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Michener hosts grasslands exhibits

By Wilhelmina Jackson
On September 25, 2016

During the Grassland Inspiration art show, different submissions were put on display for students to view in Michner Library last week. Photo by Alex Nunley | The Mirror.

UNC’s Mari Michener Gallery held the “Grassland Inspiration IV: A juried show featuring art and photography inspired by Historical Weld County” in the Michener Library on the first floor from Aug. 22 to Sept. 23.

The event was sponsored by the Northeastern Colorado Heritage League a local organization that promotes and preserves the history, culture and genealogy of the plains. As it states in the title, the theme of the exhibit surrounded the history of Weld County and the plains. Most of the pieces in the exhibit show pictures of the plains, dilapidated houses, animals and small towns. This exhibit consists of photography, water color, oil and acrylic and dry media. All these pictures show what life is like in the plains.

People who have been on a road trip has driven by miles of plains, watching the yellow and green grass speed by in a blur. The art shows current life on the plains including livestock and small towns.         

When walking through the exhibit, viewers might feel like they are actually there, walking through the plains, hearing the cows in the distance grazing lazily through the grass. Cars zoom by, blasting music quickly fading into the horizon. There was different types of art, and many of the pieces were interchangeable. The photos looked like paintings and the paintings looked like photos.

One of the artists was named Pam Holnback. Her combination of simple, but realistic art stood out from the others. She majored in art education at UNC and traveled the world teaching art in different countries, including Bolivia. Her mother and sister also majored in art education, and her father worked in advertising, but he built a lot of things in the house. Being surrounded by creativity allowed Holnback’s own creativity flow.

“Art and creativity was a huge part of my family’s life,” she said. 

Holnback paints contemporary and impressionist art. She typically does still life art, but her specialty is Plein Air art. This is a French word that means fresh air, or painting outside. This can be a difficult art form because when painting outside, there’s only a certain amount of time she has to capture the image before the light changes, changing the image completely. Typically, when doing Plein air art, it takes Holnback two hours to complete a piece she said. Holnback likes to paint landscapes, gardens and flowers.

“I paint my life,” she stated when describing her art. “My life would be out of doors, gardening and traveling,”

She discovered the show somewhat by accident, through an email someone sent her after she completed a previous show in Littleton. A UNC graduate herself, she was happy to participate in the “Grassland Inspiration IV.” She submitted three pieces called “Morning Light,” “Old School House” and “Field of Clover.”

In order to enter, Holnback had to turn in a statement asaing about how the grasslands inspired her. So, she took her husband and drove through seven counties in two days taking tons of pictures. Out of the tons of pictures she took, she painted seven oil paintings and only submitted three for the show. Out of her three paintings “Morning Light” won Best of Show. When talking about this painting, Holnback knew once she took the picture of the image she knew it would end up being a painting.

“The sky appeared silver…there was one bright spot of light. Everything around me looked metallic…I knew it would make a great painting,” she said enthusiastically. 

She took that picture when she was leaving Sterling one early morning. Her other painting, “Old School House” was inspired by an old school house she saw. Holnback said she painted this picture because she believed it told a story.

“It reminded me of Little House on the Prairie,” she said

Her third picture “Field of Clover” was picked just because she liked it the best compared to the others.

Holnback continues to travel today and is planning a trip to Ecuador next winter. Her next large project will be called “Inspirations of Ecuador”.

The Grassland Inspiration IV art exhibit was from Aug. 22 to Sept. 23, at the Mari Michener Gallery in the Michener Library.


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