KEENE VALLEY — A decade ago, artist/sculptor Allen Stamper gave his artist/wife, Eva Kusmirek Stamper, a birthday getaway to the Adirondacks.
The then New Yorker had heard about the Blue Line Wilderness from Poland, but had never been there.
“We spent about 10 days and I fell in love.” said Eve. “I remember driving back into town in the car and my heart was broken. I looked at the old barns that were falling apart along the way and thought, ‘Oh my god, I could live in a barn like this if I didn’t have to do a regular job to get insurance and money in.'”
Eva unveils her Adirondacks lens at the Corscaden Barn Gallery “Salon Show 2022”, which also includes works by Ed Wheeler, Michael Gaudreau, Allen Stamper, Stephanie DeManuelle, Sandra Hildreth, Sid Miller, Elsa Dixon, Julia Gronski, Jeff Wiegand, Lynda Mussen, Garrett Jewett and Dennon Walantus.
The Keene Valley Show runs through Labor Day and gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 12pm to 5pm
Eva had drawn because she couldn’t remember when she started.
“But I think when I was a kid.” She said. “My father had a gift. He drew. He wasn’t an artist, but he drew very well. His sister too, so it’s coming from my father’s side. So that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Eva remembers scribbling things and drawing them in a small exercise book when she was still in high school.
“I was always called in because instead of doing anything else, like homework or whatever, I was always doodling and drawing.” She said.
Escape from Poland
Maybe it was a kind of escape, as she grew up in communist Poland and left in 1977.
“My father was a merchant captain and he was able to take me on a voyage.” She said. “It was very difficult to leave Poland, especially when you’re so young, and I was 20 years old. One day he took me on a trip. He had some friends here in New York who looked after me and picked me up.”
Eva sailed with her father on a ship for two months, stopping in Spain, Germany and Ukraine, ending up in Savannah, Georgia.
From there she jetted to NYC.
“I didn’t speak a word of English” She said.
“They put me on the plane and the family of my father’s friends picked me up. In order to legalize my stay, I took political asylum. I knew right away that I wanted to stay. The situation in Poland was terrible.”
The Artist’s Way
Eva studied studio art and art history at Hunter College.
“I went back to college in 2001” She said.
“I wanted to do a master’s degree, but it didn’t work out. Still, I took some painting classes and met Emily Mason. She died in 2019. She was an abstract artist. Her mother was a pioneer of abstract art. So that was initially my training here in America when it comes to abstract painting. I did it backwards.”
After that, Eva studied at the Art Students League of New York, and among her teachers was Dan Thompson.
“He really had a big influence on me” She said.
“He is a contemporary young painter. Then, of course, my husband was a big influence on me.”
In 2018, Allen and Eva first bought a home in Port Henry but moved to an old farm on the North River last year.
The Adirondacks inspired her to deviate from painting still lifes, portraits, and figurative art.
“I switched to nature to paint the landscape”, She said.
“It’s like an endless choice of inspiration. You just look at the same place from a different angle and you can paint five paintings of the same place, all different.”
The rivers, streams are calling to Eva, although at first she was frustrated that she couldn’t capture the scenery the way she wanted.
“You just have to improve” She said. “You have to work, work, work until you die.”
In her artist statement, Eva writes:
“Painting and making art is a way of life for me. This constant need to create becomes enslaving and, in a way, becoming an addiction. Endless striving and striving to do better but at the same time understanding that complete satisfaction will end the process makes us work harder and harder as we never want to end creating. The relentless struggle to achieve that relevant perfection is part of the joy that is already there, at least for me, sparked by the incredible beauty of the Adirondack Mountains with never-ending inspiration.”
In the Salon Show her works are oil on canvas or panel.
“But since we moved here to North River, I’ve met the watercolourist Jan Palmer.” She said. “She’s pretty well known around here. I took some classes with her and I paint with her and I’m obsessed with watercolor. I paint in watercolor now.”
Eva set up two easels in her attic studio, one for watercolor and one for oil.
She goes back and forth between them and tries to paint every day.
“I love it,” She said. “I enjoy it.”