Nancy Frost Begin, a watercolor artist, crafter of contemporary folk art, printmaker, and oil painter, is the featured artist of this year’s Las Cruces Arts Fair, which is hosted by the Doña Ana Arts Council and will be held March 16 – 18 at the Las Cruces Convention Center. She creates works as diverse as whimsical folk art Monster Boxes and as traditional as painted landscapes.
Part of an artistic family which hails from Buffalo, New York, Frost Begin says, “Both of my parents were artists and my father was a well-known watercolorist in western New York. My sister Susan Hanssen and I are both signature members of the National Watercolor Society. Also, my two sons, Jason and Matthew, are talented in music, fine art, and woodworking. And Bruce Begin, who is my long-time spouse, is a tireless cheerleader for his family. Art is in our genes, hearts, and bones.”
She adds, “As an artist, I am constantly on a voyage of discovery, not so much to reproduce what is in front of me but, as Marcel Proust said, ‘Discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in seeing with new eyes.’ The challenge is both hopeful and endless.”
Following graduation from Syracuse University with a BFA, Frost Begin has expressed herself through various artistic pursuits including illustration, fiber, clay, wood and painting. She taught studio art and art history at Proctor Academy in New Hampshire and was a member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, where she exhibited contemporary folk art. In 1996, she was selected by the league to create New Hampshire’s contribution to the White House Christmas tree. Frost Begin and her sister Susan conduct workshops in New Mexico and Florida.
Frost Begin’s watercolors, oils, woodcut prints, and folk art have been represented in fine galleries throughout the country, including the Cutter Gallery in Las Cruces. In 2009, she was juried into the National Watercolor Society as a signature member and won The Artist Magazine Award. She has also has received numerous awards and recognition from the New Mexico Watercolor Society, Western Federation, Masterworks, El Paso International Museum, Hubbard Museum of the American West, and The Southern Vermont Art Center.
According to Frost Begin, she is inspired by a quote from Pablo Picasso, “I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.” With that in mind, Frost Begin says of her more recent artistic endeavors, “My direction is really to reach inside and try to pull out feelings and things that are important to me. That might reveal itself through fantasy or even a portrait of someone. I’m working on portraits of historical figures for a show this November at the Phillips Gallery. I like to explore new mediums as well. Watercolor has opened up in the last five years with lots of new products, so I like to work in the new range of watercolor mediums.”
Her whimsical Monster Boxes are something she’s been making for 30 years, beginning with the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Sunapee Show, the oldest crafts fair in the United States. Frost Begin explains the Monster Boxes are created from quality scrap wood and that these odd pieces usually dictate the personal character of the boxes. Each box is handcrafted and painted and contains a surprise inside.
She says, “I usually do a theme, like a bunch of monsters that are gardeners, or dancers, or opera characters. Right now, for the Arts Fair, it will be winged creatures. As soon as the eyes are placed on the monster, you can clearly see a whimsical personality looking directly back at you.”
Also available at the Las Cruces Arts Fair will be her woodcut prints in custom-made wooden frames that coordinate with the prints, plus matted prints and some watercolor paintings, both traditional and representational pieces, such as her Seasons series.
The Doña Ana Arts Council’s Las Cruces Arts Fair, the area’s most expansive collection of art and fine crafts, will feature 90 artists from across the country, who will offer work in numerous categories. Admission for the Arts Fair is $10 for one adult or 2 adults for $15 if purchased in advance. Each ticket is good for 2 days: Friday evening (5 – 8 pm), Saturday (10 am – 5 pm), or Sunday (10 am – 4 pm). Children aged 12 and under are admitted free. To purchase tickets or for more information, go to www.daarts.org visit the DAAC office at 1740 Calle de Mercado, Suite B, or call (575) 523-6403.
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