Creative heart: Arts festival poster artist shares painting’s personal journey

June 2018 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community
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Hollie Newton and her painting for the Silverton Fine Arts Festival poster. Submitted photos

By Brenna Wiegand

A painting by Hollie Newton of Salem has become the face of the 18th annual Silverton Fine Arts Festival.

“It looks like sunset and there’s a paper airplane folded from the score of Chopin’s Nocturnes, Silverton Arts Association Office Manager Meghan McIntire said. “It’s simple, understated and gorgeous…the colors are beautiful.”

A graduate of San Francisco Art Institute, Newton has been painting and teaching for more than 20 years.

When her brother-in-law Arthur Kemple died of cancer a couple years ago, Newton set out to make something that would speak about his life.

“He could create beautiful, complex music from his imagination, including for several movies and TV shows, and conducted choirs and orchestras, including the London Symphony,” Newton said. “I felt like he left before he completed everything he meant to leave. The plane represents the beautiful music he left with us and maybe some of the music he took with him.”

However, Newton struggled with the 36-by-48-inch canvas for a year and a half; the composition just wouldn’t
come together.

“When I heard about the contest I cut it down to the size they needed (18-by-24) and it looked perfect to me,” Newton said. “Originally it was a small paper airplane in a big canvas and it just needed to be all about the paper airplane.”

At Silverton Art & Frame, owners Molly Moreland and Scott Bruno broached the idea of floating the raw canvas on a white background and, with nervousness, Newton consented. The framed original will be auctioned off in support of the arts association.

Moreland said the jaggedness of the canvas told the story of the painting itself.

“That it came from a much larger canvas that the artist was ready to discard and how it went on to have a second life and third life – as the original framed artwork; posters and T-shirts it’s going to be – is an inspiration to artists, students and perfectionists everywhere, myself included,” Moreland said. “We are often quick to toss our work on the discard heap when it doesn’t come out like we planned. What Hollie did was a bold and brave thing.”

TV shows make it seem like you can complete work of art in under half an hour.

“That is not how real life is, that is not how my students’ art is; you must go through a process and learn to accept the accidents,” Newton said. “Sometimes you must start all over again; sometimes you need to cut something out… I like the human element there.”

Newton sticks to large canvases and tiny ones, which she sells through Art-o-mat machines. Retired cigarette machines are converted to dispensers of 2-by-3-inch pieces of original art.

There are more than 100 active Art-o-mat machines across the country, including, in Oregon, Lane Community College, Pacific University and Umpqua Community College.

“Especially for young people; I think it’s really important for them to feel a real piece of artwork and not just a glossy poster,” Newton said. She also likes bringing art into the community through events including the monthly Salem
Art Walk.

This year’s contest parameters were a departure from years past, when they asked for somewhat literal translations of the festival – the park; paintbrushes and such. This year artists were encouraged not to paint for a theme but to define the festival in their own way; 120 submissions were received.

“All the pieces were so different but all of them had one thing in common; none of them were what you’d expect when you say paint something for a festival,” McIntire said.

A function of Silverton Arts Association, the Silverton Fine Arts Festival drew more than 7,000 visitors last year. This year’s has expanded from 85 to 95 artists’ booths. Festival posters should be available in the next couple of weeks through SAA’s website.

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