t had time. My school schedule will have me working 50-60 hours a week in Anchorage, and so it conflicts with the rehearsal schedules for the formal musical associations. But I certainly still listen to music all the time while I’m working and I have my instruments and I will not be in school forever. My orchestral and community associations and music are strong. I have lots of friends in the musical community and music is very important to me. I don’t ever see it leaving my life. As far art, I don’t make any separation between music and visual art. Music is emotion. Visual art is emotion translated. Music is a conversation. Music is a painter: it paints pictures in your head. It informs and extracts your emotions and visual art does the exact same thing.

Emily Longbrake  
What is next for you this summer, shall we? Will we be seeing any of your work at the State Fair again this year if all goes well?

Rose Hendrickson  
The State Fair has been canceled, my dear.

Emily Longbrake  
Ah! Good to know!

Rose Hendrickson  
It’s interesting because it does affect the answer to your question. Another thing that I’ve done for 23 years in art related business is that I am a henna artist. So I do henna temporary tattoos, and I was the first vendor who brought that to the State Fair. All of the fairs that I do through the summer except for one now have canceled or are waiting to give a final decision on canceling. So that is my income besides artwork. Please, people, go to the museum and buy my art! I need income this summer. But I’m I’m going to have to scramble for new ways to come up with with the income that I need. I’m trying to apply for different relief programs. So far I haven’t really gotten through to anything. So a little frustration on on that side of things. But the other thing is that since I won’t be having fairs, I’ll have more time to create work. Summertime is usually a time when all I’m doing is henna, fairs and gardening, as I’m also a gardener. So I I’ve already got work lined up in my head that I want to try to get done for the summer. I also have to be getting ready for my final year as a BFA student.  All the classes are very demanding, but the BFA demands that I gather my thoughts in such a way that I can concentrate on producing a specific body of work over the winter with a goal of having a show on that specific body of work. So I have to figure a lot of things out over the summer in relationship to that specific body of work. What am I going to do? Why am I going to do it? What are my goals? How am I going to approach it? How am I going to disperse the time to create these pieces across the two semesters that I’ll have in which to create them? What am I going to say about them? Writing about my art is a huge challenge for me. I’m still really stumbling along, trying to communicate myself about myself and writing with it. Artist statement: what’s that? I made it: do you like it?

Emily Longbrake  
Thank you for sharing all this. I’m really excited to see your work. Last question: how can folks get in touch with you if they would like to learn more about your work and what you have for sale?

Rose Hendrickson  
People can certainly get in touch with me: I have a Facebook page called Rose Hendricks Fine Art. My art is viewable on that page at any given time, and you can contact me through that page. Also at museum, all the pieces are for sale. You can contact Sam at the Museum if you’re interested in purchasing any items.

Emily Longbrake  
Excellent! Thank you so much. We look forward to learning more and seeing more of your work to come.

Rose Hendrickson  
Thank you for taking the time taking the time with me today, Emily.

Gallery

Interview

Interview Transcript
Emily Longbrake  
Thank you for joining us today: I’m here with the beautiful Diane Paoletti, and she’s going to tell us a little bit about her work at the Palmer Museum of History and Art. Could you tell us about the artwork that will be on display this week?

Diane Paoletti  
Sure. I have some paintings down there. I believe I have. It’s mostly oils, but some a few acrylics, and a couple landscapes and portrait and some chickens.

Emily Longbrake  
Excellent. I know that chicken painting is really popular! Your work includes a bunch of different subjects, landscapes, portraits, animals: how do you choose your subjects?

Diane Paoletti  
I usually try to pick something that touches my heart, especially with the portraits. I’ve done my dad and my husband’s dad who had passed away, my grandchildren, and I also do pet portraits, which I really like to do a lot, because they’re just super fun. And then the landscape, same thing, like, you know, it’s just something that really catches your eye that you know is just spectacularly beautiful.

Emily Longbrake  
Sounds like you get to travel and see some beautiful places when you’re painting and plein air versus in the studio. Is there anything particular you could share about that?

