Biography

I was born on a farm in southern Missouri outside of the small town of Willow Springs. In the middle of a blizzard, my mother gave birth to me at home (really).  I’m the youngest of four children. Early childhood was consumed by taking care of our livestock, completing farm chores, and fleeing to the root cellar during tornados (really).

The world of art seemed a distant blur. My siblings and I were forever making our own toys. My brother built model airplanes and my sisters fashioned horse stables out of popsicle sticks and riding gear for their plastic toy horses from leather scraps. I made papier mache puppets, painted school murals and made frogs on lily pads from yarn.

When I was eight, we moved to Columbia, Missouri, where my parents taught in the public schools. I majored in English at the first two colleges I attended but finally switched to Art when I moved to San Francisco in my early 20s. The city’s Museum of Modern Art became my second home. It was a million miles from Willow Springs.

At San Francisco State University, I studied with Robert Bechtle, Barbara Foster-Stone, M. Louise Stanley, Mel Henderson and Dennis Beal. I also took evening and Saturday drawing classes at California College of Arts and Crafts, the San Francisco Art Institute and University of California, Berkeley. I graduated from San Francisco State University with a double major in Painting and Printmaking in 1979.

I then joined Balzer-Shopes Plate &  Lithography as an apprentice film-stripper. After a couple of years working for this large pre-press company I decided I would have more overall experience in pre-press skills by moving to a smaller company. In the next five years at Graphic Impressions in Emeryville, California. I learned all aspects of pre-press production. My focus on the gray-scale in graphic arts photography enhanced my drawing skills. The camera taught me the correlation between highlight, mid-tone and shadow detail.

The Bay Area’s vast art community and rich art history were my “graduate school” education. Early influences included Nathan Oliveira, William T. Wiley, Roy DeForest, Joan Brown, David Park, Wayne Thiebaud, Richard Diebenkorn. I was extremely lucky to move into a large industrial building in Oakland that had been converted to artist’s studios. My neighbors and friends were all professional artists and helped shape my vision of “making a living as an artist.” One neighbor and friend, in particular, was Terry Schutte, a transplanted New York City artist who had been an assistant to Joseph Cornell after she completed her studies at Pratt Art Institute. I will always remember the day she let me hold a Cornell box (a gift to her from the artist) in my hands. As a lifelong collector of bits and pieces ­­– never understanding exactly why — Cornell’s work showed how those abandoned treasures might have a new life.

Cornell, along with Robert Rauschenberg, Kurt Schwitters, Esteban Vicente, Romare Bearden, Robert Motherwell and Raymond Saunders, became my guides in combining collage and painting.

Like the majority of artists, I’d always had to rely on a “day job.” In 1999, my husband’s new job provided the financial support for me to work on my artwork full-time.

Within a few very productive years, I attained gallery representation. Hawthorn Gallery in Birmingham, Alabama gave me exposure to a buying public and my first solo exhibition in 2006. The satisfaction of working every day and selling my work was extraordinary. Like every other profession, artists want to get paid for their work.  Hawthorn Gallery also gave me international exposure through juried admission to Art Miami in 2007. An interview with NPR’s “Fresh Air”, was broadcast during the Art Miami Exhibition schedule.

My work was selling well and my second solo show with Hawthorn Gallery, promoted by a full-page ad in ArtNews, opened on October 6, 2008. That same day, the stock market plummeted, beginning the crash we are all still trying to overcome.

I’m glad to say that my husband (now retired) and I settled in Florida, where the weather is almost always perfect and the lighting in my studio is wonderful. I’m back at work.