Saturday, December 30, 2006


The local newspaper did an article about me it came out today in the entertainment section. It's right on even to the point of describing my husbands contributions to the interview. I am so impressed with myself. :)LOL

Artist intangled in intaglio.
It started out, as with most great notions, with a daydream.
In the early 1990's in Salt Lake City, Judy Vars dreamt of a cabin in the Alaska woods where she would have a studio and do her art.

"I would love to come to a place where I could make a living with my art," she said." That’s my Alaska Dream."

And here she is, tucked sweetly off Beverly Lake Road, with her husband Peter, carpenter and carver and ardent supporter.

Self taught, she did many jobs before concentrating on her work.

"So many things - I delt Blackjack, sold cars, worked as a Hospice person, and had a cleaning company here for several years," she said.

Working now in encaustic painting she started out doing assemblages with found objects and small boxed scenes reminiscent of Mexican Day of the Dead, boxed scenes of skeletons doing everyday activities, like doll house figures.

She happened on encaustic painting by chance.

I was a member of the Girdwood Center for the Visual Arts and a friend said, "Its right down your alley."

And it was. Over 3,000 years old, the medium used heated beeswax mixed with dammar resin crystals. Ancient iconographers used the wax mixed with pigment and then heated tools are used to manipulate the wax. Spread our on a rigid backing like wood. Sometimes the backing is covered with canvas. Vars likes using wood she's found because it has character.

"I lay a slightly wet printed paper on top of the wax face down, then roll the paper off layer by layer with my fingers, ant the toner stays in the wax," she said. "The wax is so open to things - it's so pliable and malleable. If you want to change something, it can just be warmed up."

Though it takes a temperature of 160 degrees to melt the wax, places like cars left out in the sun and places hear heating sources isn’t recommended; Freezing should also be avoided as the wax can crack.

She also does the transfer then mixed oil paint into the surface. The wax has a human skin feel to it and a luster if dulled can be rebuffed by hand.

"If you want to change something, you can even 20 years later,' she said.

The subjects she's choosing to do in encaustic are tending to be ageless themes.

"I lean towards icons - the duality of things is what find interesting," she said.

A skeleton with wings in one piece, a ravel flying over a salmon in a stream in another - above and below, death rising.

She admits going through phases with subjects and medium, which has thrown off potential funders.

Rather than looking for a common thread in her work, they can only see a jumble of seemingly different styles. Look hard enough and the duality is always there.

Overhearing the conversation, her husband comments, "I thing you're an evolving artist working in different mediums."

They want to see a bunch of stuff that hangs together, and to me, if I was Jackson Pollock, I’d get bored with that after a while," she said as she waved her hand across the floor as if throwing paint. "I want to so something else."

Many artists have a hard time parting with their work because they’re like their children they say. When asked if she had that problem, Peter chimes in again.

"No doubt," he says. My kids can inherit them."

Vars loves the idea on selling one-of-a-kind works of art with no reproductions available.

She will have some chosen pieces on display and for sale at her show at Espresso Cafe on January 6, with the opening reception held 6-9 p.m. The cafe is located at 1265 Seward Meridian, Suite A, Between Wall Mart and the Chevy dealers

Thursday, December 28, 2006

St Innocents Russian Orthodox Church in Anchorage

I took this picture this morning in Anchorage. I did not alter it in any way.

After reading about one of Alaska's famous artists
  • Byron Birdsall

  • painted the icons at St Innocents Church. I wanted to see these icons for myself. They took him 13 years to do all the pieces and instead of being paid in cash he was given indulgences. Well not being a Catholic I had to ask what are indulgences? (A remission of temporal or purgatorial punishment still due for a sin after the guilt has been forgiven in the sacarment of penance)wow.
    I have often thought about converting to Catholicism and now I have one more good reason. I could really use a few "indulgences"

    Wednesday, December 27, 2006

    New and Improved Artist Statement

    Artwork by
    Judy Vars

    My art has been described as eclectic, folk, interesting,
    bizarre. I agree.. If something catches my attention for more than 5 minutes, then I want to paint it. I am a collector and a packrat and find the ridiculous and mundane fascinating.

    I love oil painting but several years ago I discovered encaustic wax. This unusual medium has been around since
    The Ancient Greeks The diversity and intensity of this type of medium captured my attention!
    I have painted angels, icons, ravens, birch trees with encaustics. These are truly original-one-of-a-kind and due to the nature of the medium, cannot be duplicated.

