Artist presses her medium as far as it will go

Engineer is now an art explorer

By Keren Henderson Published:

Anna Marie Pavlik has watched the sun set on the nation’s greatest horizons, hiked to the depths of its most famous parks and canoed down the most spectacular waterways.

Today, the natural beauty of her new home is the inspiration for her most recent work.

Sitting at the dining room table in her spectacular Wapping Street mansion, Pavlik had just finished a morning of printmaking in her home studio. Her blonde bangs were neatly arranged under a handkerchief, and she was eager to talk about the pieces in her exhibit, which opens today in the Grand Theatre Gallery.

“In Texas, I was always waiting for it to rain,” said Pavlik, who moved from Austin two years ago. “I was tired of sun all the time and was ready for the variety of weather.”

The changing seasons, landscape and abundance of tree species make Frankfort beautiful, she says.

Nothing expresses that better than the big Gingko in the yard of the Orlando Brown House caddy-corner to her own historic home. The Gingko’s fan-shaped leaves are getting ready to turn brilliant yellow and will all drop in the matter of a few days.

As a printmaker, Pavlik uses several techniques, but she chose to make “Orlando Brown’s Gingko” a stratograph, which is a monoprint made with a silhouette cutout of the tree and dried leaves that she collected when they fell last year. She picked the technique because it allows her to incorporate the very leaves from the Gingko.

The exhibit, “Trees and Exploration,” features about 25 of her works and will be up until Nov. 3.

Another work inspired by Frankfort is “Paradise Lost” – Sandhill cranes stopping off in the marshy area of Cove Spring Park. The intricate layers of detailed etching incorporated in “Paradise Lost” give the work a depth that absorbs the eye and gives the mind time to consider its deeper meaning.

The idea came to Pavlik when the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Committee considered a proposal to open hunting season for Sandhill cranes – a move strongly opposed by environmental groups in Franklin County and across the state.

An environmentalist herself, Pavlik focuses on nature to show the relationship between people and their environment.

“By creating these works I hope to direct the viewer’s attention to the irreplaceable value, sublime beauty and mystery found within our natural environment,” she said.

Though she received an art degree from the University of Minnesota, Pavlik also earned a mechanical engineering degree in 1978 and worked for 20 years as an engineer with 3M. She’s now a fulltime artist and nature explorer.

Her analytical mind loves the layers, complexity and processes involved in printmaking.

“It’s about 10 percent inspiration then lots of research,” she said.

Pavlik has become an expert on copper plates, inks, solvents and papers. Fellow artists are impressed with her studio, which takes up two floors – the basement and third floor – of her home. Most impressive is her massive etching press in the basement.

“When I talked my husband into buying my own press, I knew I had one chance, one shot, so I wanted to make sure it was big,” Pavlik said about the press, which is 40 inches by 70 inches. That’s huge (and expensive) by press standards.

When she’s not creating art, Pavlik explores Frankfort and surrounding areas by bike and foot. She already drops local names and locations like a native. Outside Frankfort, she takes full advantage of the artist in residence programs offered by national parks, through which she’s visited Catoctin Mountain Park, Joshua Tree National Park and others.

Many artists aren’t aware, Pavlik says, that about a third of the nation’s parks offer artists a place to stay for two weeks if they teach a workshop while there and donate an art piece based on their experience.

Most recently, Pavlik taught a workshop at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. During those two weeks, she took several photographs and worked on sketches that she hopes to turn into a larger piece.

In Arizona, she also came face to face with a rattlesnake.

“I took some photographs and showed my husband who said I got too close,” Pavlik said.

Her husband, Richard Rosen, is often checking in on his wife during her adventures. Pavlik admits she has made up hotel names or told small fibs to keep him in the dark about her true plans – often a tent thrown up in the woods.

“He spends a lot of time worrying about me,” she said.

Rosen is the reason Pavlik is showing her pieces at the Grand Theatre Gallery. The couple is sponsoring Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals Oct. 26 at the Grand, and the exhibit is running in conjunction with that event.

“It’s Richard’s thing,” she said about the show. “In junior high school, he had a band largely based after The Rascals. I think it’s neat that we get to have him here.”

After a day of thinking, Pavlik remembered that her husband’s band was “Short Circuit.”

Pavlik has shown her work in countless exhibitions and galleries, and a few of her pieces are for sale at Completely Kentucky, but she also loves showing them at state and county fairs.

“Some people question showing fine art at fairs, but I love it,” she said. “I like that a whole cross-section gets to see it.”

Kentucky State Fair judges agree, awarding her with first prizes and best of shows. In 2011, her print was the only art piece purchased for the state fair’s collection.

“I was lucky enough to be that person,” she said, expressing her love of being embraced by Kentucky.

And now that she considers Kentucky home, Pavlik is working to get Frankfort on the national art map.

Through her efforts, Frankfort now has two listings in Art in America’s annual “Gallery Guide.” The Grand Theatre Gallery and Josephine Sculpture Park made the cut.

For anyone with questions or who wants to learn more about her medium, Pavlik encourages them to stop by the Grand Gallery through Nov. 3. She will be there from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday demonstrating different aspects of printmaking.

"TREES AND EXPLORATION"

Dates: Today through Nov. 3

Location: Grand Theatre Gallery, 308 St. Clair St., located on the second floor of the restored Grand Theatre.

Hours: There will be no special reception other than before and during the 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. concerts Oct. 26 by Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals and 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Thursdays

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