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Many people took part in raising this free-spirited artist

Jan Wendt’s art reflects a free-spirited nature. Inspired by fantasy, nature and a little bit of rock ’n’ roll, her mixed-media creations capture dreams and a world of “what ifs,” in a subtle attempt to cause change in the world.

“Art is about making a difference in the world. I believe if people cherish the arts more, maybe, just maybe we would have less war,” she said. “I have seen a lot and been through a lot of rough times in my life but my art has been my way of keeping sane and focused on what is truly important. It has helped me deal with my pent-up emotions having somewhere to safely put them.”

Her materials include acrylic, canvas, wood, found objects, and celluclay, a paper product that, when mixed with water, acts like clay. She creates sculptures that are free-standing or sculpted directly onto canvas or wood.

Wendt, 54, grew up in the military; her father was in the Air Force and they moved every few years. She was born in Cut Bank, Mont., and also lived in Arizona, California, Germany and New Mexico. About a year before her father retired, temporary duty brought the family to Fairchild Air Force Base, where they settled.

Wendt was a senior in high school at the time and the transition to civilian life was hard for her; she ended up dropping out of school and hitchhiking to the coast with a friend. They picked cucumbers for Nalley for a while and then returned. She eventually received her high school diploma and earned a degree in visual media from Spokane Falls Community College.

Wendt is a perfect example of “it takes a village to raise a child.” When she didn’t get the nurturing she needed from her parents, she found solace and support from others who exposed her to the beauty in the world.

Wendt’s grandmother made her promise to not give up drawing and painting. A Montana teacher, Mrs. Kennedy, urged Wendt to draw and took her on nature walks. Frau Diel, who lived in the same building as Wendt in Germany, kept Wendt company when her parents were gone and also took her to churches, museums and parks.

“They opened my eyes to the world,” she said, “they showed me how important it is to see beauty in the world no matter how bad things might seem.”

Growing up in the military, Wendt was exposed to many different types of people and cultures – all of which she absorbed. A mother, a wife, and an artist, Wendt maintains her free spirit by creating art and playing keyboards in her husband’s band, Innersanctum.