Updated: Jul 28, 2020
We have all been missing genuine connection in this very difficult year. The Main Gallery’s Meet the Artist Interview Series was born in the hardship of that absence. Until we have the opportunity to see you in person, we thought you might like to know a little bit more about the unique and talented group of artists that make up The Main Gallery. It isn’t a substitute for our genuine interest in you and the direct connections that make us thrive, but we hope it helps give you a bit of a sense of the person behind the art. Please let us know your thoughts on this series, and what you’d like to hear more about. We’d love to hear from you!
Q. How do you feel about the opportunity to re-open The Main Gallery after some long months of sheltering in place?
I am really pleased and relieved that we have been able to end some of the more restrictive shelter in place requirements brought on by the onset of Covid 19, and have learned how to better work with the extremes of the virus threat through safety precautions. We re-opened just about a month ago now, and it has been an absolute pleasure to sit on the veranda, welcoming old friends and new visitors, and witnessing the bloom of diners and chatter on the lawn below. The Main Gallery has been a local institution in Redwood City for over twenty years. It is housed in the John Offerman house, a beautiful yellow Folk Greek Revival style Victorian on the corner of Middlefield and Main. Originally built in 1857, it is the oldest surviving residence in Redwood City and, as of 2015, was officially included on the National Register of Historic places. As nearly a half century resident of Redwood City, I have seen this beautiful old house transform from a residence, to an antique store, and, twenty years ago, to a contemporary fine art gallery that is an integral part of the Bay Area art community.
Q. What did you do before you decided to pursue a creative path?
I am a first generation American, born and raised in San Francisco. I attended my neighborhood public schools, and, after graduating from Balboa High School, I received a BA degree and a Special Teaching Credential in Art for grades K through 14 from San Francisco State University. Fifty-seven years ago, I married my high school sweetheart. We have 2 sons and 4 grandchildren, and have lived in Redwood City for forty-seven years. I began my teaching career as a part-time home teacher for both the South San Francisco and San Mateo High School districts. In the late 70’s I returned to college to acquire a Special Education Credential at Notre Dame in Belmont and began working as a special day teacher at a private school for the next 4 years. I ended my teaching career with the Redwood City Elementary School District after 20 years, retiring from my role as a Resource Specialist Teacher in Special Education and an Outreach Specialist for Kennedy Middle School.
Q. When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist?
I have enjoyed dabbling in art throughout my life, but until retirement from education, I could never call myself an artist. My career as wife, mother and teacher took up most of my time. I took my first watercolor class just one year after retirement. I have taken classes from watercolorists Guy Magallanes and Jane Hoffstetter, who taught me my art, and I attribute much of my success as an artist to their wonderful guidance and patient teaching. When I began winning awards and selling my paintings, I realized my career as an artist was real. I began showing my paintings at The Main Gallery 3 years ago, and was honored to be juried in by the talented artists who make up this wonderful cooperative.
Q. What inspires your art?
I love painting! I enjoy working on a clean white sheet of watercolor paper or canvas, developing a painting from its beginning to its end. My ideas come from photographs I have taken or memories of places and times I have experienced. I paint many subjects, but my favorite is nature. Be it a flower, waterfall, mountains or a mixture of all, nature is the subject I seem to be drawn to. My days of hiking in nature’s back yard inspire me still. If I close my eyes I can hear the wind in the pine trees and the cascading ripples of rivers and streams. I can still smell the old growth of plants and trees artfully intertwined in a natural embrace; the upcoming rainstorm in the mountain air. I still remember the feel of the early morning coolness on my skin as we climbed steep paths to glorious views. All these memories and experiences are within me, and I try to recapture them when I am painting realistically or in abstraction.
Q. You work in both watercolor and mixed media, in both representational and abstract ways. Which did you explore first, and what led you to try your hand at the other?
Throughout many years of traveling and such, I always bought watercolor paintings. I never tired of them, and they still hang on my walls today, so it was natural to try this medium first. I have been painting in watercolor since 2004, but last year I decided I wanted to tackle something new. I chose to work in a different medium: a combination of acrylics and mixed media. I am enjoying the challenge of exploring new pigments and how they flow on canvas, and new techniques for texture and surface manipulation of the canvas. Sometimes it is very frustrating not knowing what the paint will do, and other times wonderful surprises occur by happenstance. I learn with each painting I do, and I am loving the process!
Q. Is your approach and process different for each of them?
They are different in some respects. I approach watercolor in two methods. One is more deliberate and the other spontaneous. In the deliberate method, I draw the image exactly as I want it to appear in the finished painting and glaze each layer to achieve the glow and luminosity I want. That same image in a spontaneous approach would evolve from a simple sketch of a few lines to determine where objects will be placed in my initial composition. As I paint those objects, they may or may not end up being included in the final piece. I enjoy the process of letting things happen, the happy “mistakes” of what occurs as I paint. In the acrylic abstracts, I plan a design with the mixed media, but once the paint is applied, I go with what is happening real time on the canvas. There may be 5 to 15 layers of paint on the canvas by the time I am done. The painting evolves as I paint, and I stop when I feel the composition is pleasing to me.
Q. What do you enjoy doing when you are not working on art?
My husband and I have had a fortunate life. We are blessed with two wonderful sons and their families, many friends, some as old as from early grammar school, and a lifetime of enjoyment in many activities with them. We have skied, hiked, boated, camped, back-packed, traveled, fished - you name it! The list can go on and on, and it has changed to include new adventures along the way. We currently enjoy life with our vintage cars, taking them on the road to car shows in California; sometimes even as far as Canada. Retirement has been wonderful. I am never bored - there is too much to see and do, too many new things to try. Life is too short to be bored!
Q. What advice would you give to a newly emerging artist?
Enjoy your art; let the juices flow. What happens is always a learning experience. Don’t pay too much attention to the critics; be yourself and create. Most important? Have fun!
For more information about Edna and her artwork, please visit Edna Acri.
To read other Meet the Artist interviews in the series, please look here:
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