Ketchikan artist stages first solo exhibit

A watercolor titled “Mood” by Ketchikan artist Lori Orlowski is installed between two of her paper mosaics titled “Night Lights” and “Sunset Reflection” on Thursday at the Main Street Gallery. This is Orlowski's first solo exhibit. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

In the First City, a new month brings a new exhibit to the Main Street Gallery.

After opening this past Friday, Lori Orlowski’s exhibit “The Space Between” will be displayed in the gallery for the month of November.

“The Space Between” includes watercolor paintings and “paper mosaics” – pictures made of painted pieces of paper that are layered on top of each other to create a scene.

Orlowski remembers being interested in art since she was a child.

“When I was younger, I just would draw all the time,” Orlowski told the Daily News about her start in art. “Like, I have stacks of old drawing pads and notebooks and then, I think in college, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. So there was one year I thought, ‘I’m just going to be an art major for a year,’ we’ll see where it goes.”

“I realized after that year that I didn’t think I could make a career out of it,” she continued. “It’s just something I want to do for fun, and I changed to teaching, instead.”

Orlowski moved to Ketchikan from Oregon to teach sixth grade at Fawn Mountain Elementary School, where she has taught for the past nine years.

While Orlowski has contributed artwork to First City Players’ seasonal posters for the past four years, “The Space Between” is her first exhibit.

“I think part of it (opening the exhibit) just has to do with this town, and how supportive this town is of artists and the arts,” Orlowski said. “I just kind of reached this point where I thought ‘you know, I think I could do this, and I want to do this.’ Just a chance to show, I don’t know, what I do. What I love to do.”  

Orlowski explained that the name of her exhibit was derived from her efforts to mix new and old techniques in her creations.

“So, it’s kind of like the in-between, but trying to connect them together,” Orlowski said.

In the exhibit, the paper mosaics is a new type of art that she blended with watercolor paintings for the event.

“I tried something new,” Orlowski explained about her mosaics, which often take the shape of landscapes. “… It’s paper that I paint and then I cut (it) into pieces and layer it to create a picture.”

Orlowski’s watercolor paintings are done in both black-and-white and bold color.

“Watercolor is probably my go-to, and I think my favorite,” she continued. “And I think my favorite thing to paint in watercolor is portraits.”

Orlowski’s favorite piece is “Night Lights,” a paper mosaic that features a sunset over an island, which she said took a long time to create.

On average, Orlowski can create a paper mosaic in around 30 hours. Watercolor paintings take her between five to 16 hours.

When it comes to creating a new piece, Orlowski said her process “just depends.”

“Sometimes it feels like it takes me forever just to choose something, just to decide what to paint,” she said. “For me, the hardest part is, like, getting started. It’s just the set up. Like, if it’s a portrait, it’s doing the outline. Once I have that and I can actually start to paint, that’s the most enjoyable part to me.”

Orlowski often draws inspiration for her art – specifically portraits – from photographs that she collects.

At 12 p.m. Saturday, Orlowski will lead an artist presentation on how to create a paper mosaic.