Editor’s note: Listen Up is a Q&A featuring locals in the arts and culture community.
This week: Nancy Dutmer, a painter from Chetek. She is one of four whose work is featuredin the upcoming exhibit, “The Chetek Gang,” which runs Wednesday through Sept. 26 at the Heyde Center for the Arts, 3 S. High St., Chippewa Falls. An artist reception will take place at a to-be-determined date.
Who is the Chetek gang? How did you all get together?
Years ago I had a gallery in Chetek. That’s where I met everybody; C.J. (Conner) and Don (Olson) and later I met Bruce (Marsh), who is a friend of Don. We’ve all gone our separate ways but C.J. and Bruce have a gallery in Chetek they opened last year. I have some stuff in there and then Don has some stuff in there.
Sometime when I had my gallery we did “The Chetek Seven” down there where we had seven different artists from Chetek show their work. That was fun, so this is sort of a spin off of that.
What type of artwork do you create?
For the Heyde show, Deb (Johnson — Heyde Center’s executive director) wanted me to bring a lot of big stuff. I do sort of vintage, circus-themed art and bead art where I paint on fabric and then embroider over it with beads. I did a series of 1960s’ women like Twiggy and Janice Joplin so those are going to be hanging down there.
I’m primarily a painter, sew my beads on top to make a picture, embellish paintings with that. Other pieces are oil paintings.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
History. And I like funny, humorous things. My painting, “The Dog Act,” is five dogs that were living in our family, not all together — my daughter’s dog, son’s dog and a couple of ours — and they’re all doing these crazy things in the picture. I like to do stuff like that that makes people go, “Oh, look at that.”
How long have you been painting?
A long time. I took some time off like most people do to raise kids, but then I got back into it.
I tend to like to make big things but now they’re all hanging in my house and I’m out of wall space. I come from a line of artists too in my family so it comes naturally. And I just love vintage art — vintage photographs and vintage circus, pin-up girls and stuff like that. I share that in common with C.J., she’s into that out there, odd ball-themed stuff.
How would you describe the other three artists in this show?
Bruce is a photographer and then he prints out his art a lot of times with computer alterations. He does that and makes his own frames which are very beautiful and uses a lot of natural wood. Don is a total wildlife landscape painter. He does beautiful stuff with a lot of little dots — up close you can see the dots, but farther away it looks like a beatufiul, natural landscape.
How do you four complement oneanother?
C.J. and I have the most art that looks similar in style because we both like weird, kind of out-there stuff. We like figurative paintings too.
Maybe just the variety of work. We have all shown together, and people that came in just loved to see the variety.
And we’re all good friends, so that’s a common denominator.
What can people who come to the exhibit expect to find?
They’re going to find good quality art, which surprises a lot of people who don’t see Chetek as having people who are artistic. They are always very surprised we have a great little art commnity in Chetek.
What do you hope people take away from exhibit?
I think they’ll enjoy it. I’m hoping they’ll take away fun and inspiration because that’s sort of how we all do our art.
Don will only paint something if it actually reaches out to him and touches his heartstrings. He’s got that real draw to nature and loves it so much, and loves the places he paints.
And I love all the crazy, kooky things that I do so much, and so does C.J. She has so many great themes in her artwork.
I hope people look at our work with joy. It’s not one of those shows where you don’t understand the artist’s concept. I think they’ll walk away smiling and that’s what we want.