By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Ann Beck often sees her art hanging from people’s ears.
Her handcrafted earrings are a familiar fashion statement in Bowling Green, where she sells them at the Black Swamp Arts Festival and at the Christmas Boutique hosted by Grounds for Thought, and elsewhere.
Less common is a chance for her to see her paintings hanging from walls. Beck and art lovers have that opportunity this month during an exhibit at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green.
The paintings are clearly by the same hand as the earrings with their bright colors and bold shapes, styled figures set in vivid landscapes.
Though the paintings were created in the past three years, they represent a life in art that’s taken Beck, 49, from her native Colorado, to New Mexico, New Zealand and Bowling Green.
The nature and myths of those places are all infused in the paintings.
“I was one of those kids who always draws constantly,” Beck said of her start. In high school she had an inspiring art teacher. “I have a lot of success, and got a lot of awards.”
But when she went to Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, she hesitated about making art a career. She wanted to keep her art close to her and wasn’t willing to “work for anyone.” She’s still not sure what she was thinking. “I was just young and dumb,” she conceded. “I took a ton of art classes, and just dropped out.”
She traveled always continuing to draw. “An artist doesn’t give up.”
Then she planned to return to study art education. But became pregnant. She and Kurt Panter, her husband, decided to start a family. She also worked in art galleries and apprenticed with a potter. “It was a different kind of journey for me.”
That journey led her and her family to Bowling Green, where Panter teaches geology at Bowling Green State University. She continued to work on her art as she raised the children. She showed work at art affairs, including the Black Swamp Art Festival’s Wood County Invitational Show. Back then she painted snowmen and Santa Clause images. She grew bored with that.
About 10 years ago, she traveled to New Zealand with her husband, who was on sabbatical. There she took courses and she was taken with the possibilities of “liquid glass” or resin.
That gave rise to her signature ear rings, which are created by painting on water color paper with acrylic, ink or watercolor, then sealing those tiny paintings with resin.
She also started incorporating the resin on the surface of her paintings. ““A lot of what you see in the paintings is remnants of jewelry themes,” Beck said.
She exhibits her jewelry at five show a year and has recently launched an online sales site annmbeckartist.com.
Given her sales and customer base she’s committed to continuing making jewelry, but she wants to do more painting, and would like to begin exhibiting that along with her jewelry at shows.
The paintings’ “bold design and color are more me.”
They’ve evolved to included spiral designs inspired by the art of the Maori people of New Zealand, and figures inspired by Native American pictographs and petroglyphs. They also include images of nature, wolf tracks and bear paws, that reflect growing up in the West
The art has “evolved,” she said. “It’s more representative of my life and travels.”
Two of the paintings have been accepted into the Rocky Mountain Juried Regional Exhibition in Montana.
The local show is “the first time all my pieces are up together.”
The exhibit continued through Oct. 30.