Spring offers the promise of renewal, and local artist Lisa Quinlan-Heibutzki feels no differently, as she prepares for “Budgie's Garden,” her first major show in 14 years.
“I had created a lot of art work, and felt it was time to get it out there. I always derived pleasure, knowing that one of my paintings was being enjoyed by someone else. I had sold some individual paintings online, but felt it was time to do a show,” she said.
“Budgie's Garden” opened April 1, at Front Street Crossing, 227 S. Front St., Dowagiac, and runs until Monday, July 31. The show is cosponsored by Blue Dart and Cass County Council on Aging (COA), and features paintings of birds, flowers and landscapes.
Visitors will also see illustrations for short stories by notable local author, Charles McKelvy, and a joint work created with Lisa's husband, Ralph, who also has several collages of his own, in the show.
Quinlan-Heibutzki holds an art education degree from Western Michigan University. Previous shows included “Budgie's Nest,” which ran in October 2006, at the Hillsdale Annex (Hillsdale, MI), and a smaller affair, held in 2009, at the Livery (Benton Harbor, MI). She has also sold numerous paintings privately.
Blue Dart Art Director Sharron Ott hopes that visitors will take inspiration from Quinlan-Heibutzki's view of nature, “and by the way she works the materials to create an intriguing painting,” she said.
“I have always enjoyed Lisa's paintings,” Ott said. “There is a unique raw strength, while at the same time, being refined, and well-rendered. This is why I was excited to invite her to participate in the Engage Program.”
“Budgie's Garden” is part of a joint effort by Blue Dart Art and Cass County COA “to provide these shows for local artists, helping the artists share their work with the community,” she added.
The theme of “Budgie's Garden” also fit the season, Ott believes. “Being spring time, I thought that Lisa’s pictures would be very appropriate, as many of her works depict flowers and gardens. I hope it to be as if the flowers are coming up inside of the COA, when the people come down the hallway,” she said.
As an artist with disabilities, Quinlan-Heibutzki draws on influences ranging from Charles Schulz, the late creator of “Peanuts,” to Impressionist painters like Van Gogh, and Monet, and outsider artists who don't show up on the popular radar, she said.
“I taught myself to draw using 'Peanuts' comics at age five, and, kept drawing and painting. Visually, I am influenced by my own photographs, my stamp collection, and Victorian-era photos. My painting, 'Budgie Information,' was inspired by a vintage photo of a circus performer and her birds, with some obvious changes,” Quinlan-Heibutzki said.
Other inspirations happened closer to home, such as at Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (St. Joseph, MI). She began gardening there, after a raised gardening box had been built for members' use.
“I took pictures there, and based a few of the paintings on them,” Quinlan-Heibutzki said. “The painting 'Midnight Garden' is based on one of those pictures. I also took pictures of my own produce, and painted 'Make Your Salad' from them.”
Those activities ended up inspiring her show, in ways she didn't imagine. “I had never gardened, and it became a new hobby, that I found out I liked, and thought it would be an apt name to celebrate this show,” Quinlan-Heibutzki said. “'Budgie' is a nickname of mine, so it made sense.”
Whatever draws people to “Budgie's Garden,” they'll find no shortage of imagery to inspire, when they leave the show, Quinlan-Heibutzki feels.
“There's some variety in my art work, I think people will enjoy. Also I hope my love for nature and birds comes through the show,” she said.