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The Optimist’s View

“The Optimist’s View” opens January 14

at Carriage Factory Art Gallery

(NEWTON, Kan.) – Artist Debra Clemente’s boldly graphic and energetic oil paintings express her colorful and optimistic views of life. Jennie Becker’s highly decorative but functional pottery reflects her commitment to improving the culture with positive and constructive influences. The artists will display their work in a new exhibit, “The Optimist’s View,” beginning with an opening reception and talks by the artists on Saturday, January 14, 7 p.m.

Jennie Becker pottery

Becker is a Wichita studio artist whose artwork is primarily porcelain clay. “I am diverse in what I make,” she said. Hanging wall murals, interior and exterior tile mural installations, porcelain sculpture installations, oil paintings and watercolors are all part of Becker’s portfolio. She has been a consultant for art in public places in Wichita and served as a Kansas Arts Commissioner for two former Kansas governors. She received her master of fine arts from Wichita State University and completed additional studies in Florence, Italy.

Debra Clemente artwork

Clemente credits her years of self directed exploration for her skill, but her passion for a life of artistic expression was seeded long ago, she said. “My childhood best friend was the daughter of artist Bill Harrison, a professional fine painter. I would have been content to just sit and watch him all day, every day. I didn’t realize until recently what a gift that early art exposure was to me. I learned it was a possibility for me.”

She earned her bachelor’s degree in visual communications from the University of Kansas and worked as an illustrator and designer for many years. After her children reached school age, fine art painting quickly became Clemente’s passion.

“My skills have developed over the years,” said Clemente. “I’m painting the Midwest landscape in a new way with a fresh interpretation. Visual recollections continually dance in my head until I give them another place to live. No painting leaves my studio until it sings. They don’t all have to sing the same song but each painting needs a strong voice and an enchanting melody. I love it when my art strikes a chord within someone else, resonating true to some experience in their own life, hopefully recalling pleasant memories and bringing a smile, just as the process did for me.”

One of Clemente’s large sunflower paintings, “Sunshine Grows in Kansas,” hangs as part of the permanent collection of the Kansas Governor’s office. “It hangs directly over the governor’s desk in his private office,” Clemente said.

The artwork of Debra Clemente and Jennie Becker will be on display and for sale at Carriage Factory Art Gallery through March 11.

For more information about the exhibit, call the gallery at 316-284-2749.

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