News

Exhibit celebrates over 70 years of artist's work

January 16, 2014

Myra Omelanuk and her daughters Kathy Bahr and Joy Omelanuk pose at the annual juried art show at the Alliance Carnegie Arts Center in 2008. The painting of white peonies, pictured, won an award at that time and is currently on exhibit in the Memorial Hall Gallery 239.  Myra Omelanuk and her daughters Kathy Bahr and Joy Omelanuk pose at the annual juried art show at the Alliance Carnegie Arts Center in 2008. The painting of white peonies, pictured, won an award at that time and is currently on exhibit in the Memorial Hall Gallery 239.

A selection of Myra Omelanuk’s watercolors, which demonstrate her lifelong passion for painting flowers, is on display now through Feb. 5 in the Memorial Hall Gallery 239. The exhibit is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m

The artist is the mother of two Chadron State College employees, Joy Omelanuk, project coordinator for the dean of Liberal Arts, and Kathy Bahr, English professor.

Myra, who moved from  Augusta, Georgia, to Chadron in 2003, will turn 90 Jan. 30.   An artist’s reception for her will provide an occasion to celebrate her birthday and her art. The reception will be held Jan. 17 from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Memorial Hall lobby.  

Her daughters invite those who visit the show to leave a comment in the book provided.

Bahr said, “This show is a sampling of her life's work and will likely be her last formal exhibit.”

Myra has exhibited her work previously in several juried shows at the Carnegie Arts Center in Alliance, at the Museum of the Fur Trade, and in her hometown of Augusta.

In high school, she began sketching her friends and teachers and creating fashion designs.  She also helped illustrate the school yearbook and later designed invitations and other decorations for her prom based on characters from "Gone with the Wind."   She and her sister, Cora, shared a common interest in art and fashion; Cora sewed the outfits that Myra designed and sketched.

While Myra was raising her family with her husband, Michael, she sketched portraits of their children and drew paper dolls with fancy clothes for the girls.  As a military family, they moved so often she lacked time to pursue her interest in art until the children were grown.

When she and Michael were retired, he took up the hobby of latch-hooking area rugs, and she created designs for him.

Although she has used oil and other media, she has primarily used watercolor. She adheres to a strict practice of only painting from real flowers, many of which she grew herself. She believes that this is a much better way to capture light and depth, rather than painting from a photograph.

While Myra is essentially self-taught, she did take some art classes in high school and at the Gertrude Herbert Art Institute in Augusta. After her husband retired, she participated in workshops with her brother-in-law, Freeman Schoolcraft, an art professor. In recent years, she has taken informal figure drawing classes with a group organized by Kit Watson at CSC.

—CSC Information Services