    I moved to Alaska with a dream to live in a cabin in the woods on a lake and paint my surroundings. I am blessed to have realized that dream. My art is my personal vision of the world through dreams and imagination. It is my mission to communicate this and bring joy to others.

    I am available for commissions.
    I charge by the square inch

    Monday, December 25, 2006

    Madonna of Alaska

    In the Anchorage Daily News 12/24/2006 there was an article titled Madonnas of Alaska.
    Of course strictly speaking I am not an iconographer: an artist who creates icons, usually someone who is trained in a series of icon models and formulas that have been reproduced for centuries. Traditional iconographers have a series of "cartoons" they faithfully reproduce, which specify everything from tilt of the head to color scheme.

    Since the earliest icons used beeswax I was inspired to create Mary and Jesus using encaustic beeswax. This painting is owned by Yoby Henthorne a discriminating collector of icons and art.

    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    Girdwood and 43" Ho Ho Ho I'm not kidding!

    I stayed in Girdwood tending the gallery (Girdwood Center for the Visual Arts) Saturday and Sunday. It snowed all day Saturday and all night. I enjoyed the warm hospitality of my friend Mary McCoy, I even went to a Christmas party and met more some Girdwoodites. I also met the currator of Alaska Pacific University's Carr Gottstein Gallery Jannah Adkins. She was interested in my work for upcoming shows. WOW! Here are some photos to show what it looked like the next day.
    When this person got stuck it took a whole village to push him out.
    Here is a cute whimisical lamb made from old scrap iron from Laura Walters grandpas farm she had 6,000 pounds or 2 tons of scrap imported from the lower 48 I'll find out which state later.

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    I narrowly escaped hitting Bullwinkle tonight

    Hitting a moose is one of my biggest fears. There is road kill all over the place and people with some very f----- up vehicles caused by an unfortunate encounter with a moose. Before I moved here 10 or so years ago, I used to go out at night running around, shopping, visiting, going to the movies, having fun with friends. Then when I moved to Alaska and there were no bright street lights on the highway, if it snowed the plow trucks would come sometime tomorrow. I got out of the habit of going out every night in the winter.
    Tonight at about 5:00 p.m. it's already dark and I am going to get my son from practice. A great big bull moose ambled in front of my car, I'm doing about 60. If I put on my brakes I am going to slide into the beast anyway so I do some fancy driving and narrowly miss hitting Bullwinkle and just then another one stepped onto the road to I narrowly missed that one also.
    Oh jeez! I almost wet my pants! but I'm fine.
    I always drive with my seat belt and bright lights on in Alaska. I have toilet paper a coffee can, matches, cell phone, wool blanket a can of spam, flares, first aid kit and books on tape.
    This one is smiling isnt he cute? NOT!


    1265 Seward Meridian Prkwy Suite A
    Wasilla, Alaska 99654

    (Between Wal-Mart and Chevrolet of Wasilla)



    Original Oil Encaustic Wax Paintings

    Artists Reception
    Saturday January 6th 2007
    From 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

    Enjoy a cup of java and a snack

    Sunday, December 03, 2006

    Who was it that said "heal thyself"?

    When I went to the doctor last week I got pissed because he left me sitting in the room for a half hour he didn't weigh me or take my blood pressure. I asked him for some skin medicine, anti depressants, migrane medicine and something to help me lose weight, he asked me if I eat more than twice a day, when I said yes of course I do, and he said (maybe that is your problem) How rude! He gave me a prescription for Zenecal $158.00 for a 30 day supply and he said I'll get a belly ache if I cheat, oh joy! I choose not to get them or the anti-depressants. I took my own blood pressure at the pharmacy and it was high. It seems like he should have checked it as a matter of course. I went to the doctor to get some help maybe a lecture or a pep talk not indifference and insults. It's true most doctors don't work for wellness and good health they just dispense expensive prescriptions and attitude.

    I know instinctively and intellectually that pills are not the answer to what ails me but pulling myself up by my bootstraps and taking responsibility for my own health and well being is. So I decided to "heal thyself". Today is Sunday and it's the 9th day of my colon cleanse. OK I know it’s rude to talk about #2 so don't get me started. This process will take about 30 day’s total and costs about 50 bucks. If you believe that all disease begin in the colon and it really makes sense to me that clean pipes will make all the systems of the body work At peak efficiency. After a rough start I started feeling better. I exercised three times this week. Today I walked the dogs on the frozen lake and remembered to feel grateful for what I have. I watched The Secret on dvd great information and great motivation for "the first day of the rest of my life."