Diane Paoletti  
I really enjoy plenn air painting a lot. It’s funny because the first time I did it, I was like, why would anyone do this with the elements and the sun, constantly moving and I just thought it wasn’t my thing. But then I gave it another shot and I just I really, I really love it a lot. It makes me think of last summer: I went down in my backyard (we live on Cottonwood Creek) and I packed up my equipment and walked down there. I know that salmon come up the creek and we have eagles that hang out and stuff. But when I went down there, it was the middle of the afternoon and I was the only one there. And I had two eagles that were just swooping down the entire time, talking back and forth to each other. I had salmon coming up the creek, and it was just something I’ll never forget. And I really I will never part with that painting.

Emily Longbrake  
Wow, that sounds so magical. And so Alaskan!

Diane Paoletti  
I was so great. I can’t I can’t even convey to you how great it was.

Emily Longbrake  
Wow. Yeah, that sounds like something the old masters would probably not have experienced.

Diane Paoletti  
I still really enjoy studio painting too. There’s just such a huge difference between the two. And the majority of the time I will take my plein air painting back into the studio and finish it off.

Emily Longbrake  
That sounds like the best of both worlds.

Diane Paoletti  
It is actually.

Emily Longbrake  
I would like to ask you a little bit about your, your techniques, which would also involve your painting workshops in your studio. Can you tell us a little bit about the workshops you offer and how that relates to the work that you have on display right now?

Diane Paoletti  
Sure. I really try hard to get some really good artists up here from Outside [Alaska] because I know it will only benefit those who want to learn more, and it’s had a big influence on everything that I do. I got into portraits because I have a woman I brought up in California for like eight years in a row. She got us hooked. Just this past year, I had Dustin Van Wechel from Colorado, who is a very well known wildlife artist and the things that we learned (and I know everyone that was in that workshop would agree with me) are just priceless. We learned from him, and I hope to have him back. Just this past February, we had Lyn Diefenbach, who is an internationally known pastel artist and oil painter.  She did a 10 day workshop. We did landscapes, florals in portrait. And just same thing with her: what we learned is just so priceless, and I had never touched pastels in my life. I really like them a lot, and I’ll continue to do them too. While I brought up Lynn, I just want to say that just recently from that workshop, we ended up forming the Pastel Society of Alaska. I’m president of the group, and we’re starting to get that going now. So if anyone has any interest in joining, just contact me.

Emily Longbrake  
Great! I’ll put a link to that in the notes for folks to check out.

Diane Paoletti  
Here I want to mention one more thing because I do have a workshop coming up at the end of September: Kyle Stuckey will be coming up from North Carolina (see kylestuckey.com). If you think you’re interested in portraits, this guy is just phenomenal. We’re all really excited about it, and I do still have openings.

Emily Longbrake  
Oh, excellent. On your website, you mention that you are a self taught artist, but it sounds like all these influences really have expanded your work.

Diane Paoletti  
For sure. When I say self taught, I mean I just I never formally went to college or art school or anything like that, but people have definitely influenced me.

Emily Longbrake  
Is there anything else you’d like to share with folks that might be stopping by the Museum?

Diane Paoletti  
I also I offer classes in my studio: I do a Wednesday class, and then I do private lessons too if anyone’s interested.

Emily Longbrake  
Are your classes for a particular experience level or age range?

Diane Paoletti  
No, the experience level doesn’t matter. For the age range, nobody too too young. But, I’m in the process of teaching my 8 and 7 year old granddaughters one day a week, and then I have two four year olds I’m teaching too. So I’d probably say over age 10 or 12 would be nice.

Emily Longbrake  
Sounds great, we’ll enjoy seeing their work as those small artists grow as well! Thank you so much for sharing, and we’ll look forward to seeing your work and what you have going on in the future.

Diane Paoletti  
Thank you.

 

Gallery

Interview

Interview Transcript
Emily Longbrake  
Thanks for joining us. I’m here with the wonderful Alli Harvey. I just wanted to let her introduce herself and tell us about her work at the Palmer Museum right now.

