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Maryo | Miki
Klocke | Allison Leete
Since the early 1990s, Allison Leete has
been integrating her love of art, science and nature to develop
a body of work which portrays the inner life of animals. Allison's
subjects are drawn from her personal experiences of raising
and caring for animals, and range in breadth from California
condors to Disaster Search dogs. Allison's medium of preference
is pastel, yet she enjoys exploring the ability of watercolor,
oil painting and photography to communicate her celebration
of life in a vibrant spectrum of color.
Originally interested in veterinary science,
wildlife health and animal behavior, Allison discovered the
burgeoning field of Conservation Biology. She embraced the
opportunity to be involved in the recovery of a highly endangered
species - the California condor. Her observation and data
collection of breeding California condors in captivity and
the experimental release of captive-reared condors acquainted
her with not only the condor, but with world-renowned scientists
and philosophers who would subsequently guide Allison to discover
her own strength in artistic expression.
Photographer and craftswoman Miki Klocke
was born and raised in the intense beauty of the Ojai Valley,
a haven for artists of all kinds. Surrounded by talented and
imaginative individuals, Miki felt both inspired and encouraged
by the dazzling creative energy enveloping her.
Upon graduation from high school, Miki's
adventurous spirit took her from sunny southern California
to the high mountain peaks of Colorado where she finally got
to experience all four seasons. Pursuing her study of photography,
Miki found herself in the heart of snowboard country. She
spent the next 11 years torn between her passion for photography
and playing in the snow. While managing to maintain both these
loves, she also developed an affinity for woodcraft.
Knowing she needed to be with her family
brought Miki back to Ojai. While she greatly missed the snow,
Miki soon discovered a powerful connection to the canine world.
Everything she does now is about dogs, work and play are one
and the same.
Miki pursues her love of all things canine
through the mediums of photography and woodcraft and is exploring
ways to combine the two. Her companion and constant source
of inspiration is Moose, a 5 year old Chocolate Labrador.
Moose not only keeps Miki company in the woodshop, but is
also a very willing model for the camera.
I was born into the
languid heat of a steamy Florida afternoon on March 1, 1965
in the tiny red brick hospital of a sleepy little beach town
on the gulf of Mexico.
As a small child,
the stark and brilliant sugar white sand and turquoise water
of the gulf around the Florida panhandle nurtured and delighted
me - and I vividly remember dolphins swimming playfully around
my sister and me in the bath water warm gulf.
My parents soon found
out I had been born with an eye condition, inherited from
my Father, that left me partially blind. I was unable to focus,
and because I was so young and my eyes were changing so rapidly,
they were unable to fit me with glasses. I spent the first
six years of my life in a soft, yellowish, confusing blur
- unable to understand what people were talking about when
they described the world and all the things in it I could
not see - like birds, and clocks, and shoelaces.
Knowing I was different
from other people, but not really understanding how or why,
I developed into a shy, withdrawn and anxious child with a
deep burning need to do something with all these harsh, unsettling
feelings. So I began to draw. It didn't seem to matter that
I could only vaguely see the crayon in my hand - the simple
act of moving it around on the paper, of creating and leaving
a mark of some kind, calmed me and exhilarated me all at the
Since I could not
see clearly, I learned to draw my impressions of things -
I drew the energy around them and what they meant to me, and
the connection I felt to whatever my subject might be. I stubbornly
refused to listen to comments or allow anyone to change my
pictures in any way. They were the only things that portrayed
my own world view - the only things that were wholly mine.
In first grade I was
fitted with my first pair of glasses and the world changed
completely and so abruptly I was almost literally thrown off
balance. I was not familiar with these crisp and intimidating
lines and angles rushing up at me. People didn't look the
way they were supposed to - and there was so much information
to process I was completely overwhelmed. I withdrew even further
- creating elaborate dreamscapes inside my whirling, tumbling,
shifting thoughts and pouring them onto whatever surface I
could get a hold of. My later pictures may have more structure,
but they are still built out of paint, pencil or computer
with the same passionate intensity and need to give voice
to my mind, heart and soul.
My parents, while
they loved me, were logical and analytical people - brilliant
and reasonable. They sometimes treated me bewilderment - they
did not understand my need to create and so for the most part
they ignored it. I went off to art school - secure in the
knowledge I was already an artist - but unable to explain
to them what that really meant. This frustration, however,
only served to fuel my need to find my voice through color,
shape and line.
Art school turned
out to be exactly the opposite of what I thought it should
be. I found the opportunity to draw and paint from the model
for hours at a time very useful - but I found the academic
culture stifling. Instead of being encouraged to experiment
- to find our own paths while feeling safe enough to fail
along the way - the students were met with rigidity and unrelenting
pressure to conform. My artistic vision was strong and I quickly
ascertained that art school was not the place to foster it.
I left after two years. I will say, however, that the training
I received there in classical drawing and painting skills
In 1995 the genetic
defect that affected my eyes caused my lenses to completely
detach. Surgery on my left eye to remove the lens and implant
an artificial one was successful but a string of complications
left me blind in the right eye. I was distraught. The medical
establishment felt brutal and insensitive to my loss - and
I was deathly afraid I would never paint again.
Painting and drawing
were much more difficult for me after the surgeries - the
loss of depth perception and ability to see fine detail affected
my work greatly. Yet all was not lost. About a year before
I became partially sighted, I had begun experimenting with
a new medium - the computer. With this miraculous tool I could
zoom in on a picture as close as I needed to without even
leaving my chair. I was saved. Over the next several years,
with much trial and error, I painstakingly retrained myself
to paint in the digital medium. My traditional skills were
very important - giving me the solid foundation and structure
to created balanced and harmonious compositions - while still
allowing my artistic vision to burst through in color, shape
The computer cannot
"generate" art any more than brush and canvas can
- only a passionate heart can endow a picture with enough
human intensity to truly create a work of art.