Homer artist's work is a tribute to parenting
When her daughter left home two years ago to travel and attend college, Homer artist Marjorie Scholl was inspired to create a series of paintings as a tribute to both of her children called "The Jess and Tuck Show " (A Mother's upbringing).
"This show is a tribute to parenting in all its glory and ridiculousness and is one way I can honor the time my kids and I spent together as a family," Scholl said.
In 2015, she created the first painting of the series and has been working on the others since 2016, dedicating the entire year to her commemorative paintings.
Awarded a residency at Bunnell Street Arts Center, she is spending the month of January at the gallery completing paintings for a February exhibit. The main piece she is working on is 128 inches by 84 inches and depicts her son, Tucker, watching her daughter, Jessie, performing in front of a large Alaskan crowd. The painting tells the story of Jessie participating in her mom's dance classes while Tucker preferred to watch.
In addition to sharing moments from her family's lives, Scholl is eager to present the idea of individuality.
"Jessie is extroverted and creative, while Tucker is introverted and imaginative and I'm trying to celebrate the two personalities," she said.
Scholl originally planned to exhibit a small show of these family-themed paintings in her home studio due to the personal theme, but as the show grew in size she decided to apply to exhibit at Bunnell. She approached her children with the idea, expecting they might feel embarrassed and was delighted that they were, instead, both excited and flattered.
Well-known for her paintings at Fat Olive's Restaurant and Bunnell, Scholl also shows her work in Anchorage and California.
Born and raised in California, she took her first art class - a drawing class - while she was in high school.
"I had this amazing French teacher who was also an artist and she taught me to look at the environment as shapes, shades and color," Scholl said. "She also helped me tap into an emotion. I felt like I was doing something that was important and right for me."
With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute, she began her career as a portrait painter, which led to commission work and summers spent teaching art lessons. Since 1995, she has made her living doing commissions and exhibits.
In 1997, she traveled to Alaska to seek out new adventures and fell in love with the natural beauty of Homer. She worked as a children's play group coordinator at Sprout and ran a dance studio for 15 years, teaching herself and others tap and hip-hop. All the while, she painted.
In 2013, she was invited to contribute a piece for the Valdez museum group show called, "Communities, Disasters and Change." Rather than portraying destruction, Scholl was inspired to feature a positive theme.
"Alaskans are tough and I wanted to portray how we overcome disasters," she shared.
Scholl's painting, "Tsunami: Headed to the backside of a wave," took her two months to complete. It depicts a tidal wave, with mountains and the Homer Spit in the center of the wave, fishing vessels in the foreground, and adults and children on the decks, drinking coffee and playing.
"I was thinking about fisherman and crewman trying to avoid the big wave and about how Alaskans are able to handle difficult situations," she said. "Having parents and kids hanging out on the boat shows how confident Alaskan parents are that they're going to make it. I wanted this painting to show how we, as humans, are able to overcome."
Scholl, in fact, believes that the human experience itself is art.
"Whether you're painting, writing, doing math - whatever inspires the person who's creating it - it's all art," she said.
For Scholl, painting provides a way to both feel good about herself and to inspire others.
"Some of the most amazing compliments I've had is when people look at my work and cry," she said. "It's easy to get overwhelmed with negativity and self-doubt. Creating something helps us grow and feel lighter."
Community members are invited to stop by during Scholl's gallery hours, Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., through the end of January. Several groups of middle school students will visit her at the gallery to discuss her paintings, as well as stewardship of local beaches.
Eventually, Scholl would like to create a coffee table book of her paintings, separated by exhibit and genre. For now, she is excited to be creating a body of work that honors the time she and her children spent together. While Jessie, 18, attends college in Washington and Tucker, 11, is at home with his mom and her partner, Frankie Opatz, Scholl considers this exhibit her way of honoring her children and a tribute to her daughter leaving home.
"Painting this exhibit has been the most fulfilling show that I've ever done," she said. "I get to pause and reflect on my best memories of raising Jessie and Tucker and it's fun to relive those moments."