Artist Gabriele Beyer is showing her paintings in an exhibition titled Inside the Inside Passage July 1-September 30 at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. The paintings were inspired by her six year voyages through the Inside Passage.
Beyer said in a phone interview this week that she first visited the Discovery Center in 2021 and spoke to Visitor Center Director Leslie Swada and was interested in creating an exhibit for summer 2022.
“I had a vision of what I wanted,” she said.
She had already created four paintings inspired by her travels, which were installed in the wheelhouse of the wooden ship “Orina” on which she was sailing. She knew right away that she wanted to recreate these paintings in large formats, she said, but didn’t have the wall space. When she signed on for the Discovery Center show, she finally had her place to create these four full-size panels.
She said that Monday was the first time she was able to hang these paintings together and really see how these works were fulfilling her vision.
“It was the first time I really saw it together on the wall and I was able to take a step back and it was so exciting because what it represents is when you’re going through the canals on a boat, it’s like time is kind of immaterial – you wear it I don’t even know,’ she said. “Everything fits together and you see the water and the mountains and the animals and it all becomes this kind of flow and I was trying to capture that.”
She said that she placed nine acrylic paintings on canvas in the exhibition. Six are larger at 40 x 60 inches; one is 36 inches by 48 inches; and three are slightly smaller.
In 2002, Beyer said she launched her original art business, which focused on wearable art through paintings on silk. your site below www.artbygabriele.com shows a wide range of images of her silk art as well as some of her paintings.
In 2016 she shifted her focus to painting. Initially, she mainly used oil pastels as they were portable and suitable for framing work aboard the Orina. She switched to acrylics when she decided to paint large paintings.
“My style is kind of a mix of realism and fantasy, and very colorful,” Beyer said, so “acrylics were just perfect.”
Beyer mentioned several times during Tuesday’s call how she’s found life to offer many experiences that “close the circle.”
She spoke about her childhood in East Germany and how that time influenced her art.
“It was a very depressing, gray place at the time,” she says. “My art was a kind of escape from the gray and ugly environment and I created my own beauty. I always wanted to be an artist, but when I fled East Germany – that was a year before the Wall came down – and settled in West Berlin, I didn’t feel like I had the financial means to study art, which I actually always did did wanted to do it; I wanted to be an artist.
She said she studied business and communications instead, and then traveled the world before settling in North America.
She then met her future husband who taught her how to paint on silk fabrics.
“He gave me the gift and he showed me how to be an artist and make a living out of it,” she said.
When her husband fell ill, she nursed him for two years before he died.
“I was just so sad,” she said, and she coped by working extra hard on her silk paintings.
However, she still felt lonely after her working days, and one evening she picked up a canvas and her paints and began creating new works.
“I found healing in painting,” she said.
Beyer said she first arrived in Ketchikan 10 years ago when the ship Orina she was traveling on experienced mechanical problems and she and the captain moored at the downtown Casey Moran harbor for three weeks.
“I made so many friends straight away,” she said, “and I’ve always liked Ketchikan, so I’ve been on the boat for six straight years. Southeast has really grown on me. It’s like my adopted country.”
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. Continuing with her earlier claim that life offers many “full circle” experiences, she found out that her partner was from Ketchikan.
She now resides in a remote location in the hills of Washington state, residing in Ketchikan during the summers.
Speaking of Ketchikan, she said that from the beginning she saw the city as “a real community with a lot of artists and a lot of like-minded people.” She mentioned how she’s enjoyed the Monthly Grind events as one of the formative on-site activities.
Speaking of her motivation behind her paintings, she said: “I am usually attracted to places in nature and find inspiration when exposed to the Pacific Ocean, islands, wildlife, vegetation, geology and people with their rich art and traditions.
“Sometimes I feel like animals come and audition,” she added, laughing. “I have this weird thing about animals; They come to me, they open my heart. i feel true love You know what they say about true love is that you only love someone for who they are – that they exist, not what they do or how much money they have – that’s love, and I think that animals really show me that.”
She said: “I just love them for their existence, and I feel incredibly happy when I’m in their presence, so I paint them.”
She said she feels like animals kind of sense this, and they often show up near her.
Beyer said that when she paints animals, she takes care to depict them in their natural environment to show the harmony between the subjects.
“After all, we are part of nature, not above nature,” said Beyer.
Beyer said, “I see myself as a channel and advocate for the natural world that we are all a part of and need to respect, and so I’m naturally drawn to cultures and places that have a spiritual connection to the land.”
She explained that her own connection to nature and her feelings about nature that she experiences is what she infuses into her artwork and that she hopes people will feel that when viewing her paintings.
“If someone comes to see the show, I hope they feel that, and I wish that it makes them feel good,” she said.
“I believe in the power of art and beauty,” Beyer said, “and in making this world that has so many problems a better place, and that might be art is our small contribution.”
The exhibit can be viewed at the Discovery Center at 50 Main Street. The Discovery Center is open at 8:00 am seven days a week. It closes at 4pm every day except Wednesdays and Saturdays when it closes at 12pm.