Like Enid Collins, I am a bit of a hybrid: part artist, part academic, part entrepreneur, part mother and wife. My professional background combines contemporary painting and photography, the gallery business and an applied-anthropological practice that seeks to expose and interrogate the hidden life of so-called ordinary objects and to explore their diverse social implications. I delight in discovery, when encountering “ordinary” art objects and when connecting with the people and stories that emerge from their design, fabrication and everyday use. As Enid Collins might put it, “I’m a mixed bag.”
I discovered my first box purse, Liz Gini’s “Don’t Piss Off the Fairies,” during a Las Vegas art walk. It inspired me to experiment with some of my own. I became a regular at the local cigar shop. I painted miniature scenes on vinyl for the fronts. I lined the insides with Carrot and Gibbs silk remnants and finished them with Kumihimo and vintage Lucite-bead straps. I’d found a new passion, and soon I’d amassed an embarrassingly large inventory.
But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit.
Before all of this, I studied anthropology and art while earning a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University, then went on to a long career in the airline industry. I earned a Master of Arts in Anthropology from Northern Illinois University, completed coursework toward a doctorate in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Colorado—Boulder, married and had two children, and settled in Longmont, Colorado. In 2002, I began painting full time, and studied with masters such as Mark Daily, Kevin Weckbach, Kim English, Quang Ho, Sherrie McGraw, Ron Hicks, Jake Gaedtke, Joni Parker, Peggi Kroll Roberts and Mark Nelson. Mining the intersection of contemporary art and anthropology, I began to use painting and photography to explore the representation and social landscapes of discarded, overlooked everyday objects.
In 2010, I teamed with fine-art jeweler Dia Kline (maker of Lady Luck and Publish jewelry) to launch MANIFEST Art Gallery in Niwot, Colorado. We conceived shows to draw out the local, the overlooked and the stealthily transgressive. Most focused on folk art. I continued developing my own work and in 2015 received an Interpretive Landscape award for "Motel Row," a triptych created from photos shot at the Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas. The piece was later featured in a solo show at the Darkroom Gallery in Longmont.
Running a gallery was demanding and I was painting full time. The pace got even crazier when we moved to a ranch in the foothills of the Front Range and expanded the family with two horses, a cat, a beagle, an English pointer, a couple dozen chickens, many dozen homing pigeons, a falcon and a fish named Harold. Yep. I was busy. Still, I never lost my nagging obsession with those little cigar-box bags.
To find out what happened next, read on: "About the Project."