In the back room of the news Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir, well-known local painter Anne Kinkade gazes at walls covered with her works of the last 30 years – water colors of houses, horses in a meadow and in abstract, oils of long-gone lumber mills.
Most of these 32 pieces have been loaned by private collectors for a Kinkade retrospective that will headline the grand opening of the downtown Dunsmuir venue next month.
“I am in awe,” the 80 year old Kinkade says early Thursday afternoon. “All these pieces came together for the show. I can see how the art evolved.”
She holds up her oldest work in the exhibit, “Cat on a Fence,” a 1981 painting that shows a cat resting in a neighborhood of colorful wood-frame homes in Weed, her hometown for the last 46 years. “The shapes of the houses echo the hills,” she says, pointing to the terrain in the background.
Kinkade says a roofline rising up from behind the homes is that of the Abner Weed sawmill. “I love those old buildings,” she said. “I learned all I could about them. I learned how to paint pipes and stairways.”
She points to a large, later work on the wall. “This is the old McCloud mill. It was built in 1910,” she said. “The lumber mills are where I started with art. I knew they were going to be torn down.”
The McCloud mill painting is a complex of buildings composed in oils, with heavy brush strokes standing out in relief. Kinkade says part of the texture came from gluing a collage of paper and fabric to the canvas before applying the paint. “It was really this color,” she says while pointing to the dark brown defining a center structure. “I added the oranges and blues. Artistic license,” she says with a smile.
In the museum’s gift store, three of her newest works are propped against a wall, waiting to be hung.
Using a technique called “encaustic painting,” Kinkade says she layers beeswax on a wood base, paints color on each layer, before covering it with another translucent layer of wax. Layer after layer covers a variety of colors. She then carves into the wax, revealing patches of underlying colors determined by which layer is breached.
“You can have 100 layers of paint and wax,” she says. “I heat the wax to 200 degrees. It cools very quickly.” It's always a surprise to her what colors appear when she carves.
The largest of her works on display in the museum room is a 12-panel encaustic titled “Henrietta's Quilt.” Suspended in layers of beeswax are samples of her weaving and remnants of an old quilt.
Page 2 of 2 - Siskiyou Arts Museum Executive Director Lauri Sturdivant said she planned for Kinkade's retrospective while the non-profit was still a vision in her mind. “I thought it was a coup,” said Sturdivant about landing the well-known artist. “Because everybody wants a Kinkade.”
Kinkade says she started painting by taking an art class in the late 1970s at the College of the Siskiyous, recalling, “I found that paint was my excitement – the smell, the way it flows onto the canvas.”
She painted for about two years before she began showing in galleries. Then, she was surprised by her popularity. “I became known for my horses,” Kinkade says. “People started asking for more. Then my friends would say, ‘I want an Anne Kinkade.’” She credits her husband Bill for convincing her of her commercial value as an artist: “He told me not to shortchange myself.”
Sturdivant said Kinkade's works are known throughout the state of California and up into Oregon. Her exhibit will be on display beginning with the Siskiyou Arts Museum’s grand opening March 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. through May 6.
Also showing in the new museum’s front gallery will be northern Siskiyou County artists Stephanie LaFortune, Rajiv Hotek, Jon Rice and Kim Presley.
Located at 5824 Dunsmuir Avenue, the Siskiyou Arts Museum will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays after the grand opening. For more information call 530-859-5554.