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 Kim Starr  (1956 - )

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Lived/Active: Washington/Hawaii      Known for: romantic realist portrait, marine and animal painting, sculpture

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Ad Code: 4
Kim  Starr
30x 40 oil on canvas
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is a feature story, February 11, 2009, on Kim Starr in the SnoValley STAR.com, the weekly newspaper of North Bend and of the artist's home town of Snoqualmie, Washington.  The author is Laura Geggel.

"Paint your cake and eat it too"

Starr is a supporter of snacks, especially ones she’s painted. The artist led a workshop at the Up Front Art gallery Jan. 31, showing people how to paint a Whole Foods Chantilly cake and a homemade lemon cake, before serving it to the artists.

Nan Gordon, a Sammamish artist who participated in the workshop, called it delightful.
“What we were really getting was the experience of hearing her point of view of how she paints,” Gordon said. “She wasn’t really trying to teach us anything. She wanted us to experience looking at something carefully, mixing the paints.”

Starr not only prepared the cakes, but also the canvases.

“I’ve stretched my own canvases since I learned in college,” Starr said. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”

The internationally known artist has chosen to live a low-profile life in Snoqualmie. Gordon, who did not realize Starr’s fame until the middle of the workshop, summed up the experience.
“She was a very open, soft gentle person, so it relaxed everyone. There was cake and coffee,” Gordon said. “It was delicious.”

The life of a Starr
Starr grew up in Republic, WA, on her family’s homestead amongst chickens and rabbits.
She began oil painting her third year of college at Spokane Falls Community College, where she got a degree in professional illustration and advertising.

Many artists look for established galleries to jump-start their careers, but Starr veered toward the self-reliant route, opening her first of many galleries.

“It was really small in a small town,” Starr remembered.

Still, it provided her with a backbone to found six other galleries. When she moved to Hawaii with her partner in 1981, he helped her run the galleries as they moved from island to island. Hawaii has a big art scene with a constant influx of tourists interested in art.

“No matter where you are, in Hawaii is a good location (for a gallery),” Starr said.

Amidst the sparkling Pacific and sandy shore, Starr painted beach balls dancing near the waves and models strolling down the beach. Many of her paintings feature waves rolling against the shore.

“There’s a lot of freedom with waves,” Starr said. “They show a transparency when they’re breaking.”

The beach balls proved a more difficult painting task. Starr tied the inflatable balls to a string and tossed them up into the air with her camera at the ready. Although Starr often took her camera along to photograph the scene, she said she enjoys open air — painting outside directly in front of the subject.

“I like it to be authentic,” she said. “You can get pictures anywhere. This is your own perception”

Her life changed in 1990 when her partner Patrick McIntire, by that time her husband, learned he had multiple sclerosis. The two are no longer married, but still friends. McIntire, also a Valley resident, recently wrote, Bouncing Back from Multiple Sclerosis, a book with a cover featuring one of Starr’s colorful beach balls, airborne above the sand and waves.

The couple moved around the next few years, from Hawaii to Port Townsend and back before finally settling in Snoqualmie.

A start in Snoqualmie

Now, instead of maintaining her own galleries, Starr exhibits her art in others’. Locally, people can view her art at Gunnar Nordstrom Gallery in Bellevue or at www.kimstarrgallery.com.
“I’ve been in the art business for 25 years and probably from the very beginning I was familiar with Kim’s work because she was extremely popular in the 80s and early 90s,” said Gunnar Nordstrom of Gunnar Nordstrom Gallery.

The gallery is holding a show of Starr’s work in August called “Romancing the Surf.”
“I’ve always been more than impressed with the way she handles paint on canvas,” Nordstrom said. “Her female figures, particularly the ones walking along water, have a fluidity to them.”
Her art is also displayed on the wrappers of dark chocolate — which has more of an antioxidant health kick than milk chocolate — available for purchase on her Web site.

Restoring her Snoqualmie house is another project on Starr’s list. Walking into her kitchen is like looking at an all-aqua catalogue for Pottery Barn: the coffee maker, cups, KitchenAid and even floor tiles are a pastel aqua shade.

A small sunroom serves as a studio where she oil paints and works on layout for her two upcoming books. Nearby, her cats sleep on white beach chairs after a quick snack of wheatgrass.

“They love broccoli stems,” Starr said. “Animals are really good subjects. They have a lot of emotion, a sparkle in their eye.”


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