Process takes precedence for local painter Kovac
As an artist and a painter, Milwaukeean Thea Kovac really stands out. Yet, it's not accomplished by her watercolors of natural landscapes and other beautiful mysteries found in nature alone.
Although they are full of brilliant energy and vibrant life, it isn't the subject matter of her work that makes it most noticeable.
Rather, it's something more discrete hiding out in the details -- whether planned or accidental, thought out or erratic -- that make Kovac's work truly her own.
"I wanted the paintings to be about paint itself," she says in an artist's statement. "I wanted it to be obvious that paint was the medium. I wanted to get watercolor and acrylic paints to move around as if they were alive."
And in a way, that thought is the basis for her entire fall show, "Exuberant Landscapes: A simple landscape is not so simple," which opened at the Garden Room, 2107 E. Capitol Dr. in Shorewood. The show opened with a reception on Thursday, Sept. 20 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 28. Kovac also teaches private art classes at the Garden Room, as well as in her Walker's Point studio.
The exhibit is a collection of non-traditional landscapes and scenery based on both photographs she's taken at Lake Park as well as vivid memories she's able to conjure up as muses. Everything about her works evokes life and natural energy -- and it has a lot to do with her specific technique.
"When I began to paint for the exhibit at the Atrium Gallery at the Garden Room, small landscapes seemed to fit both the atmosphere of the gallery and my desire to paint quickly, experimentally, and spontaneously."
To her, the idea of painting natural landscapes seemed "simple" -- allowing her to shift her focus and expression elsewhere. It's this expression, she says, that allows her to evoke invisible life energies.
It was perhaps this vital energy inside her that motivated her to make a major life change in the mid '80s and attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. Since graduating, she has worked full-time as a visual artist, art instructor (for MIAD's continuing education department) and workshop leader.
You can see more of her work in person this weekend at Wauwatosa's West Side Art Walk. Kovac is the featured artist at Underwood Gallery, 1430 Underwood Ave., in Wauwatosa. You can glimpse even more at Art and Soul Gallery, 5708 W. Vliet St., and at Charlene's Gallery 10 in Gil's Rock, Door County.
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