Sally Owens Artist Statement
I was born in Yokosuka, Japan, and have long admired the graceful simplicity in Asian art and design. Though my family returned to settle in California when I was just an infant, they brought home with them much of the Japanese culture they had found so captivating. My parents were both teachers for whom travel and the arts are passionate interests. They made it a priority to fill their daughters lives with all manner of wonders beyond the limits of 1960's suburban Fresno. We traveled throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan. Frequent family visits to Yosemite forged a connection that endures to the present. Perhaps the greatest gifts my parents offered were their patient tolerance of my intensely curious, inquisitive nature, and their wholehearted encouragement of my childhood passions, ballet and drawing.
After six years of undergraduate work at the University of California at Santa Barbara, I earned my B.A. in Fine Art from its College of Creative Studies in 1983. Following graduation I retreated to the family cabin in Yosemite for some reflection and soul-searching. What exactly does one do with a degree in Fine Art? When no answers were forthcoming, I opted to follow in my parents' footsteps and pursue a career in teaching. After a year and a half in the park, I moved to Sonoma County and earned a multiple-subject teaching credential from Sonoma State University. I married my college companion, an avid outdoorsman, who profoundly influenced my direction, and continues to inspire me with his keenly felt love of nature and the land. Encouraged by friends in the area and potential job opportunities, we decided to return to Yosemite together for a couple of seasons.
Though teaching opportunities proved limited, the park felt like home. I found fulfilling work at The Ansel Adams Gallery and Mark joined the National Park Service as a ranger. Reawakened by the beauty of Yosemite, I began to paint again after a long hiatus. Overwhelmed by the grandeur of the local landscape, I focused in on the small but beautiful treasures that present themselves whenever one steps outside... a cluster of leaves, a feather, a branch. While artistic inspiration is abundant in the many majestic landmarks, I am particularly drawn to what is found in their shadows: common things with a quiet beauty that often go unnoticed. In 1989 I entered my first new piece in five years in the annual Yosemite Renaissance, a national juried show. It was warmly received, winning the award for Best Painting, and was purchased by the Yosemite Park & Curry Company for their corporate collection. Successes at numerous other juried shows encouraged me to continue, and I have gradually scaled back on my job at the Gallery to pursue art making with greater dedication.
Ours is an increasingly complex, fast-paced world. I find great satisfaction spending solitary hours in a simple pursuit requiring only brush, water, paint and paper. In my work I try to reveal the subtleties of the natural objects around us, and to illuminate the extraordinary in ordinary things.