Alli Harvey  
Thank you, Emily. My name is Allie Harvey, and I’m an artist, which is something that I’ve had a hard time getting my brain around! I’ve been painting since I was 16. I started painting because I had been drawing a lot growing up. I was, weirdly for anybody who knows me now – it’s kind of an unexpected history for me, but I grew up really asthmatic, so I was kind of trapped in bed. While I was there, I did a lot of drawing magazines and drawing inside of my closet. I outgrew my asthma with the help of several environmental factors, but at some point, when I was 16, a mentor encouraged me: “Okay, you like to draw, try painting.” I did try painting around the same time that I developed a fascination with Alaska and ended up coming out here. So now my work that’s on display at the Palmer Museum right now, remotely from my studio in downtown Palmer, tends to be really colorful and pretty realistic. It’s all acrylic on canvas. But it’s kind of combining my love of the reality of Alaska, what drew me here and kept me here, which is the amazing wild spaces that we have access to, with my love for sharing that. So yeah, I hope you guys are able to follow and check it out. It’s cool that the Palmer Museum is choosing to feature my work this week.

Emily Longbrake  
We’re so excited to have it. Everyone’s been very excited to see your paintings. Can you tell us a little bit more about your subjects, since a lot of us might know some of those places that are featured in your work?

Alli Harvey  
Of course, I’d love to. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of Palmer focused work. And otherwise, Southcentral Alaska. One of the pieces I know I sent over is of a view of Matanuska Peak up the McRoberts trail, which is at the end of Smith road. You can either go all the way up Matanuska, go up Lazy Mountain, or  go up as far as you can  and then turn around, which is something we do a lot. It’s in the fall and you’re looking out over the tundra and the beautiful reds and the green lichens out there up into a kind of classic moody Palmer sky. That painting in particular is pretty big. It’s giant. It’s a much bigger painting than the ones that I typically go towards and it was really fun to do that. Another one that’s up is of hiking Lazy Mountain, which is kind of a familiar sight to a lot of us. You’re going up Lazy, but not the Lazy Moose Trail. The old Lazy trail is just a classic Valley trail: It’s just straight up and the painting is of that view I like: it’s nice to have a pause when you’re halfway up: you’re like heaving and you stop and you look and you realize that the aspect is like this (steep!). And it’s beautiful when it’s green. We look forward to this time of year because you can just get out there and have that kind of technicolor green when we don’t get to see green for so many months in the winter.

Emily Longbrake  
Yeah, I can totally relate to a pause to breathe and check out the vista. I noticed on your website that you said when you’re out you take pictures: do you do sketchbook drawings when you’re out hiking as well to kind of bring home with you to the studio?

Alli Harvey  
Nope, wish I did: don’t have the patience. I take a ton of pictures. I mean, like, my phone is ridiculous. It’s constantly out of storage. So I take a lot of snapshots. And when I first started painting, I worked from “failed photographs.” I was in school, so I found my first subjects from photos that were in the archive that didn’t quite make it into our school yearbook. But, you know, my teenage self at the time was like, “Such dramatic lighting! This could be made into a painting.” It was kind of a way of focusing somebody’s attention on something that I saw in the quote, failed photograph. That was cool. I’ve moved away from that a little bit, because I think right now my focus with my art is really to just kind of connect people to that sense of awe that we have when we’re outside. For instance, that picture I took of McRoberts wasn’t on the most beautiful bluebird day, so I still like some drama in my paintings. Not to knock on artists who do, but my subject is not the pastoral moose, the grizzly bear in nature: it’s more kind of intimate landscape focused things that we are so lucky to see basically on the daily up here. I do take a slew of photographs when I’m out there, just to have plenty of material to draw from and I still think I gravitate towards some of the more dramatic photos, from that stage of my teenage self.

Emily Longbrake  
That’s great. It sounds like that balance of vastness and intimacy is something that you’ve been working through for many years. Do you think that that’s something you’ll keep working on? I was wondering about your next 10 years as an artist.

