Sandy Shepard raised her daughter Laurel Shepard Kvale in Ketchikan, and now the artwork of both women will be displayed in their first collaborative exhibit at the Main Street Gallery through the end of the month, after the pandemic pushed the exhibit's debut back from spring 2020.
"Vision of Nature — Two Generations in Wax" features about 70 original pieces, made with cold wax and encaustic wax methods (combined with paint and photography) that draw inspiration from the Pacific Northwest environment. The exhibit opened on Friday and will remain in the gallery through Sept. 24.
During a Tuesday morning interview, the two women told the Daily News that they both have spent years experimenting with their mediums — Shepard estimated she has spent a decade working with wax, and Shepard Kvale, about six years.
"Laurel does the encaustic and I do the cold wax," Shepard explained. "The one has to be used with a plate and the other you can just dip it out of a can and use it as a medium with your color. It doesn't need the cold wax. I do the cold wax, and Laurel uses the one that it has to have a hot plate."
Shepard recalled that she began experimenting as an artist years ago.
"I've been doing art since I was a little kid, and I'm not a little kid anymore," Shepard said. "Just years of switching from one medium to another, like I did watercolors, I did acrylics and I just kept building on it with acrylic sites, tried to get my textures going. And after that, I branched out to the cold wax and encaustic, because you could do that with both mediums."
Shepard Kvale's art takes inspiration from her time as a photography major.
"My work starts with photography a lot," Kvale said. "I do a couple different kinds of transfers ... to the board with my photography," she explained. "When I first took my first class in encaustics, that was just really fabulous to see how I could transform photography and combined it with more painterly art."
Shepard recalled that she and her daughter took a class together from an Oregon-based artist named Linda Robertson.
"When I was taking a class, she was introducing using all these different things and she said, I'm going to give a class that does work with photography," Shepard recalled. "And I thought of my daughter, Laurel."
"It was my birthday," Shepard Kvale added. "It was awesome."
The mother-daughter art journey didn't stop at taking classes together. The two women decided to arrange for an exhibit to display their work in "Visions of Nature — Two Generations in Wax." It's the very first time that the mother and daughter have come together to display their work.
"I just thought I would like to do that with my daughter, because she had developed her skills so well and I had been working with mine," Shepard said about the exhibit.
Shepard Kvale described working on the exhibit as a homecoming.
"And it was nice to do it with mom," she added.
"Visions of Nature — Two Generations in Wax" takes inspiration from Pacific Northwest nature scenes, but also incorporates photography and other elements.
"I think we kept it to our title, which is 'Visions of Nature,'" Shepard said about the inspiration. "I think we did."
"I mean, (it's) primarily inspired by the natural environment, but I wouldn't say they're all nature," Shepard Kvale added, saying her own pieces were less inspired by nature than her mother's, because they incorporate figures and photography within the wax designs.
The exhibit originally was set to debut in spring 2020.
"So we planned on doing this last year, in May, and as we all know, May was kind of a disaster last year, so that postponed it another year" Shepard Kvale noted. "So an odd blessing that we got (extra) months of creativity in there."
Shepard said it was those extra months that caused the exhibit to grow to about 70-pieces strong.
Shepard Kvale continued, "So basically, we've been working on it for probably two years now, off and on, you know, I'd say that I stopped personally ... doing stuff after it got canceled last year. Because i was just bummed and life was a kind of a bummer. ... But then picked up again after a few months."
It's the pair's first exhibit together, so excitement was in the air Monday as they hung the pieces in the gallery.
And planning and preparing for the exhibit while apart from each other added a layer of difficulty to the project.
During the exhibit's preparation, Shepard was in Oregon — although she splits her time to also reside in Ketchikan — and Shepard Kvale was based in Washington state.
"It's a challenge to coordinate things with each other," said Shepard Kvale.
"So we would be working on things and I would show her pictures by taking a picture of it, and sending it to her and she would do the same," Shepard explained. "And then we'd talk and we would kind of critique each other's work that way."
More than a year later than expected, Shepard and Shepard Kvale finally began to hang their work in the Main Street Gallery on Monday, ahead of a Friday evening reception.
"(It's) a long time coming since it was canceled last year ... I don't want it canceled again because of COVID," Shepard said.
An artist presentation and demonstration will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the gallery. Attendees must wear a mask and pre-register with the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council for a seat.