Artist Kathy Steere embraces art in all forms, from creating wooden sculptures from downed trees to painting backdrops for school plays and completing a fine art certification in botanical art. Her collection of fun, fine and fiber art sums up the "Facets of Kathy Steere" exhibit on display at Gallery 200, 200 Main Street, West Chicago. The Gallery will host the exhibit from July 5 -- 28, 2013.
The title to Steere's exhibit reflects her many interests. She prefers variety, and readily admits that she would rather create art wherever she "sees" it than to be tied to one medium as a specialty. According to her artist's statement, "Art should be fun - fun to make, fun to look at, fun to have around. I like it bright, and bold, and big enough to see. If it is functional too, all the better!"
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A cross section of her portfolio looks something like this: Boy Scout projects, scenery from Benjamin School's theatrical performances, colored pencil illustrations completed during the Botanical and Art Illustration Certification program at the Morton Arboretum, Color Guard team photos with the flags she created and a tropical mural on an interior wall of her garage that incorporates the framework of a door to look like a bamboo ladder. And, when she looked at a pair of closet doors and saw inspiration for another mural, she made it happen, too. (Anyone that has ever painted louvered doors knows that it's no easy task!)
Asked what medium she prefers to work in, Steere answered, "I'm not great in one thing, but I'm good in many things." But to delve further into the core of her artists' vision, -- one realizes she can really draw. And she is very passionate that with good drawing skills, anyone can create art. With that notion in mind, she set out to develop a "Learn to Draw" series of classes for adults, which she introduced at the Library after noticing a "Post Your Class Here" sign on a hallway bulletin board.
The class was very well received and has become a successful four-session course that builds upon four basic principles: lines, shading, shadows and perspective. The classes target non-drawers and are taught in a way that is intended to be nurturing. Said Steere, "I want people to be successful. As long as they have the fundamentals, then they can choose the medium." She went on to explain that fundamentally good art can go from the sketch pad to a painting, wall mural, fabric or even a belt buckle.
Her connection to Gallery 200 came as an invitation by Gallery Coordinator and West Chicago Cultural Arts Commission member Heide Morris to teach her popular drawing classes at the Gallery. She has since become a member and confesses, "I love the environment there - it's very calming."
Although art is what motivates her, it is not where her education began. After briefly majoring in music, she changed her focus to Ornamental Horticulture Floriculture when her mother happened across the listing in the course catalogue. Said Steere, "It seemed like a good idea. It was creating art with flowers." After graduation, she worked for Jewel as a floral department manager and as a silk floral arranger for weddings.
It wasn't until her children were in elementary school that she decided she liked the idea of having an excuse to do something for herself, and enrolled in general art classes at College of DuPage. Again, while thumbing through the course catalogue, she saw a course for botanical illustration through the Morton Arboretum and, in her words, "a light bulb went off."
She finished her certification in Botanical Art and Illustration, and remained connected to the people she had met along the way. They established a support group of artists that have continued to meet monthly for the last five years. "It's hard to find the right group of people, but we did and it works. We encourage each other and critique each other's work," she said.
For Steere, this will be her first art exhibit. She admits to being somewhat apprehensive. "I'm resigned to the fact that not everyone will love my work, so I've tried to disassociate between my personal connection and how others will view it." The exhibit will display a variety of media -- everything from fiber art, fun art (acrylic, mostly, and whatever doesn't fit into another category) and fine art (primarily colored pencil, including her work through the Morton Arboretum program).
People visiting her exhibit will notice that her fine art works are signed K. Remahl Steere, incorporating her maiden name as a nod to her grandfather, Frederick Remahl, a mid-century artist whom she considers as the source of her talent.
"It's the first time I've put together a collection of my art and it's been an eye-opening experience," said Steere. "I hope that people are encouraged to return to Gallery 200 or to visit other galleries after viewing my exhibit. But, most importantly, I hope they leave smiling!"
A free Opening Reception will be held on Friday, July 5, 2013 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. at Gallery 200. Refreshments will be served and the artist will be available to discuss her exhibit. In addition, a special four-panel section will provide examples and further information regarding her "Learn to Draw" classes for adults.
Gallery 200 is a cultural initiative supported by the City of West Chicago and the West Chicago Cultural Arts Commission, and is one more reason West Chicago was named an Illinois Arts Friendly Community in 2007. Gallery 200 is open Thursday and Friday from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. For more information, including a complete list of current art classes, call (630) 293-9550 or visit www.gallery200.org.