Beyer’s paintings take a look ‘Inside’ | Local News

Jene J. Long

Artist Gabriele Beyer is sharing her paintings in an exhibit titled “Inside the Inside Passage” at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center from July 1 through Sept. 30. The paintings were inspired by her six years of voyages through the Inside Passage.

Beyer said in a telephone interview this week that she had visited the Discovery Center for the first time in 2021 and spoke with Visitor Center Director Leslie Swada and became interesting in creating an exhibit for the summer 2022. 

“I had a vision of what I wanted,” she said. 

She already had created four paintings inspired by her voyages that were installed in the pilothouse of the wooden vessel “Orina” on which she had been traveling. She knew right away that she wanted to recreate those paintings in large sizes, she said, but didn’t have the wall space. When she signed up for the Discovery Center show, she finally had her venue to create those four panels in full size.

She said that on Monday, it was the first time she was able to hang those paintings together and really see how those works fulfilled her vision.

“I saw it for the first time really together on the wall, and I could step back and it was so exciting, because what it depicts is when you travel on a boat through the channels it’s just like time kind of is immaterial — you don’t even know,” she said. “Everything matches together, and you see the water and the mountains and the animals and everything becomes this kind of flow, and so this is what I tried to capture.”

She said that she has placed nine acrylic paintings on canvas in the exhibit. Six are larger, at 40 inches by 60 inches; one is 36 inches by 48 inches; and three are slightly smaller.

In 2002, Beyer said, she launched her original art business that focused on wearable art via paintings on silk. Her website at features a wide array of images of her silk art as well as some of her paintings.

In 2016, she shifted her focus to painting. At first she used mainly oil pastels, as they were portable and suited to creating works aboard the Orina. She switched to acrylic paints when she decided to create large paintings.

“My style is kind of a mixture of realism and fantasy and really colorful,” Beyer said, so “acrylics were just perfect.”

Beyer mentioned several times during Tuesday’s conversation how she has found life to offer many experiences that come “full circle.”

She spoke about her growing up years in East Germany, and how that time has affected her art.

“At the time it was a very oppressive, gray place,” she said. “My art was kind of an escape away from the gray and ugly surroundings, and I created my own beauty. I always wanted to be an artist but, when I escaped East Germany — that was a year before the wall came down — and I settled in West Berlin and I didn’t feel I had the financial backing to study art, which I actually always wanted to do; I wanted to be an artist.

She said that she instead studied business and communication, then traveled around the world before settling in North America. 

She then met her future husband, who taught her how to paint on silk fabric. 

“He gave me the gift and he showed me how to be an artist, and make a living with it,” she said.

When her husband became sick, she cared for him for two years before he died.

“I was just so grief-stricken,” she said, and she coped by working extra hard on her silk paintings. 

She still felt lonely after her days of working, however, and one evening she picked up a canvas and her paints and began to create new works.

“I found healing in the painting,” she said.

Beyer said that she first arrived in Ketchikan 10 years ago when the vessel Orina she was traveling on experienced mechanical problems and she and the captain moored at Casey Moran Harbor downtown for three weeks.

“I made so many friends right away,” she said, “and I always liked Ketchikan, so I traveled on the boat six years in a row. Southeast really grew on me. It’s like my adopted home.”

She was living in Friday Harbor in 2018 after her last voyage on the Orina when she met her current partner at a contra dance event, Beyer said. Echoing her earlier assertion that life offers many “full circle” experiences, she found out that her partner was from Ketchikan.

She now is located in a remote location in the hills of Washington state, and lives in Ketchikan in the summers.

Of Ketchikan, she said that she saw the town from the beginning as “a real community with a lot of artists and a lot of like-minded people.” She mentioned how she’d enjoyed the Monthly Grind events as one of those defining activities locally.

Speaking of her motivations behind her paintings, she said, “I’m usually drawn to places of nature and I find inspiration being exposed to the Pacific Ocean, the islands, the wildlife, the vegetation, the geology, the people with their rich art and traditions.

“Sometimes I feel that animals come and audition,” she added, chuckling. “I have this weird thing with animals; they come to me, they open my heart. I feel true love. You know what they say about true love is you love somebody just for what they are — that they exist, not for what they do or how much money they have — that is love and I think that animals really show me that.”

She said, “I just love them for the sake of their existence, and I feel tremendously joyful when I’m in their presence, so I paint them.”

She said that she feels like animals sense that somehow, and they often show up near her.

Beyer said that when she paints animals, she is careful to portray them in their natural settings, aiming to show the harmony between the subjects. 

“At the end of the day, we are part of nature, not above nature,” Beyer said. 

Beyer said “I see myself as a channel and an advocate for the natural world, which we’re all part of and we have to respect, and so of course, I’m drawn to cultures and places that have a spiritual connection to the land.”

She explained that her own connection to and feelings about nature that she experiences is what she works to imbue into her artwork, and that she hopes that people will sense that through viewing her paintings.

“If somebody comes to see the show I hope they would feel that and what I wish is that it makes them feel good,” she said.

“I believe in the power of art and beauty,” Beyer said, “and making this world which has so many problems a better place, and that could be that art is our small contribution.”

The exhibit can be viewed at the Discovery Center, located at 50 Main St. The Discovery Center is open at 8 a.m. seven days per week. It closes at 4 p.m. each day except Wednesdays and Saturdays, when it closes at noon.

Next Post

Matchbook Distilling Company Shares Recipe for Greenport Buck Cocktail

Even though Very long Island’s North Fork is recognised for its breweries and vineyards, its distilleries are also gaining traction, one particular getting Matchbook Distilling Business, the place spirits are in abundance. The appointment-only distillery, which distills gin, whiskey, and vodka, does not market cocktails but does supply recipes for […]