Alli Harvey  
Oh my gosh, vastness and intimacy is a really good way to put it. I had never thought about that. So thanks for that. Because it’s true, right? I think there’s so much out there to explore. As Alaskans, we understand that. There’s so much of our state that even if we were to explore it every day of our lives, we wouldn’t get to see it all. We get to have such immediate experiences of those places, which I definitely try to bring through in my painting. So thanks for articulating that. Emily. That’s cool. I think for the next 10 years, I’ve been really wanting to build up my art business side, meaning that I love painting, and I love getting to connect with all sorts of people over that shared experience, so I’ve wanted to continue making that more of kind of a cornerstone of how I get my income so that I can support myself. If you would have talked to me three months ago pre-COVID it would have been, “In the next 10 years, here’s where I’m gonna go!” Right now, honestly, I am pretty socially distant because I have an underlying condition which prevents me from being out and about: I’m just pretty risk averse with it right now. So I have not been spending that much time at all in my studio. That said, this is a finite time in the scope of life, so we’ll see what the next year brings. I’ve been experimenting with watercolors because they’re a little bit more mobile, and I can work with them at my home, but boy, props to anybody who is actually using watercolors because they’re also very, very finicky. I miss my acrylics. All that to say, I’ll definitely keep on painting. I’ve also been focusing on, in addition to the watercolors, experimenting with what I can do with writing, which is another form of expression. But I look forward to getting back to the acrylics.

Emily Longbrake  
It’s great to hear that you’re experimenting. I know that that helps people keep their practice fresh. Just a couple more questions for you: do you have any studio tips for people that might be also working at home over the summer, and for who knows how long, and continuing their art practice?

Alli Harvey  
This is kind of a bummer piece of advice for folks, so sit down, but somebody gave me this advice and it was really good, which is this: you can be really talented and have that talent exist only in your basement and only in your mind. I think the most important part of continuing to work on art, especially through a time like this, is really about setting aside time for it and having the discipline to fulfill that time with the steps that you’ve outlined for yourself. For instance, saying I’m going to paint for an hour a week, or whatever feels achievable to folks. I think in this moment carving out space for mental health and just freaking out ~because the world~ is important: totally get it, but really try to have time on your calendar and sharp elbows to really guard that time from other folks but also from yourself. I’m guilty of it: the hour creeps up and I’m like, “Can I stay on TikTok for another hour?” No: actually focus on the thing, and then it acts as a springboard, right? If you actually do the hour, it’s motivating because then you have finished that hour or whatever it is: that’s achievable work. That sets you up well to do another hour if you want to do more. That’s my kind of Debbie Downer advice: set an achievable goal and be disciplined about achieving it.

Emily Longbrake  
I appreciate that: thank you!Where can we go to find out more about your work and purchase items from you?

Alli Harvey  
You can visit my website, alliharveyart.com, and you can also follow me on Facebook or Instagram at @aharvart. My studio will be open at some point, but not yet. So I’ll keep folks posted on what that’s looking like.

Emily Longbrake  
Excellent. Well, we will look forward to being able to see each other in person one of these days, but otherwise, we’ll have pictures of your work on Facebook for people that follow the Palmer Museum. Hopefully we can share more that way and look forward to more to come. Awesome.

Gallery

Interview

Interview Transcript

Emily Longbrake
Hi, and welcome. I’m here with the wonderful Maureen Kelly. I’d like to ask a few questions to get to know her better and hear more about her work. Thanks for being here.

Maureen Kelly
Thank you for having me

Emily Longbrake
To get started, could you tell us about the artwork that’s on display at the Palmer Museum?

Maureen Kelly
I picked a variety of things. I’ve got a couple of florals, a couple of faces – I love to do people faces – portraits, and some landscapes. So yeah, a variety of art.

Emily Longbrake
It sounds like you have a really wide range of subjects. Can you tell us how you choose what you like to paint or collage or draw? All of the above?

Maureen Kelly
Yeah, I mostly just come up with ideas. With landscapes, you just have to look outside and see the beauty of Alaska and and you know that you don’t have to go far for beautiful landscapes here where we live. But I do love to do portraits. I’m actually in the process of doing portraits of all my nieces and nephews. That’s one of those things. And florals now here with the garden starting. I’ve got a picture of a delphinium for example: my delphinium are just beginning to bloom. I draw inspiration from both nature and just the life around me.

Emily Longbrake
Excellent. That sounds like great inspiration! In your application, you mentioned that you studied art in college. Did you learn a lot about drawing from life there?

