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 through Sunday, July 28, at Gallery 200, 200 Main St., West Chicago.
If you goWhat: "Facets of Kathy Steere"
When: Noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 4 p.m. weekends, through Sunday, July 28
Where: Gallery 200, 200 Main St., West Chicago
Info: (630) 293-9550 or www.gallery200.org
The title to Steere's exhibit reflects her many interests. She prefers variety and admits 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!"
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 in Lisle, 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.
When she looked at a pair of closet doors and saw inspiration for another mural, she made it happen, too. (Anyone who ever has painted louvered doors knows 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 a further look into the core of her artists' vision shows she can really draw. She is 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 West Chicago Public Library after noticing a "Post Your Class Here" sign on a hallway bulletin board.
The class was 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.
"I want people to be successful. As long as they have the fundamentals, then they can choose the medium," Steere said.
Her connection to Gallery 200 came when Heide Morris, gallery coordinator and West Chicago Cultural Arts Commission member, invited Steere to teach her drawing classes at the gallery. Steere has since become a member.
"I love the environment there," she said. "It's very calming."
Art is what motivates her, but it is not where her education began. After briefly majoring in music, she changed her focus to ornamental horticulture floriculture. 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 Steere decided she liked the idea of having an excuse to do something for herself, and enrolled in general art classes at College of DuPage. She saw a course for botanical illustration through the Morton Arboretum and felt inspired, she said.
The exhibit at Gallery 200 is Steere's 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 dissociate between my personal connection and how others will view it," she said.
The exhibit displays 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 midcentury artist whom she considers 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," Steere said. "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!"