Putting familiar scenes into a different light

Posted: Thursday, May 03, 2001

Paintings by Sue Kraft

Opening reception 4:30-6:30 Friday at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Gallery, through May.

Light-dappled devil's club, wet stones and Juneau homes in evening sun - the scenes and subjects may be familiar, but Juneau painter Sue Kraft presents them in a different light.

"She's done some beautiful shell paintings," said David Hunsaker, a longtime fan of Kraft's work. "On one hand they appear to be realistic, but on the other hand she shows you things in a way you haven't seen them before."

Kraft is exhibiting 25 new paintings this month at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Gallery. The show opens Friday with a reception at the gallery.

Kraft's paintings are in the collection of the Anchorage Historical and Fine Art Museum, and since 1978 she's had 18 paintings, drawings and watercolors accepted in the All Alaska Juried Art Exhibition. Her paintings range from five-foot-square canvases to tiny paintings just a few inches across.

"She's a bold painter, but in person she's shy," said Peter Metcalfe, who has several of Kraft's paintings. "I've seen her go through many phases as far as what she's interested in - seascapes that are almost abstract, various buildings around Juneau in a point of view that's very different. Things like still life, but within a style range that I can tell its a Sue Kraft. She'll experiment."

Annie Caulkins, Hunsaker's wife, is another fan of Kraft's work. She first met Kraft in 1972 when they were both living in Craig.

"At that time Sue was painting and constructing huge fabric pieces and raising four kids," she said. "She has an incredible in-depth feel for colors. She really takes her time, you really notice nuance and detail, and the way she uses color, the moodiness of it. She's a good observer and spends a lot of time looking at things, the small things in life around us."

Kraft is a graphic designer by trade, working in Anchorage for many years before moving to Juneau in 1990. She said she's been drawing since she was very young and began painting when she was in high school in Washington. She said the paintings in this show, all done over the past year, were inspired by nature.

"It kind of splits into groups. There's water, devil's club, rocks, flowers and shells," Kraft said. "There's a lot of small objects done quite large, a couple shells and rocks and a still life, about 30 by 30 inches. They become something else. When I work with water it's more the feeling of what water does."

Kraft said her paintings are usually large.

"It's more exciting to me," she said. "Most of the things I paint, I simplify them. And I have more room to do things in a larger painting. I purposely did smaller ones this time because my house is getting too full."

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

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