If time and money were no object, Karen would establish a national network of humane, no-kill animal shelters. Ideally, there would be plenty of land for the dogs to run and play on and cage-free rooms for the dogs to sleep in.
Karen Utz, owner of Philosophy Gallery on 9th and Madison and artist-extraordinaire, clearly has a thing for animals. Her bright, bold depictions of them – mostly dogs, but I've seen her do a cow and a giraffe, since moving to Paducah – clearly illustrate each subject's personality. The paintings are generally large, close-up face-shots of the animal subject and capture the personality and sensitivity in a cock of the head, bend in the ear or steady gaze of the eyes.
When I asked Karen what she would do if time and money were no object, I threw a couple of examples at her – a Christo-like installation in a public park, China's army of terra-cotta soldiers… some big, elaborate art project that, given your average artist's resources, would be only a distant dream. She had a few days to think about it and when I got back to her, Karen said that only one thing came to mind – the humane animal shelters.
That is sort of typical of Karen, who moved to Paducah with her husband in 2006. She is as beautiful a person as her paintings – caring, altruistic, committed to helping make things better for those around her. We are lucky to have her in LowerTown!
Karen and husband Steve came to Paducah from northern California. Steve's family lives close by and they could afford to build their dream house and gallery here. Karen, by profession a techno-architect (i.e. computer programmer), works from her home designing computer programs for clients all over the globe. The complex elegance of the programs provide a perfect counter-balance to Karen's artistic endeavors, which range from pastels to metal-work to acrylics.
Although she has always been an artist of some sort, Karen has only started doing the animal close-up paintings within the last few years. When asked what brought her to them, she told me that she had a Weimaraner, which if you know anything about that dog breed, you would know that explains a lot. Of all the dog breeds, Weimaraners' tend to be among the most expressive. It might have been that pet's influence (Karen attributes it to him), but Karen started seeing different dogs' facial expressions, caught in a moment and passing by. She wanted to capture those expressions that tell a viewer a whole story in one look. And she has.
Philosophy Gallery is located at 333 North 9th Street, at the corner of 9th and Madison. Among her own colorful paintings, you will find a happy variety of whimsical and unique work, from ceramics and jewelry to lamps and charms.
Contact Karen at 270-442-5280 to set up a time to visit or stop by the gallery during her open hours – Saturday, 1-5 PM. You will be just as impressed by the treasures in the gallery as you will be by the gallery owner herself!
by Erica Moore