The first painting Juneau artist Dorinda Skains ever sold was a 38-foot-tall mural. Her first gallery show, "Introvert Extrovert," isn't quite as towering. It opens Friday, May 2, at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Gallery as part of First Friday.
"This is the smallest I like to work," Skains said last week, standing in front of her 4-by-5-foot "Watermelon Lily," in her sunny, Front Street studio.
"These others," she said, gesturing at three smaller, surrealistic florals, "are driving me crazy."
That's her inner-architect speaking. Skains, a classically trained painter who's lived in Juneau since 1992, spent 20 years working in architecture and engineering. She began painting 18 years ago, the last four years painting professionally.
In the last three years, she's been commissioned to paint four mural-sized public and private works - two in Fairbanks, one for North Pole Elementary School and another for Scenic Park Elementary in Anchorage. She will begin working this summer on a tiled mural for Anchorage's Kincaid Park.
"Architecture is three-dimensional, and that's what I really like about painting for buildings," Skains said. "You can walk through and see where to put art and how it fits into the space. A mural affects the entire room. You can think about how the viewer walks around it, as opposed to putting a painting on an easel on one wall."
"Introvert Extrovert" combines a few quiet, classical still-life paintings, such as a copy of Anne Vallayer-Coster's 1771 "White Soup Bowl," with louder, bolder, duotoned florals.
All the paintings are acrylic on canvas. The show runs through May 30.
"I wanted to bring the two sets together in the show," Skains said. "At the very last minute, I thought, 'How can I bring in a balance?' It seemed like two different personalities. One is introverted; one is extroverted."
Skains shops for fresh flower models at Miss Scarlett's Greenery on Seward Street. "Watermelon Lily" is a surrealistic twist on a lily that resembled a watermelon.
"What good is being an artist if you can't make up whatever you can make up?" Skains said of her appreciation for surrealism and fauvism, a French expressionist movement. "If I want to paint a rose with pink polka-dots, I will."
Skains, who considers herself more of an introvert, grew up in the Houston, Texas, area and moved to Anchorage when she turned 18 to escape the heat. She earned a degree in architectural design and managed large-scale projects for years.
While living in North Carolina in the late 1980s, Skains decided to try painting. She was classically trained at the University of North Carolina-Asheville.
Other highlights of First Friday
About a dozen galleries and shops downtown will be open for First Friday this weekend. The following galleries will have special exhibits:
Rick Clair, a Juneau artist who's been painting and selling work for 10 years, will have a show, "Creation Theories," from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 2, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 3, and Sunday, May 4, at the Empire Gallery, 235 2nd St. The show will be a retrospective of Clair's oil work over the past 10 years.
Annie Kaill's, 244 Front St., will host a show for Juneau artist Constance Baltuck-Hartle from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 2. The show will include acrylics and oils and nine new originals.
Rock Paper Scissors, behind Paradise Lunch & Bakery, will show a recent collection of works by Dylan Quigley from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 2.
"I did building design, and I did a lot of drawing all the time, but I didn't paint," Skains said. "I just walked into the college, and said, 'I'm going to see if I can learn to paint.' "
Skains finished up the prerequisites for her painting degree at the University of Alaska Southeast when she moved to Juneau. She also has a master's degree in management. She tried painting social commentaries at first, but decided it wasn't what she wanted to do.
"I just like to concentrate on beauty," she said.
Skains received a $325 grant for "Introvert Extrovert" in January from the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. She's done some figure work and pottery and hopes to expand into glasswork.
"I plan on going across the United States," Skains said of her mural work. "I try and get commissions outside of Alaska. I'd like to expand my mediums."
"My kids are grown, they're self-supporting and I'm single, so I have more time to devote to arts."