Local artist Steve Lawrie is creating a series of large-scale portraits of Sitkans on tapestry. His exhibition, “Faces and Places of Sitka,” displays a selection of that work, an introduction to a larger exhibit in the fall of 2019.
It is open to the public at 322 Lincoln Street (Allen Marine Tours lounge) during the Fall Art Walk, November 23rd from 5-9pm, and November 24th and 25th from 12-6pm.
Lawrie came to Sitka from New Zealand in 1973. He recently sold his fishing boat to focus entirely on his artwork. He is primarily self-taught. Lawrie told KCAW’s Katherine Rose he feels liberated for the chance to work on a bigger canvas made of fabric. “They give me room to breathe. They’re emotional. And I think that they’re engaging. The people are engaging,” Lawrie said.
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Lawrie says he wants his subjects to be made visible, especially those who tend to fly under the radar. “So I was talking to one of the gentlemen that is featured in this show. He’s an older man. He’s vital. He’s part of this community and has been for a long time. Since 1960. He described to me – and I’m aware of this – how he’s disappearing. As you get older, you’re not seen. My paintings – I’m seeing them in my paintings. I want to see these people. They get left behind.”
Lawrie paints on tapestry, so they’re easy to transport. He plans to bring a dozen of these works in New Zealand and bring short biographies of those profiled. He says, “It’s a chance for the Kiwis to see we’re all the same” and bring a human face to those in the United States.
“I get really defensive for us sometimes because [Americans] take a hammering overseas, for right or wrong. These paintings are a little attempt to calm the waters for what I can do,” Lawrie said.