Contributed by Janet St. George, Town Square Art Gallery
Barbara Lavallee fans eagerly await her annual art show and signing at Town Square Art Gallery in Wasilla. Join Barbara as she signs new art prints, old favorites, children’s books and her ever-popular calendars on Saturday, Oct. 8th from noon to 3pm for a very special Second Saturday event.
Barbara Lavallee, a native of Davenport, Iowa, grew up in Wisconsin and received a degree in art from Illinois Wesleyan University. After teaching art in Arizona on a Navajo Indian reservation, she took a position at Mount Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, Alaska in 1970. There were no village high schools at that time, so the boarding school served students from all over the state. Her experiences teaching there enabled her to see village life through the eyes of her students and exposed her to the various Native cultures of Alaska. Her stylized artwork celebrates the joy, resilience and work ethics that characterizes the Native lifestyle.
Now living in downtown Anchorage, Lavallee paints prolifically with many originals reproduced into limited edition prints. In addition, she has also become nationally known as an illustrator of children’s books. In collaboration with author Vicki Cobb, Lavallee has traveled to exotic locales like Brazil, Peru, Australia and Japan to bring back images portrayed in the “Imagine Living Here” series of books. Additionally, she illustrated “Snow Child” for Scholastic Press and the award winning “Mama, Do You Love Me?”, receiving the coveted 1991 Golden Kite Award for the Society of Children’s Book Writers for excellence in illustration
Lavallee is known for her happy people. People working, playing and living with smiles on their faces. Her watercolors portray whimsical, stylized characters in vibrant colors reflecting her interest in people. “I prefer to portray the magnificence of man... his joy and humor, his tenacity, his ability to overcome,” she says. A happy Eskimo child hides in the closet peeking out from under her mother’s parka, a Native dancer moving to the century-old music of a walrus drum or a hot tub full of friends on a snowy winter evening are just a few of the images Barbara has offered in her popular watercolors.
A single mother, Barbara credits her two sons, Chip and Mark, with adding immensely to the wealth of experiences and memories from which she derives a lot of the humor found in her characters. “They also shared the roller coaster ride of mom making a living as a freelance artist.” Lavallee can’t imagine her life without painting. “I want people to have fun. If people look and smile, then I feel the art is a success.”
Please stop by Town Square Art Gallery located in the Carrs Wasilla Mall (next to Alaska Cleaners), on Saturday, Oct. 8th from noon to 3 and meet Alaska’s favorite artist, Barbara Lavallee. Refreshments will be served. Advance orders accepted in person or by calling 907.376.0123. For more information visit townsquareartgallery.com or follow Town Square Art Gallery on Facebook.