The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

November 19, 2013

Art, not fear

OTTUMWA — The two artists featured at the Indian Hills gallery create art without fear.

"It surprises me when people are interested in the same things I am," said Lisa Fritz, an artist who teaches at the college.

Though it's a nice surprise, she acknowledged, she doesn't create her work with the idea of impressing anyone.

"I generally don't have an audience in mind," she said.

Monday night, at the Indian Hills Art Faculty Exhibition, visitors — some shy, others bold — expressed interest in her work. The large stoneware faces especially drew attention.

Mark McWhorter was the other art instructor who was showing work. Again, while working, he doesn't worry about what others will think.

"As a realist painter, I get to go to the place I'm painting," he said.

He's an "avid backpacker," so a lot of his work shows views he won't easily see again. Most are a day or two walk through wilderness.

"You can't just drive up on a road," McWhorter said.

He'll do preliminary sketches on site, then paint later, in his studio.

"It's a selfish art, in a way, because I get to relive that experience, to 'take a trip' a second time," he said.

He said because artists "have to make a living," they sell their work at shows. But are there views that mean something to him, paintings he won't display for fear they might sell?

"I'll show them. I just won't put a price on them," McWhorter said.

It's actually rare now that he does that; there's only so much space on his family's walls at home. Or upon their shelves: Besides painting, McWhorter creates pottery pieces. And though those drew attention, the landscapes seemed to draw the most interest. One series the artist was asked about was something he started for the first time this summer; he bases each painting on a high-tech image from Google Earth maps.

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