Artist mixes it up with landscape painting and portraiture

Genevieve Opheim sits painting a landscape. Her portrait of her grandmother, May, is far left. (Photo courtesy of Genevieve Opheim)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A local artist will exhibit her landscape art for First Friday.

Genevieve Opheim captures Kodiak’s natural beauty through photography and then uses the photos as reference for her oil paintings.

And while she says she likes landscape painting best, she’s also tried her hand at more personal pieces.

For instance, a portrait of her 83-year-old grandmother, May Watson.

“She likes to tell stories. She likes to talk. She loves to laugh, and she likes to get together to eat traditional food. She prefers not to speak English if she doesn’t have to. I mean, you’ll hear the word TV or banana or something that’s not translated into the language.”

Opheim is from Kotzebue and says her grandmother was born in Noatak in the Northwest Arctic Borough.

“I am Inupiaq, and there’s still a lot of vibrant culture in the rural locations up north. The culture is semi-nomadic, so you go closer to the coast where it’s cooler and collect your fish there, and then you move to another location to do other kind of subsistence.”

Her grandmother only eats locally sourced food when it’s an option, Opheim says.

She says she based the portrait of May on a photograph she took of her grandmother watching Inupiaq dancers perform.

May has grey hair, glasses, and three lines tattooed on her chin.

“It’s not something that I see practiced very much. She got hers later in life and a cousin of mine that is the same age as me, she got hers at the same time, and they signify womanhood, when she became a mother, and when she was married.”

Opheim says the portrait is a personal piece and won’t be exhibited on Friday, but her landscape art will be up at the Frame Shop starting at 5 p.m.

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