Maureen Kelly
When I was 15, I lived in Chicago. I grew up there, and took a life drawing class at the Art Institute: I was hooked. Ever since when I went to college, I studied art. It was a minor, it wasn’t my major degree but, still I did a lot of art classes and I have continued throughout the years to just work for many, many years. I spent probably 30 years just being, you know, involved with loving watercolor and all of its beauty. About three or four years ago, I realized it was time to branch out after all these years of studying one medium. I decided it was time for oils and acrylics and collage and such and so I have I dove into those as well. So now I’m doing a lot of different mediums and having a lot of fun playing with those mediums. Enjoying just creating with all mediums, I guess.

Emily Longbrake
It’s funny, we just talked to Alli Harvey about her work and she really loves acrylics, but she’s branching out into watercolors. And she said they’re so fickle and difficult sometimes. She respects anyone that works in watercolor!

Maureen Kelly
Yeah, I you know, it’s it’s fun. Each medium has its own beauty and its difficulties as well. It’s fun working through some of those and discovering: that’s what it’s all about.

Emily Longbrake
Yeah, discovering as you create. I’m sure that helps keep it interesting year after year: if you get stuck on something you can always find a new way to express the idea.

Maureen Kelly
I actually recently pulled out an old folder and found artwork from 30 years ago: I looked at it and decided it was time for a rework, and I just started ripping and tearing and repainting and creating new works from old works from years and years ago. It was really cathartic, if you will. It was really fun to take these old works from another time in my life and turn them into new works from this time. It was fun.

Emily Longbrake
Oh, what was the biggest thing that stood out as far as how you changed as an artist?

Maureen Kelly
Oh, well, I I’ve become a better draftsman over the years I I feel like now I am able to draw what I’m seeing better than I did 30 years ago.

Emily Longbrake
A lot of technical growth.

Maureen Kelly
Exactly. That’s what I meant to say.

Emily Longbrake
Oh, it sounds like the same things have been interesting. Just just a different way of expressing them on on paper or canvas. Since you’ve mentioned it, you weren’t an art major in college, right?

Maureen Kelly
Yeah, I studied English. And I actually got my degree in Library and Information Studies. And so I’ve been a librarian for many, many years. And now as a retired librarian, I have more time to devote to my art. I have a lovely art studio that my husband built me, which I’m sitting in right now and, and it makes such a difference to have your own art studio where you can just put out all your paints and canvases and not have to clean everything up every single time. For example, some people have to work on their kitchen table and put it all away before dinner, which is not my situation, thank goodness. But however you can create, create however you can, whenever you can. But lucky for me, I have a place where I can go: it’s my room to myself, if you will, for me.

Emily Longbrake
You also mentioned that you meet with other painting groups?

Maureen Kelly
Well actually I do like online painting classes, so I’ve taken quite a few of those. In fact, there’s one that’s going to be beginning on June 30. It’s learning to do big florals and acrylics, which I’m looking forward to. But I also meet with groups here: in one specific group actually here in Palmer. It’s on a bit of a hiatus Now, of course, with COVID. But, up until that time, we did art journaling every Sunday, and I love the beauty of art journaling, the immediacy of it, and the privacy of it too. It’s nothing that you’re doing to show anyone or to sell to anyone, you’re doing it for your own self: you’re creating for yourself. It was just a fun group about seven or eight of us that get together on Sundays and create. I’m looking forward to it resuming when we’re able to after the this crazy virus passes away.

Emily Longbrake
Did you have a strong sketchbook practice before meeting with that group?

Maureen Kelly
Yeah, it’s funny, I hadn’t thought so, but I had moved from one house to another and everything went into storage and once this art studio is built, I began pulling things out from In the closets and under the beds and out in the garage, and and I came to find I had more sketchbooks than I realized. It was fun to go back through things that I had done way back in the 80s. I was going, oh my goodness, I forgot all about these, about being interested in this facet. It’s funny as you grow as an artist when you go back in time to see your earlier works and where you were at and what you were interested in. So it’s interesting to see how you’ve grown. So yeah, I had more sketchbooks than I thought.

Emily Longbrake
Were there any particular mentors or influences that you felt like were really special?

