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Thomas Francisco “Cisco” Martinez Jr., 54, died Jan. 5, 2018, in Juneau. He was born Aug. 21, 1963, in Ketchikan.
Taking inspiration from each other and here
Sandy Shephard demonstrates how she paints a watercolor image on Yupo paper at her studio Wednesday. Staff photo by Hall Anderson


Daily News Staff Writer

Sandy Shepard and Becki Trachsel Hesedahl have a friendship that clicks.

The two artists met in Ketchikan and quickly bonded over mutual creative grounds, learning from and motivating each other to expand their respective talents.

"You Inspire Me!" is the theme of this collaborative duo’s first dual art exhibit together, which opens Friday at the Main Street Gallery.

"We’re very excited," said Shepard, a 38-year resident ot of Ketchikan who first met Trachsel Hesedahl at an art portfolio class sponsored in 2010 by the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council.

Trachsel Hesedahl, a retired graphic and web designer from Oregon, had brought her love of transparent watercolor painting along when she’d moved to Ketchikan that year.

As it turned out, she and Shepard shared an appreciation for watercolor painting on a synthetic polypropylene paper manufactured by the Yupo company.

"It was wonderful for me to find out that somebody else was using Yupo," Shepard said.

The Yupo connection prompted them to get together to paint watercolors. Other media soon followed.

Shepard, who owned and operated the Fluke Signs North shop in Ketchikan from 1998 to 2005, works in acrylic and mixed media as well as watercolors.

She more recently has been involved with encaustic wax painting, a format first used by ancient Egyptians.

In 2011, Shepard taught a class on acrylic mixed media collage. Trachsel Hesedahl attended, and began to expand her media repertoire.

"Before that I was pretty much strictly transparent watercolors," Trachsel Hesedahl said. "Then I branched out."

They began doing more art projects together, and would talk frequently about new ideas, techniques and experiments in their solo work.

"I would shoot something by her, and she would shoot something by me," Shepard said. "All of a sudden I said, ‘That’s the name of our show!’ She said, ‘What?’ And I said: ‘You inspire me!’"

What’s more, their inspiration also flows from the people and natural sojournings of Ketchikan and Southeast Alaska.

"You Inspire Me!" is that the local people and area inspire us, too," Trachsel Hesedahl said. It’s more than just Sandy and me inspire each other. It’s the whole thing."

Many of the pieces in "You Inspire Me!" have a foundation in the flora and fauna of Southeast Alaska.

"One of my favorite subjects is the intimate landscape — the closeups of nature," Trachsel Hesedahl wrote in the exhibit proposal. "I love to peer into the grasses or bushes and imagine an entire universe down inside the cool green spaces. The intimate landscape painting becomes more than a portrait of a plant. They are transformed into a microcosm of the world."

One of Shepard’s pieces depicts a midwinter pond along Ketchikan’s Lunch Creek Trail. Several freeze cycles have layered the pond’s surface with overlapping circles of ice. Where the casual observer might view the work as abstract, the more practised eye of the Ketchikan outdoorsperson can recognize its natural inspiration.

The "You Inspire Me!" exhibit will have a total of 50 pieces of transparent watercolor, encaustic, acrylic and mixed media works — about 30 by Shepard and the rest by Trachsel Hesedahl.

Both artists also will have five or six long scroll banners, including a large scroll that they collaborated to make and incorporates their hand prints and the phrase "You Inspire Me!"

As of early this week Shepard and Trachsel Hesedahl continued to prepare for the exhibit.

Trachsel Hesedahl was anticipating packing up her exhibit works for shipment to Ketchikan from her current home in Oregon.

"I’m looking forward to being with family and friends," said Trachsel Hesedahl, who earlier in the conversation had said: "I love it up there. I miss it."

The response from her good friend and artistic collaborator had been quick.

"It misses you, too," Shepard said.


The "You Inspire Me!" exhibit opens with a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, May 3, at the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council’s Main Street Gallery, 330 Main St., and continues through May 31.

The artists Sandy Shepard and Becki Trachsel Hesedahl will have an artists presentation and demonstration from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4.