Arts Visalia exhibit exposes locals to broader spectrum

Seattle artist Teresa Getty’s show expresses her life dealing with a disabled child and the recent loss of her mother through abstract paintings


VISALIA – Artists draw from a variety of places for inspiration, including other artists. That is why Arts Visalia chooses to occasionally feature artists from outside of the area. This month, the gallery is showing the paintings of Seattle artist Teresa Getty.

”It’s vastly different than what we see here locally,” said Janelle Howard, gallery director.

Getty had sent a note to Arts Visalia saying she kept current with the galley and wanted to see if she might be able to display there. Howard jumped at the chance.

Getty has seen her own share of difficulties in life and that is why she perceives things as she does, Howard said.

Getty lived in Guam, Georgia, and California as a child. Although at a young age she perceived herself as becoming a doctor or scientist, she chose rather to delve into art receiving her BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she later taught. 

The mother of a daughter with progressive scoliosis, the struggles reveal themselves in her work, Howard said. 

According to Getty’s biography, each of her paintings has a story that begins with an everyday experience, a current event, an experience shared with her daughter, or simply a looking and seeing moment. While she works, memories surface. The work walks itself back into the past: memories, some peaceful, some dark. Without censorship, she allows them to flow into her mark, into her responses of lines and color.

Getty lost her mother last year, and that shows in some of her most recent work as well, Howard added.

The show, “The blue jay and the spine: we had a teapot on the side,” is a reflection of Getty’s work past and present. 

“The work is strongly personal,” Getty stated.

Her work responds to two significant events: one is the passing of her mom last year and the second is the likelihood of a spinal fusion surgery for her medically fragile daughter with so many unknowns. 

“The pieces centering around my daughter’s spine are layered, light and delicate while also being a little hazy. They become the horizon line of the exhibition. The place where the land meets the sky, where now meets tomorrow,” Getty said.

She added that the work is not dark or brooding. Instead they are hopeful works filled with connections to the stories that wander through her mind as she works.

“In contrast, the works that celebrate the memories of my mom are bold and bright as if memory itself brings things into a clearer light. They focus on two specific memories and play abstractly and very spontaneously with two symbols from these: a stellar blue jay and a classic tea pot,” Getty said.

She added that along with these large scale paintings will be framed accordion books. They have a strong relationship to the larger works in visual language and the immediacy of mark. They are her way of working almost journalistically, this is the aspect of the present. They offer respite, a place of slowing down and looking, a place to reflect on the visual language and how intricately woven it is with memory and storytelling, the creator of oral history, she said.

“The blue jay and the spine: we had a teapot on the side” will be on display through the end of May. All of Getty’s paintings are available for purchase. Arts Visalia is located at 214 E. Oak St. and is open 12 to 5:30 p.m., Wednesdays – Saturdays. Admission is free. For more information visit or call 559-739-0905. 

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