Maureen Kelly
I’m absolutely going to just say different artists from the ages you know, you get on to things like Klimt or or Matisse you know, the Masters if you will, for example on I don’t know have you ever heard of Flaming June [by Frederic Leighton]? This was my attempt here: there she is, Flaming June in Alaska. Studying old masters is a wonderful way to hone your technique. So, I found many different artists whose styles I wanted to learn from, if you will, but no one in particular. Maybe Art Deco: I did go through a major Art Deco phase at one point, but so many different influences over the many, many years of your life for everyone, I mean, your music, the music, that you listen to, the art that you that you look at, just everything that happens in your life makes you who you are and, and that’s why when you create art, you’re creating a unique piece. Every single person creates uniquely because they’re unique. No one will ever create art like you ever.

Emily Longbrake
We all have experiences: where we come from, wherever you are going.

Maureen Kelly
Absolutely, absolutely. And that’s what’s the beauty of seeing different artists work, so many different styles and ways of expressing that of who they are and where they’ve been and where they’re going. That kind of thing.

Emily Longbrake
Second to last question, could you tell us about the Valley Fine Arts Association?

Maureen Kelly
Yeah, we have quite an active group. Prior to COVID we had been meeting once a month at the college and we had arranged times to meet at the library and Palmer. We were actually quite active and every September there is a retreat. Unfortunately that’s been cancelled this year as have all of our monthly meetings and get togethers. But still, we have an active Facebook group. If anybody’s interested in learning more about the Valley arts, they can go onto our page on Facebook and and see what’s going on there. And yeah, we’re in a bit of a hiatus. At the moment, as are many groups, but I’m sure when all this is over, we’ll be coming back just as strong as ever. We have quite a large following here in the valley.

Emily Longbrake
We’ll put a link to that in the notes for the video so that people can go and find them. And speaking of reaching out online, how can folks get a hold of you if they’re interested in the work?

Emily Longbrake
I do have an Instagram, IBut I have yet to finish up making my webpage and my artist page and all that. If anybody really wants to meet me if they happen to be out and about at the Friday Fling this coming Friday, I’ll be at the museum.

Emily Longbrake
Yeah, that sounds great. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with folks that might be interested?

Emily Longbrake
I do put out the news for the Valley Fine Arts Association into the People’s Paper, so if there’s any big news, I’ll be mentioning it there. I do have a show coming up at the Matanuska Brewery on the Palmer Wasilla Highway for the month of July. That’ll be my next big show after the museum show.

Emily Longbrake
Wonderful. Well, I look forward to it. All right. Well, thank you so much for your time. And we’ll have lots of notes and this video on Facebook for folks to check out and look forward to seeing more of your work.

Unknown Speaker
Well, thank you so much. Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure to sit and chat with you for a bit.

Emily Longbrake
Thank you!

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Interview

Interview Transcript

Emily Longbrake
Hi, and thanks for joining us. I’m here with Terry Phillips, also known as Terry Lou. We wanted to get to know her a little bit and hear about her work. So just to get started, would you like to introduce yourself?

Terry Phillips
Hi, I’m Terry Phillips. And I am this week’s Artist of the Week at the Palmer Museum, which is a great thing and a fun thing for us to do. I’ve been painting for 40 some years and I’ll let you ask me questions and go from there.

Emily Longbrake
Thank you! Could you tell us about the work that folks can see at the museum?

Terry Phillips
I did put four pieces of my artwork from Wasilla up: I see so many points from Palmer, you know, like the water tower and popular places in Palmer that get noted in artwork, but of course I’m from Wasilla so I just wanted to add a few of the landmarks from Wasilla. You’ll see the red caboose that’s in the city park. There’s one of Newcomb Park at Wasilla Lake. There’s an old boat out on Knik Road from the Reddingtons – it’s been out there for years and years, and it looks like an old shipwreck. It’s just fun to look at that piece because it has a lot of history and it has been out there ever since I can remember, about 35 years ago. And there’s one more from Wasilla.

Emily Longbrake
We’ll leave the last one as a surprise!

