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Artists find inspiration in variety of places

Artists find inspiration in variety of places

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Two artists inspired by nature and a photographer who creates images that push the boundaries of portrait and fashion photography are on deck for a show that opens next week at the Pump House Regional Arts Center.

The Kader Gallery will exhibit the mixed-media etchings of CathyJean Clark. Her show is called “Mystic Wisconsin,” and the works she plans on bringing to La Crosse are designed to evoke the spiritual and mystical forces that can be experienced in nature.

“There is an inner spirit that permeates all of life; I feel a profound connection to this spirit,” Clark has said. Living on an original farmstead in central Wisconsin about a half-mile from the Black River provides Clark plenty of opportunities to commune with nature.

Clark received her master’s degree in printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the 1990s as a nontraditional student. Since then, she has exhibited all over the United States and Hungary.

Recent career highlights include an exhibit at the International Print Center in New York City, as well as a special showing at Christie’s in Rockefeller Plaza.

Sarah Pederson of Coon Valley, the other artist whose works will be exhibited, is likewise inspired by the natural world — although her show has a somewhat different slant since its overriding theme is survival.

“I always loved drawing and art, but I was incredibly shy as a kid,” said Pederson, who grew up in Sun Prairie. “The only avenue to make a living seemed to be teaching, and I wouldn’t have been comfortable with that — although now I would.”

This will be Pederson’s first public exhibition. Since her family moved to Coon Valley, she decided to be a stay-at-home mother while pursuing an arts-centered career, mostly by painting commissioned murals that use the natural world to inspire feelings of calmness and tranquility. This exhibit, however, will veer a bit from that approach to focus on survival in nature

Pederson is a big fan of trompe l’oeil, the French name for the technique of fooling the eye into seeing depth and three-dimensions on a flat surface. She said that The Pump House show gave her a little more freedom to create than she gets when painting for a client.

Viewers who look closely at the paintings in “Survival” will be rewarded with some surprises. “It’s fun for me to have the freedom to throw in weird and quirky things,” Pederson said.

Rounding out The Pump House show will be the photographs of Tim Pahs. President of the La Crosse’s East Bank Artists Association since 2004, Pahs also is an artist, but he admits to an abiding passion for photography as well.

The theme of his show is “The Artist’s Muse,” and, for him, that muse is inspired by other artists, models and musicians. It is clear that these are not spur-of-the-moment photographs.

“These are all pictures I’ve set up,” Pahs said. “Usually, I’ll have an idea in my head. I think about it ahead of time and then organize it ahead of time.”

One of Pahs’ photographs in The Pump House exhibit — The Alter Ego — won Best of Show at the Wisconsin Regional Arts Program this spring at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.


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