An Interview with Dottie Kurtz, Local Artist
When we make an effort to shop local and support small businesses, it's important to remember that this includes the artists who call our community home. It may surprise you to know that there are many authors, artists, and craftspersons who find inspiration to create in Madison. For this series, I'm featuring artists whose work can be found on display at the Madison Artists Guild and Gallery (MAGallery).
When shopping for local gifts or home decor, consider checking out the work of area artists for a one-of-a-kind piece. This next artist creates work that is both eco-friendly and full of heart.
I spoke to artist Dottie Kurtz whose work makes use of found objects and asked about her process, inspiration, and challenges to creating art. Here's what she had to say:
What is your background?
My background is in new homes and development real estate, business, and marketing.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
No I didn't. I fell into creating pieces with found objects when I had more free time 20 years ago when I lived in the North Georgia mountains.
What is your favorite artwork you’ve ever created?
My favorite piece is a memory frame I made for my daughter with artifacts from Cumberland Island in it.
What time of day do you feel most creative?
I don’t have a certain time of day. I can usually “feel” a few days in advance when I might be able to find some quiet time to go play in my studio.
How do you make time for your art, and would you say you have a healthy work/life balance?
Even though I'm now retired, currently my life is complicated since I also manage a non-profit here in Madison where we take in and distribute free clothing and small household items to anyone in need. Between this work and managing my property out in the country, I'm often left with little free time.
Tell us about the space where you create.
I built my first little studio on my property in North Georgia. It was in the woods and was a relaxing place to be. When I retired to the country life in Madison, I decided to build another studio but this time a little larger and with old windows strategically placed so I could always have a view of trees and the lake behind my home when I worked at a desk there. Over time, I have learned this space can only be used for my glass recycled pieces and grouted frames made with pieces such as broken china shards, costume jewelry, beads, and glass gems. I now also use an extra interior room for all pieces made with scrap fabric and old wool sweaters.
What inspires your work?
I am inspired by color--unexpected pops of color and mixing patterns.
Who are your biggest influences?
My biggest influencers were my parents. Both my Mom and Dad loved “art”. It lived in our home in so many different ways…a painting, a hand sculpted antique piece of pottery, a uniquely colored orchid my father raised, old collected books where hand-colored drawings on each page drew you in, and so much more.
Tell us a little about your workday as an artist.
As I mentioned before, I must constantly find that time. It’s easiest on a quiet rainy day when I can sit with good music, fabric scraps, glass, and frames all in different stages of becoming something else.
As an artist, do you have a favorite tool you use to create?
I’m not sure it’s well-known or even promoted that everything I make comes from recycled, reused, and repurposed materials. I have no “tools”. My pieces are just re-assembled.
That pretty mix of fabrics in a hand towel may have originally been a combination of woman’s pants and a dust ruffle. The cute heart or flower pin is a mix of up to four old wool sweaters that probably was full of moth holes. Those cute Christmas trees are made from the inseams of those same sweaters. The frames are often re-used, and borders are created to hold the grouted contents which are often shards of broken plates, costume jewelry and even old radio parts from my father. The glass garden gems might be made from a dessert plate, wine glass, glass votive and glass chess piece…all designed to be placed in your garden and catch the sun’s light. The “heart” and Christmas note cards are all hand painted on brown grocery store bags so even those bags get recycled in an unconventional way.
How do you share or promote your work?
My work is currently only located at MAGallery, and I regularly fill orders for a vendor at Lakewood 400.
Do you have any routines that help you be more creative?
If you call it a “routine”, I regularly shop thrift stores and yard sales to find pieces that I may be able to re-use.
What is your biggest barrier to being an artist or creating art, and how do you address it?
It continues to be finding time to create.
How do you determine what you charge for your work?
I want all my pieces to be at a price point where it’s an easy, and also sometimes impulsive, affordable gift.
What advice would you give to new artists starting out?
Do what makes you happy.
Follow my work for more features on local artists, and be sure to stop into MAGallery to see the art in person. The gallery is located at 125 W. Jefferson Street in historic downtown, Madison, Georgia.
Madison Artists Guild is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to education and encouragement of artistic endeavor in its members and the community through outreach programs, classes and workshops, social gatherings, and support of local artists through MAGallery. For more information or to become a member, visit www.themadisonartistsguild.org/