Terry Phillips
I have cards as well: just little correspondence cards that people can pick up and send as a postcard to somebody. I think I have one of Hawaiian palm trees. First of all, where I learned to paint was in Hawaii. That was a special time: we were still in the military then. I didn’t know a thing about painting. I just know that the way I got started was I play piano, and there was a lady on the base who wanted her children to take piano lessons. She wanted to trade art lessons or painting lessons for a piano lesson. And I told her, I don’t draw, I just don’t, I don’t even see that happening. And she said, Well, just come over and try it. If you like it, we’ll do that. And if not, we’ll just not go that route. So we did and I liked it. It was just a lot of fun and there was so much you could do, and so much to learn that I just had to do it. I was also pregnant with my first child at that time. And I can remember that when I went into labor, I was trying to paint my grandmother’s portrait. Now keep in mind, I didn’t know much about painting, and when I got home with the baby, and I looked at that ugly portrait on the easel, I thought, God, my grandmother would be rolling over in her grave if she saw that! But anyway, that was how I got started. I know I have a painting of Hatcher Pass, of the little red chalets, and all of these, except for the Hawaii one, they were painted plein air, meaning you go outside and you paint what you’re looking at outside. Some of them you take photos of so that you can continue the work at home in the studio because the light always changes. And you definitely need to sometimes fix a few things.

Emily Longbrake
Other than the subjects, What kinds of things do you hope to capture in your paintings?

Terry Phillips
The fun thing about plein air is you’re out there and you’re painting and people come around and they start talking to you, and they show an interest and then they try to see if you’re really capturing what you’re after. One painting I brought is of the lilac [iris] fields out at Eklutna. People are familiar with with the sites, and it is fun to get to talking to people. I know at one point too, I got to hang some paintings over at Vagabond Blues in Palmer, and all the customers in there made comments. They all spoke with you, and it really makes you feel good. Like people are actually noticing that you’re putting art on the walls and they want to talk about it. And then the best part of all is if you sell one! I think that’s true for any artists. We like to do a little happy dance if one goes out the door and gets a good home.

Emily Longbrake
Oh, can you tell us about the materials you use to make your work?

Terry Phillips
Yes, I started with oils and still use oils quite frequently. And then I switched to acrylic. One of the ladies that I also took lessons from in Hawaii (she’s passed away now) turned us on to acrylics. I clearly remember that she painted an outdoor sink that she had with all kinds of flowers and things in acrylics to test their stamina. So when it rained or there’s lots of rain and pouring in Hawaii sometimes and she would let us know how well those acrylic stood ups. And the advantage of those was that they dry right away. You don’t wait weeks and months for the layers to dry. You do have to keep them wet when you’re outside by constantly spraying water. If you remember to spray the water you’ll be fine. Other than that, if you don’t remember to spray the water your paints are dry and you get flakes and and dry little chips of paint where you don’t want them. I do enjoy acrylics and I do enjoy the oils and I swore I would never try watercolor because I don’t want to own any more paints. I have so many tubes of paint. It’s crazy. Of course, there’s also your brushes. We all have favorite brushes, and it appears that we never throw them away because they can really never be used up and can have some nice effects on a painting. So, so yeah, just acrylics, oils, watercolors and brushes.

Emily Longbrake
It sounds like travel has been a real influence on your life in general but also on your artwork. Can you share a little bit more about places you’ve been and how you brought them into the work that we can see now?

