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As a form of therapy following a stroke, Spokane artist Pat Adams has oil-painted scenics and portraits of family members at her kitchen table for more than 30 years. But after the death of her beloved dog Sage, Adams took her painting in a new direction. (SR photo: Colin Mulvany)
They say all dogs go to heaven. In the Inland Northwest, the most special of our canine companions also make it to Pat Adams’ canvas. Adams is a Spokane painter with a giving heart who memorializes cherished dogs on canvas, capturing their big eyes, perked ears and slobbery grins to bring comfort and peace to grieving pet owners. She also paints the occasional cat, bird and most recently a pet turtle. “This one is for my vet’s father,” Adams said one April morning while using a small brush to outline a handsome tan dog face on a black canvas. She dipped the brush in a dark chestnut paint to draw the tip of the floppy ear/Erica Curless, SR. More here.
Question: Do you think pets go to heaven?
I suppose you could argue that an artist, especially someone from a family of artists, would naturally be sentimental about artwork. But ceramic artist Gina Freuen’s love for a particular painting is more about the memories within it than the work itself.
“The painting was done by my mother when she was 33 years old and I was 5. Mom is 90 now. It is a painting of my great Aunt Maggie sitting in a rocking chair, with a curio cupboard behind her, book shelves and a window that looks out at a path that leads away from the house,” Freuen says. “ My mother painted this painting with naive skills. The rocker floats and the feet sit lower than the chair, but it shows the skills she was developing in becoming a wonderful painter in her mature years.
Freuen rescued the painting from her parents’ garage sale many years ago as they prepared to retire and move to the Oregon Coast.
“They had visions of a new, fun, retirement life and all of this old stuff had to go,” she says.
To Freuen, the history of four generations of women in her family is captured by her mother’s brush strokes and she couldn’t let it slip out of her hands. She brought it home with several other special pieces.
“My Great Aunt Maggie lived in the original homestead up in Almira, Washington. Our trips up there as children were looked forward to for weeks,” she says. “The path leading to the house (is) imprinted on my mind. When I picture the house, I picture the path. I picture Great Aunt Maggie standing at the door.”
The house still stands and now Maggie’s daughter, Eileen, lives there. The curio in the painting is still there. The bookshelves are still there. The path is still there.
But the painting holds a deeper significance in Freuen’s eyes.
“As mother moved into her Alzheimer years she lost her ability to paint, so having one of her early paintings is very important to me. She has never recognized the painting as one she values because she only sees skills that needed to be better,”Freuen says. “It could be said that memories are the most important to us not objects; this painting holds my most cherished memories.”
“If my house were to catch fire, I would grab it and run.”
Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard each week Spokane Public Radio. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at email@example.com
Paul Kjellander’s paintings hang in places like Bardenay and the homes of and offices of the notable Idahoans he has captured in oil. Now a painting of the Idaho Public Utilities Commissioner hangs in the State Capitol. Kjellander hopes it will be the first in a series of paintings that tell the story of the legislative process that will hang permanently in the hallowed halls. First I will tell you my conflict. I’m in it and I was born in the same Galesburg Illinois hospital as the artist. Kjellander, a former Republican lawmaker and director of Gov. Butch Otter’s Office of Energy Resources, appropriately painted the two chairman of the Legislature’s Interim Energy Committee, Republican Rep George Eskridge of Dover and Republican Sen. Curt Mckenzie of Nampa as I and Spokesman Review Reporter Betsy Russell were interviewing them. The painting, named “The Media and the Legislature,” is designed to tell the story of the press and its role/Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman. More here. (Idaho Statesman photo)
Question: What kind of special paintings do you have hanging in your house?
Curator Ben Mitchell is putting together an ambitious traveling retrospective exhibit of the works of Spokane artist Ric Gendron. Click here for a previous column detailing how this exhibit died during the MAC's financial crisis and was then miraculously revived.
Yet neither Mitchell nor Gendron can track down four powerful and uncommonly important paintings that, by any measure, should be included in the exhibit. These are part of Gendron's dark “Indian Boarding School Series,” which were a prominent part of a 2002 exhibit at Whitworth University. They were later displayed for sale at the Tinman Gallery in Spokane.
There were five paintings in the series. Gendron knows what happened to only one of them, “Inside Looking Out.” He was frustrated that it didn't sell, and he needed a new canvas, so he painted over it.
The other four? Nobody, including Gendron, has a record of where they ended up. Mitchell suspects they are hanging in homes somewhere.
I'm posting photos of the four paintings here. If anyone out there owns them and knows where they might be found, they should contact Ben Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These are particularly important pieces because of the Indian boarding school theme. Gendron is an enrolled member of Colville and Umatilla tribes. His mother was sent from her home on the Colville Reservation to Indian boarding schools in DeSmet, Idaho and Chemawa, Ore.
The depth of emotion he brought to this subject is evident.