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Lincolnton Art Crawl 2015 Featured Artist: Jen Walls

Art Crawl participant Jen Walls with “Satori,” a watercolor and ink piece, and mixed media piece “Totem Flock.”

Art Crawl participant Jen Walls with “Satori,” a watercolor and ink piece, and mixed media piece “Totem Flock.”

PHIL PERRY
Staff Writer

Sometimes the road to an artist’s “true north” isn’t a direct or even an obvious one. Jen Walls, 52, has lived life on her own terms and forged a path that has led her to new creative heights.
Having left a career as a banking executive to focus on raising a family with her husband, Ron, and to pursue her vision as an artist, the last three years have proved productive as she has found the time to develop and nurture her work as a mixed media artist.
After a friend asked her to attend an art class, Walls had what some refer to as an “ah-ha” moment.
“The experience was a revelation of sorts,” Walls said. “It is amazing what can happen in your life when you start saying yes to things and step outside of what you may feel is your comfort zone.”
Walls’ mother is a respected traditional watercolor artist but, while her creative influence is apparent, the stylistic approach of the daughter comes from another place entirely.
“What I do could be referred to as ‘outsider art,’” she said. “I never preplan and I regularly break the rules. I have complete freedom.”
The artist draws inspiration from a variety of sources, including shamanic folklore and primitive cultures. One particular trek to Portland, Oregon presented an opportunity for Walls to spend significant time with a person who drastically influenced her.
“I was attending a wedding and found that the groom was an anthropologist,” she said. “After a conversation, he offered to put me in touch with a Native American chief. I was very careful and respectful during our time together and he opened up to me about their culture and I was absolutely inspired when I returned to North Carolina.”
Walls, who makes her home in Matthews, believes that it is important to make time for whatever your calling may be and to nurture it so that life can be fulfilling and free of many frustrations that can manifest when people neglect their creative urges.
Best known for her ink and watercolor work that incorporates tribal patterns, symbolism and primitive markings, the artist teaches mark making and doodling via the Ciel Gallery in Charlotte, which offers fine art from local artists and an assortment of workshops.
Walls is active in promoting her work through art and pop-up shows and is contributing to a Miami, Florida organization that supports the Center for Great Apes.
The group’s mission, according to its website, is to provide a permanent sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees who have been rescued or retired from the entertainment industry, from research or who are no longer wanted as pets.
Walls will be participating in Art Crawl 2015 in Lincolnton and a her work will be available for viewing and purchasing at Art on Main.
For the time being, Walls will continue to search for inspiration anywhere that she can find it.
“I have been taking oil painting lessons and 3-D classes. Quite honestly, I pursue the things that bring me joy and inspire me,” she said.
The grandmother of seven is intent on finding the right homes for her work so that people can experience maximum joy in their presence.
“I try to put positive energy into everything I do and I am mindful of finding proper homes for my work,” she said.
Visit jenwalls.weebly.com for more information.
The 2015 Art Crawl begins on March 13 from 5:30-9 p.m. and the first annual artist studio tour kicks off on March 14 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Learn more about the event at lincolntonartcrawl.com.

Image courtesy of Jaclyn Anthony / Lincoln Times-News

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