If it is true that an artist's work is a reflection of her life, than Anne Calagaz seems to be a happy person. From her studio overlooking Mobile Bay, Calagaz paints mostly representational works with a bright, sunlit, yet low-key palette that presents only the best aspects of her subjects. She says that her palette is in fact getting brighter in recent works, not as a result of a conscious decision, but merely as a reflection on her mood and her attitude towards her work. And she has reason to be encouraged about her work: She is not only a well-known and respected artist and teacher in the Mobile area, but has also received favorable recognition in national and international competitions. In 1999 she was invited to join a group of twelve other international artists to show their work at an exhibition of contemporary art in Paris.
Calagaz was a late bloomer in her art career, though she says that she started drawing and painting with watercolors at about age ten. She always enjoyed art, but did not begin producing any sort of art until her three children were all in school and she had a bit more time to devote to it. Her approach at that time to a career as an artist was thought the back door of painting on china -- a form of art that has long been considered a "respectable" way for southern ladies to express their artistic proclivities in a socially acceptable way. After painting on china for a few years, Calagaz agreed to go with a friend to take a watercolor class at the Eastern Shore Art Center, and with that course, the die was cast. She says she was captivated by the broader range of possibilities of the "water media" -- watercolor and ink. After taking a few more courses at the Art Center, she decided she needed more formal training in other aspects of art beyond technique, and went back to school for a degree.
Calagaz says that throughout her career, from the early courses, through the academic degree and in her work since then, her style of painting has continually evolved and changed in ways that she didn't predict or even control. One of the most exciting things about being a full-time artist is being both protagonist and pawn -- being in total artistic control on one level but subject to the unknowable momentum of your uncontrollable artistic proclivities on another level. She says it is a mystery to her to look back at her earlier works and realize how far she has come as an artist, ad to contemplate the future with enthusiasm for the work without knowing what direction the work is going to take her. An artist, she says, has to be willing to go with the flow of the work as it expresses itself, almost as an independent entity.
Seeley's Gallery by the Bay
Anita was born in Obbola, Sweden. After receiving her bachelor's degree in education, and teaching for 18 years, she moved to Mobile, AL where she attended the University of South Alabama and received a bachelor's degree in fine arts.
She paints whatever interests her, color shape and the excitement generated by the creative process are far more important than the subject matter. Anita's heritage has given her the special gift to transfer some “Nordic light” to her paintings. She has received numerous awards, among them several Best of Shows. She has her work in private and corporate collections in the USA, as well as several European countries.
Leslie E. Thompson
Leslie Thompson obtained a BA degree in foreign language from Auburn University in 1990, and while a student at AU, took many art classes and learned various techniques and important art history. Through the Alabama - Auburn Abroad Program, Thompson attended the University of Madrid for six weeks in 1976. Thompson says that this experience "was a catalyst for my art," and so he toured the Prado and was inspired by many artistic and cultural influences. Thompson was then selected by the the Alabama State Council on the Arts as a Resource Artist, receiving two different special project grants.
Born and raised in Coastal Alabama around Mobile, Joe Sheffield was raised by his Dad with a shotgun and a sketch pad in his hands as a budding avid waterfowl hunter and artist. He spent many summers as a deckhand on his Dad's family commercial shrimp boat. Joe also spent 30 years (1964 - 1994) with the Mobile, Alabama fire department a fire paramedic. After graduating from University of South Alabama in 1986, Joe and his wife Peggy started doing art shows in 1991 while Joe was still working for the fire department.
However, in 1994, Joe retired from the fire department and pursued his passion for water color art full-time. His passion is to capture and paint the wonderful subject matter of the coastal South. Joe's art is displayed in many homes and offices nationwide as well as in Great Britain, Italy, and France. His art is currently on display in galleries along the Gulf Coast.