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

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