Group show: Putting life on paper

Posted: Thursday, March 01, 2001

Painting can be like playing golf - you don't want too many strokes.

Wendy Parker Swedell recalled that advice from an art teacher as she was preparing for her upcoming show.

"It doesn't work out too well for me to try to control things too much," Swedell said. "I have a portrait in the show that's wild and free and may not appeal to everyone, but sometimes I like that fresh, scribbled look, off the top of your head, that's not polished."

Scarlet tulips, hot tamales and a newborn baby are among Swedell's subjects. Her art will be part of a group show opening Friday at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery. Marcella Stutte and Mary Stroeing will also exhibit their recent work.

Swedell's tulips were done on sandpaper, a medium that demands that the artist not belabor the work.

"I may have quit a little early on that one. I wanted to keep working," she said. "But it really eats up the pastels."

Swedell will have eight pastels in the show as well as a brightly-colored queen-size quilt with a tamale theme. A friend's newborn is the subject of another painting.

"It's kind of a weird choice," she said. "A lot of people do not like babies at this stage, but I really do enjoy infants. I wanted it to have that fresh, new-to-the-world look."

Swedell grew up in Juneau and she's known Marcella Stutte since she was a little girl. The three women studied art together with Jane Terzis at the University of Alaska Southeast. Stutte will have works in pastel, graphite, ink and watercolor.

"It's a smattering of everything," Stutte said. "A couple portraits, a couple outdoors scenes, and an Indian piece or two. I have a pastel of part of the totem pole Amos Wallace did by the old library."

The former library is now the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, and the pole faces Willoughby Street. A different totem pole faces Main Street on the other side.

Stroeing also works in pastel, watercolor and graphite pencil. She began working on this show a year ago, and planned to do a series of landscapes with the theme "A Year in Juneau." She changed her focus last summer, she said.

"My mother died last August, which put my intention in a different direction. So the show features my family," she said.

Stroeing will have five pastel portraits of children. She also has work that includes her father, uncle and grandfather. Many of the pieces were inspired by photographs, but she said they are not photographic.

"It's a little bit of spark of who they are," she said. "My hope is you can sense that person in the picture.

"I felt like I was someone blind feeling their faces as I put it on the paper," she added. "It was a wonderful process for me. It was part of the closure for my mom."

The group show with Stroeing, Stutte and Swedell opens with a reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday. The show will be up through March 30. Regular gallery hours are 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Riley Woodford can be reached at

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