by Sharon Rockey

Reckless, boisterous, raucous, unusual, or just plain modern? However you describe her art, it will never be accused of being subdued.

Katherine Spiering is a fine arts and multimedia graphic illustrator who creates art with attitude. Originally from Seattle, she broke out of the classical confines of her early parochial schooling by packing up and heading for distant exotic lands. Later, she hung out with Seattle's Belltown Art crowd, an artist encampment in the Denny Regrade area.

By the time she had completed a year at the Cornish School of Allied Arts and earned a degree in Psychology from the University of Washington, K. had developed an artistic eye by viewing life through the lens of a camera and by shooting images of her travels abroad as well as in her own backyard. In the early '80s, she presented an entire Polaroid exhibition called "Void Space," a collection of graffiti art photographed in Seattle's downtown Skid Row district. She was influenced and excited by street art, geek (or skin) art and just about everything else out of the ordinary.

Today, that influence is reflected in her paintings as a kind of high-amped energy with raw symbology and a spontaneity fused with her own sense of humor. For example, there is her portfolio of radical canines, a lively and diverse depiction of dogs created in multiple media, and a far cry from the fuzzy faces found on brochures for the American Kennel Club! When asked, "Why dogs?", she explains that dogs are a familiar and nostalgic symbol that everyone can relate to. She feels that dogs cut right through to the psyche and are a safe medium for communicating her art. But in the following excerpts from her "alternate biography," K. gives a more quirky and humorous explanation of her affinity with dogs, her technique, and the motivation for painting them.

"My father was a black polka musician, my mother a Puerto Rican country western singer, who defected from France. Being politically naive, she didn't know it wasn't necessary. I was raised by an order of dyslexic nuns in Canada, consequently my confusion with God or 'Dog'! Cultures collide, lives collide, dogs collide, all in good trickster fun. Dogs are the slapstick element of my work. My spontaneous techniques are due to the fact that my early canvases were parked in 15-minute zones."

Whatever her motivation, her graphic artwork blossomed after moving to Mendocino in the late '80s. In addition to painting and exhibiting her art, she was hired by a regional arts magazine. During her three-year association with the magazine, her responsibilities evolved from ad layout and graphic design/illustration to developing content and incorporating graphics from other artists. She later took on the role of Art Director and set the tone and high standards for the magazine. The emergence of computer technology simplified the publication process and K. was presented with a whole new medium for her talents.

With newly developed computer art skills added to her already established background in traditional graphic design, layout and illustration, the next step for K. was a natural one. She joined with her partner, David Heller and created a successful online virtual art gallery called Left Coast Art. The Web site is a global venue that promotes, sells and networks other artists and is attracting art patrons from around the world. Many of K.'s pieces are featured there, including those in the DOGhouse.

visit her at: www.leftcoastart.com

Sharon Rockey is a columnist, director of on-line communications, and WebMs. for the North Bay Multimedia Association at www.nbma.com. She can be reached at sayrock@sonic.net.

Copyright 1998 Moxie Magazine All Rights Reserved