When Valerie Winterholler needs to find clarity, she doesn’t have to travel far. While some find peace by skiing or mountain biking, she finds meditation in her art studio. Born and raised in Bend, Valerie has always pursued the language of expression, whether by studying drafting and violin in her youth or later while getting a degree in sculpture at Southern Oregon University. After attending to a first career in real estate management with her husband Tyler, it was by taking an Art in the Mountains class that signaled her return to a creative space and where she realized, “This is where I’m supposed to be, I know what I need to be doing right now.”
For Valerie, each painting begins on a Masonite panel, skimmed with clay and mounted on two-inch birch panels. Winterholler has an interest in the study of linguistics and the way we assign meaning to letters and symbols, so it is from that intellectual foundation that she begins each painting with a light, energetic channeling of “language” that has no meaning other than as a guide. “There is no focal point, unless I put it there,” she explains while acknowledging that those initial spiritual “guides” will disappear as she lays down layers of acrylic paint over them and then washes the paint back as part of her process. As a contemporary artist, she is aware of the relationship between artist, canvas and then to the viewer, and she revels in the sacredness of those bonds. “Art has a meaning we haven’t discovered yet, and that comes from our inner dialogue,” she says. Each of us will bring our own histories and memories to the moment of viewing her art, she explains, which is part of why even in ambiguity, her paintings connect with viewers so personally. “Viewers bring their own backpack of history,” she says as a nod to the elements of natural landscape that her paintings evoke.
A personal connection to art has moved Valerie’s career forward since 2002. Her first show at Magnolia is coincidentally in the same space that houses Peterson Contemporary Art, a downtown Bend gallery that currently represents her work. She also shows her paintings at galleries in Southern California. Connecting to past memories of place and emotion, especially during difficult times, has created meaning for Valerie. “I have realized people need to have beauty around them to make them less sad,” she says. While the scale of global events is massive, she notes her art is not created to save the world, or make a political statement, but to bring people necessary beauty. “I paint so I can paint more,” she says. It’s a return to clarity and the beautiful world of psychological space and memory within her artist’s mind. ValerieWinterholler.com
See Valerie's work at:
Peterson Contemporary Gallery
206 NW Oregon Ave. #1, Bend