AK Art: Travel enthusiast, painter shares her skills with students
Linda Infante Lyons didn’t plan on spending time producing much art when she arrived at Denali National Park and Preserve for her 10-day stay as part of the Artist-in-Residence program.
But it’s hard not to be in inspired by the vast beauty of the area, and the landscape painter found herself reaching for her oils and easels after a few days into her stay in August. She said she still found time to bike, sketch and take photographs of the scenery, which she’ll use for future inspiration.
Lyons was one of eight artists selected by the National Park Service from more than 250 applicants this year. Since 2002, the Artist-in-Residence program has hosted dozens of artists, who eventually donate a work to the park’s permanent collection, according to the Park Service website.
“I think it’s really important for artists to get away and recharge their creative batteries,” said Lyons, adding that it’s a good opportunity for exposure.
The program was one of many things on Lyons’ agenda this year. She’s taken five art-related trips in the past five months and had two museum acquisitions — one at the Alaska State Centennial Museum in Juneau and another at the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak, which is where her mother is from.
The 55-year-old Alaskan artist is a world traveler. She recently visited Munich for an artist residency, lived in Chile for 18 years and has a trip planned to Cuba in November. But Alaska is home and her Mountain View studio in Anchorage is a cozy space.
Her landscape paintings are the first thing you seen when you walk in. Mountains, trees and river scenes with a surreal feel hang neatly from white walls. The colorful clutter increases closer to her desk in the corner, which holds photographs, books and trinkets. Next month, she’ll open up the space to offer six weeks of classes to the public.
Teaching is nothing new for Lyons, who is a mother to three girls, a dog and a cat. Through the Alaska State Council on the Arts’ Artists in Schools program, Lyons has traveled to the Western Alaska communities of Gambell and Wales to teach schoolchildren art this year and in 2012.
As part of the program — started in 1977 — Lyons would live in a school for two weeks and work on collaborative murals with the kids. Individual painting projects were also an option.
For Laura Forbes, arts education program director with the arts council, Lyons is a great example of a strong artist who can also teach — not something you see every day. In photographs Lyons shared, she’s seen posing and painting with children, some pint-sized and some almost as tall as her. In some of the photographs the kids have their arms wrapped around the artist, huge grins on their faces.
Community involvement is another facet of the program, and a moment that sticks out for Lyons is when she was in Gambell and experienced the village’s jubilation over a bowhead whale harvesting. Linking arms and exchanging hugs, everyone from children to the elders came out for the event, Lyons said.
“That was absolutely beautiful, just to be there with the village and see the excitement on everyone’s faces,” Lyons said. “It’s very epic, that whole situation.”
It’s moments like those that make Lyons glad to call Alaska home. Whether she’s in Denali or a remote village, there are endless opportunities for artistic inspiration.
Click here to learn more about the Artists in Schools program.
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