Local artist Brenda Gamache recognized at Dahl Art Center
Photo by Charity Maness / Fall River County Herald Star
Hot Springs Artist Brenda Gamache pictured with one of her favorite watercolors titled ‘Moon on a Pedestal’, “It is my concept of the universe, we have so much energy out there that is good, it’s all trying to get in to us, but we have to accept it.
By Charity Maness
HOT SPRINGS – Hot Springs artist Brenda Gamache has been recognized at the Dahl Art Center in Rapid City in the current Emerging Artist Exhibit.
“This has been on my bucket list for a long time,” said Gamache of the honor to be recognized as an emerging artist at the Dahl Art Center.
Though she does admit that it was quite a bit of work to get there; 13 years of painting, several competitions, gallery recognitions, art shows and more were needed to even be qualified to apply to the Dahl.
“I am not a trained watercolor artist,” she explained of the seemingly long path to check off her bucket list dream.
Growing up in rural Spencer, S.D., Gamache loved the outdoors and connecting with nature. In her youth she dabbled in landscapes and enjoyed creative outlets, which eventually lead to a 30 year career in custom upholstery.
But her passion for watercolor drew her back in 2009.
“I remember I went to a lake with my son and it was so touching to me,” she said of the landscape she had painted of the lake that day. But she realized that the painting held personal significance to her; not to others. “So, I sought to bring emotion into my art. That to me is a huge connection; emotion and art.”
So Gamache began to use art as not only therapy but also as a physical and emotional response to processing her moods, all the while capturing those feelings and emotions in her work.
Most recently she was caught by a news story of a Palestinian woman who was killed while trying to protect her land; the farm being the family’s only source of food.
“From the feeling that story created in me, I created a watercolor titled ‘Face of War’,” she said. Face of War is a painting of a woman in a headscarf, with the look of hope, despair and pain in her eyes, yet the beauty of Mother Earth in the form of flowers upon her face.
“I like to lift people’s spirits with my paintings,” she said. “Yet, we cannot ignore the sadness in the world too. I am political, but only in the sense that I want kindness.”
Gamache strives daily to see beauty where ever she may travel and tries to convey her love of that beauty in her work.
“It’s interesting to hear what people see in my art,” she said with a smile, “what I perceive of my work may be perceived differently by others. Yet, I try to convey a thought in my paintings to bring out a feeling that touches the viewer.”
Along her creative journey she listened, watched and learned as people viewed her work.
“I found it was easier for people to connect with non-human forms,” she said.
And so began her personal discovery of earth bound and celestial mythological creations, with a nod to her favorite artist William Blake’s style of powerful symbolism; trees with faces, woodland nymphs, butterflies with heart, moons with expressions, and human faces with hidden innuendos and double meanings.
While her art was reborn in 2009, she feels her discovery as a recognized artist began in 2022 as part of Art of Kindness exhibit and a show at the River Front Gallery during the balloon festival.
“We had a really good showing at the River Front Gallery,” she said, with some of her art sold at that event finding homes in Texas. “I love Chance and Mike (Riverfront Gallery owners), those two guys are wonderful,” she exclaimed.
Feeling more confident after those successes she approached the owners of Wandering Bison about displaying local art in their new coffee shop.
“It didn’t take long to convince her,” said Gamache, “after all, coffee and art go so well together.”
It was here that the director of the Dahl saw her work and looked Gamache up to learn more of her artistic history and discovered Gamache had submitted an application to be considered as an emerging artist.
It was then that the real work began.
“I spent almost 4 months getting ready for this show,” said Gamache, “I had size requirements and had to have 22 paintings. It was exhausting.”
But now, only one week in to the emerging artist exhibition she has sold 8 of her 22 paintings and is thrilled with the recognition.
While her hopes are to eventually hold a show of her own at the Dahl, possibly obtain grants for larger projects, and teach classes on painting in her ‘free and loose’ style, a part of her heart will always belong to the promotion of artists.
Currently, as one of the founders of the Old Bank Maker’s Market, she is helping to bring aspiring artist’s work to the public.
Gamache has a gem of wisdom to share with aspiring artists, “Paint, paint, paint. Learn how to use your personality to guide your work, don’t force it and get your art out there for people to see and enjoy.”
In addition to the exhibit at the Dahl Cultural Café and Gallery through February 24, 2023 located at 713 7th Street Rapid City, Gamache’s art can be viewed in Hot Springs at the Wandering Bison, Many Moons Trading Co, the Old Bank Marker’s Market and Riverfront Gallery.