Terry Phillips
We have traveled extensively, especially our early years because my husband was in the military, which is why we were in Hawaii in the first place. And we’ve been we’ve been to Texas. This piece long gone, but there was once the Texas phone book, which show people’s artwork on the cover and and I tried to do a windmill scene that was out in the fields. Anything I saw or anything that just even the least bit attracted my attention, I would try to paint it. Coming to Alaska, we used to live in Cold Bay. That’s out on the Aleutian chain. I actually gave classes for painting there for the adults which were part of the university’s extension classes. You have to know there was nothing in Cold Bay. There was no radio, there was no TV. There was hunting. We did well, having just coming over to my house, we’d set up canvases and I’d share my paints and my brushes. Groups of us would paint together and then we’d have a little show for the 200 people that live there. So yeah, a lot of traveling. We’ve lived in New Mexico. I was born and raised in New Mexico. And there I have several paintings of that, not necessarily displayed over there at the museum. There’s just a small tiny painting of a rose over there at the museum. And it’s just because they’re so pretty, they’re just a rose is so pretty. So there’s nothing special on it, but a rose and it’s a pink one. And you just see something and it just moves you and you think I got to put that somewhere and it’s got to go on a canvas so that you can always appreciate it. My motto is, everybody should be able to afford an original, even if they’re little bitty ones and sometimes I do little bitty ones that and turn them into ornaments on little tiny easels. They’re very reasonable, like $15. I’ve seen people in town that just say I have a Terry Phillips original and it’s two by two, but it’s an original! I really do feel that even if it’s a larger painting, people should be able to afford an original. So I don’t like to get way out there with prices.

Emily Longbrake
That’s great. or service to the community, almost! What can you tell us about what’s next for you this summer or maybe the rest of the year? I know that a lot of things have changed due to COVID. So artists are changing their practice in all different ways are all of our schedules have changed?

Terry Phillips
Well, I am on the board of the Valley Fine Arts Association. Last year, I was the president and I’ve served at every position on the board but we always for the last five years have had a retreat, an artist retreat out at 12 Mile Lake on the Willow side of Hatcher Pass. We had to cancel that this year because of COVID. And it’s a big letdown because we have a lot of sponsors. We get a lot of donations so that we can give everybody that attends goodie bags with lots of paint, brushes and different items they can use. At any rate that’s been cancelled. And we do have a sort of a potluck picnic type thing coming up at Peters Creek. One of our members has a really nice cabin there on Peters Creek just outside of Eagle River. They’re going to sell their cabin, so she’s invited everybody to have sort of a last fling out there and just bring a potluck and bring your paints and your canvas and you can sit at the creek and have a day. Because it’s outside we feel a little safer being far enough apart from each other where we might not have to wear our masks. Yeah, it’s just It’s it’s kind of hard with that COVID coming around all over the place. You know? So what is good about it? It’s that even here at home when you think you’re bored, or you’re like, now what I’m stuck in the house or anything like that, painting takes over and before you know what the day is done, and adding to your collection, hopefully that’s so great, but you can see a silver lining.

Emily Longbrake
How can people get in touch with you if they’d like to learn more about your work or Fine Arts Association? We can put some links in the video here.

Terry Phillips
Okay, I’m on my own Facebook page [Terry Phillips Art] and Valley Fine Arts Association. Yes, we’re on there. I’m on all kinds of paint sites that are groups here in the valley. And I did put up business cards over there at the museum and every bit of information is on there. I do commissions and I have taught a few classes so you know, if somebody is interested in learning a little bit, I like to do one-on-one. I don’t like to teach groups. If there’s too much questions and time gets taken away, I would say that a whole lot of what you want to accomplish in a group doesn’t get done at my level. I like to teach acrylics. I like for somebody after a lesson to be able to walk away with a painting that they can say, “Look what I did,” and feel like they want to continue. I can be contacted on messenger on Facebook. I’m due to hang work at Burger Jim’s for the month of July, and they have humongous wall space. So I can bring quite a few pieces of my work. That may help out both of us, you know: it might draw some people in to give Burger Jim’s some business and it might give me some business. I do try to display locally at different places, different venues.

Emily Longbrake
Is there anything else you’d like folks to know before they head over to the museum or know about you as an artist?

Terry Phillips
Just know that I enjoy talking to people. And if I do give a one-on-one lesson to somebody, it’s pretty safe here in my house, and I could keep them six feet away from me. And more than likely don’t have to wear a mask.

If you say to yourself, “Oh, I could never do that,” it’s a big lie: you can do it. I am self taught. And for years, I used books to just look and try to copy and see if I could learn the colors and that kind of thing. Just that there’s a whole lot of rules in art. I found that out that the more educated you got, the more confusing it is because you’re trying to remember all these little rules. To create something you don’t really need to follow huge rules, you need to just let yourself go. That’s my theory.

Emily Longbrake
That’s a wonderful closing thought. Thank you so much!

 

 

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