Jane Beatrice Wegscheider and John Sabraw have little in common -- except they're both talented artists participating in Lawrence ArtWalk '98.
Jane Beatrice Wegscheider's first participation in the Lawrence ArtWalk was, well, sort of uninvited. Having missed the deadline to enter, she posted signs on her lawn and hoped ArtWalk visitors would drop in.
Now an official ArtWalk participant, Wegscheider will open the doors to her home studio, 307 E. Eighth, on Saturday and Sunday to show her mixed-media works.
Wegscheider, who recently completed a two-week residency at the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Ill., explores the relationship among landscape imagery, personal memories and sacred myths.
Her works incorporate drawing and painting, household items, colorful beads, found objects and fabric -- "lots of material owned or worn or used by somebody."
Her works are made up of layers of media and layers of meanings.
"In all of my works," she said, "I try to deal with serious themes in a playful way. I'm trying to bring the hard and the good things together."
She is particularly fascinated with images of Mary, which are displayed throughout her house and take center stage in many of her works. She is interested in "the mixing of high and low art," popular and avant-garde culture and how people take images and make them their own.
"I used to do more issue-related works. ... Now it's more subtle, and that may change," she said. "My art pushes the boundary, but it's done in a way that's not offensive and almost is an honoring of the audience."
Wegscheider has an extensive educational and life-experience background: bachelor's of art degree from Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.; the study of German and art history at the Erlangen University and Technische University in Berlin; master's of fine arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; fellowship to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine; travel in Europe, Mexico, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories; recipient of a number of grants and scholarships; several art education jobs; and numerous exhibitions.
A realistic view
John Sabraw also is looking forward to the Lawrence ArtWalk. He returned to Lawrence in February and has been creating works in a studio space he shares with artist Jeffrey Ritz in the back of Herb's Studio in the Malls Shopping Center.
Sabraw is known for his hyper-realistic oil paintings of objects, which he attempts to imbue with "instant, invented history." His subjects range from arcane objects to Kansas landscapes to the Jayhawk.
See Hyper-realistic, page 9
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Sabraw grew up in Lawrence and attended South Junior High School and Lawrence High School, where he fell under the influence of art teacher Pat Nemchock.
"She cracked the whip on my life," he said, adding that Nemchock helped him earn a grant to study illustration at the Pratt Institute in New York City. By the time he graduated from Pratt, he had written and illustrated a children's book, "I Wouldn't Be Scared."
"It was published within 24 hours, and it opened so many doors," he said.
Then, he found rejection. His next three books were punted. He began working as a designer for Gitano.
His friends who were working at the Andy Warhol Factory encouraged him to become a fine artist.
"I had to get a fresh start," he said. "I visited my family here and saw a faculty show at KU. A painting by (KU art professor) Robert Brawley just floored me. Six months later I decided to try to make it as a fine artist."
Sabraw enrolled at KU and spent the next two years trying to "relearn art and how to get in touch with my instincts." He turned to realism, and snagged his first group show in Chicago shortly before he graduated.
He next enrolled at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., to study with James Valerio, a respected realist painter. Within six months after receiving his master's degree in fine arts, he and two fellow graduate students had three shows lined up.
Since then, his works have been included in exhibitions in Chicago, Newark, Ohio, and San Francisco.
In Lawrence, Sabraw has found the local art community "invigorating" and has been able to concentrate on his painting full-time. He finds himself studying the color, surface texture and light of an object and then translating those things in paint.
"I think about the structure of paint and how it happens," he said.
"I'm not interested in illusion. ... It's observation over time. It's compression of time. You could look at this piece for 10 years and still see something different. It's about you discovering my love of the process of translation of observation in my painting."
-- Jan Biles' phone message number is 832-7146. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.