By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter
Walking through an exhibit of Alice Thaggard’s work is like wandering along an enchanted road. She has a characteristic way she likes to paint, and her subjects are often similar, yet each piece seems to embody a unique place in time and space.
Emotion vibrates from Thaggard’s liberal brush strokes, and the sense of sacredness is everywhere. Her work is naturalistic enough to inform the viewer fully about the landscape, but is loose enough to be imbued with an energy beyond simple representation. She is also one of very few painters in this area to be able to work acrylic as if they were oils, and quite convincingly. Originally working in oils exclusively, she has moved through the less toxic water-miscible oils and now has firmly planted herself in the acrylic-on-canvas realm.
Thaggard was born in Wisconsin, raised in Florida, and moved to Alaska in 1986 with her husband and two children. She lived and painted in Homer for nearly a decade, and now lives in the Matanusk
a Valley. Her work is exhibited in numerous venues in Alaska, including Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. The United Way of Mat-Su used one of her images on its 15-year commemorative poster. Another image was chosen for the course catalog by the University of Alaska Anchorage Mat-Su College.
Paths are a repeated theme in much of Thaggard’s work, and I find it interesting that she follows a spiritual path in her life, which seems to blend wonderfully with her creative pursuits.
I looked up the Baha’i faith online and found the list of associated social principles to be invigorating — the abandonment of all forms of prejudice, assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men, recognition of the unity and relativity of religious truth, the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth, the realization of universal education, the responsibility of each person to independently search for truth, the establishment of a global commonwealth of nations and recognition that true religion is in harmony with reason and the pursuit of scientific knowledge.
Invigorating is also a word I would use to describe
Thaggard’s prolific work. There is a palpable vivacity inherent in her paintings that speaks about so much more than simply a mimicking of the natural world. It seems she has searched for her own truth, and found much of it in the art she offers to the world.
Thaggard’s exhibit will be up at Art Works Gallery in Soldotna through the end of the month. More can be viewed online at colormyway.com.
Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works gallery in Soldotna. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.