2 artists, 1 show

Published 11:30 am Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Albert Lea Art Center is featuring the works of two artists who are inspired by nature.

Although they haven’t previously met, Susan DeVries and David Lenz both admit they love getting out in the woods or onto country roads to seek their inspiration. DeVries paints rocks and creates butterfly stepping stones. Lenz paints landscapes and elements of nature. This is the first show at the Art Center for both of them.

The opening reception for “Inspired by Nature” will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today at the Art Center. The show continues through May 29. Regular gallery hours are from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

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Susan DeVries

DeVries admits that as a child, she was fascinated by rocks. She said she spent every possible moment scouring the roads where she grew up north of the Twin Cities looking for agates or other unusual stones.

“I could see animal shapes in the rocks,” she said. She said her three children became very good at picking out rocks that look like animals, too. So she began to paint animal faces on the rocks. “The first one I made was horrible,” she admitted. “But I’m stubborn and I got better.”

She is exhibiting rocks painted as rabbits, deer, tigers, raccoons, turtles, frogs and even fish in a pond.

DeVries is also exhibiting stepping stones she’s painted with butterfly designs. She said she saw the idea in a book and thought they were really cool.

“I became known for them after the home makeover,” she said. An episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” featuring her family aired in December of 2008. “People would call from all over the United States. But they didn’t understand shipping costs.”

DeVries recently had surgery, so she is on a medical leave of absence from her job as a reading and music teacher as well as bus driver at Hollandale Christian School. So now she has plenty of time to paint. She also enjoys scrapbooking, card-making and crochet.

“I really miss the kids at school a lot, so I’m hoping this works out as a new avenue for me,” she said.

David Lenz

David Lenz said his job as a graphic designer, illustrator and cartoonist just wasn’t enough to satisfying all his artistic cravings.

After graduating from Northwestern College and living in the Twin Cities area, the Albert Lea native and his wife, Naomi, moved back to Albert Lea four years ago.

His wife got a job in Austin and Lenz was given the opportunity to continue doing the job he already had, except work from home.

He always said he was not a painter, but in 2006, he began to do just that. “I did it and I loved it,” he said.

“I can’t believe how much joy I found in painting – and how much frustration,” Lenz said.

Lenz said the time he is able to spend painting varies greatly. “Sometimes I don’t paint for a month, and sometimes I paint every day. It’s either completely on or completely off.”

Lenz said painting can be so relaxing. “But if I mess it up, it’s so frustrating,” he admitted.

He said unless he has a four-hour block of time, he doesn’t paint.

Lenz paints butterflies, birds and landscapes of scenes he’s photographed on Lake Superior’s north shore. His medium is acrylic paint.

“I tend to saturate my colors to make my paintings pop,” he said. “I can’t get enough of autumn.

“I love capturing certain aspects of God’s creation and the beauty of a scene,” Lenz added.

He will have at least 15 pieces in the show.

“I know the Lord has given me this gift. I want to see how far he is going to take me with this,” Lenz said. “I thank the Lord for this gift.”