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Arts & Culture

Questions for Paula Owen: An interview by artist Gary Sweeney

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If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?

Ian Hamilton Finlay’s “Little Sparta” is an environment I would like to experience on a daily basis.

What do you do to relax?

I regularly go to yoga and Nia classes, and I love to take walks. Because my office is so close to the River Walk, I often take a walk break. My husband and I watch a lot of movies, too, and I always have a book or two going. At the moment, they are Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger and Nan Cuba’s Body and Bread.

Tell me something about yourself that would surprise your friends.

What? I’m an open book to my friends. They might not know a few things, like I hate licorice, my grandchildren call me Nana, or that I had a crush on Tim Gjellstad, the preacher’s son, in 7th grade.

If you could hire any one person to come to the Southwest School of Art to teach, who would it be?

Maya Lin, hands down. Her work fuses meaning and beauty while inviting physical interaction and reflection.

Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever met?

So many people come to mind, but perhaps it was Russell Means, who was a leader of the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. Then again, just last week I met artist Julie Speed and could have talked to her for hours. If you have your receptors out, almost everyone is the most interesting.

Can you describe your own artwork? I find your paintings symbolic and mysterious. Is that accurate?

Your description nails it, I think. I try to avoid intellectualizing when I am in the studio, so I hope they are sensuous, as well.

Just between you and me, don’t you think fiddle and mandolin music sounds like nails on a chalkboard?

Well, as you know, my husband Ben plays those instruments and is a fan of traditional music, so to be safe I’ll say that it depends on who is playing them!

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