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Kim Klabe

Rehoboth Beach

picture of Kim Klabe

Visual Arts: Works on Paper

By: Gail Obenreder

“I believe that what we create should come equally from our heart and minds. With heart and passion, the art comes alive.”

Her belief that passion should inform an artist’s practice led Kim Klabe to her current body of work. For over 30 years, Klabe had been a representational painter, working in oils and watercolors, but “boredom had set in. I desperately needed a way to express myself freely and creatively.” The artist found that new path in 2017 when she began working with wine and beer.

Using spirits as her basic media, Klabe begins each work by creating “pours,” letting dark beer or wine flow onto #400 watercolor paper and then allowing it to dry, to “see what shapes appear.” She then takes the nascent images created by the stains and defines their lines with colored pencils and markers. “The direction of the wine dictates how distorted a figure may or may not be, and no longer is representation a necessary part of my painting.” This process has freed her, and as the liquids “move across the textured paper . . . they puddle and leave shimmery sugars behind.” Both artist and viewers are caught by this visual energy that draws the eye, and the medium itself sparks conversation. Even in such an unusual way, “wine and beer can bring people together.”

A native Delawarean, the Rehoboth resident was born in Sussex County and grew up in Wilmington. She lived for a few years in Maryland, returning to the First State in 1994. As a child, Klabe would “stand behind the portrait painters in Rehoboth and Ocean City [to] study how they drew [and] the tools they used.” She also gained inspiration from her art teachers – especially the elementary teacher who decorated her school with murals – and furthered her studies at the Antonelli Institute (York, Pennsylvania) and University of Delaware, where she graduated with a BA in painting.

female figure in profile
“Heartbreaker,” 2020, Gnarly Head Black wine pour, marker, pencil, 24 x 18 inches
male figure with arms spread out
“Captain Fantastic,” 2020, Gnarly Head Black wine pour, marker, pencil, 40 x 30 inches
black dog with orange ball
“Black Dog,” 2020, Gnarly Head Black wine pour, marker, pencil, 30 x 40 inches

The process of creating her pours is “so exciting to me that I am almost always wanting to be in the studio,” and the artist often offers demonstrations at art shows so that people can see her process from start to finish. As well as her love of the studio, Klabe also has a passion for fitness. She taught yoga for 20 years and – an avid runner – she has run countless races, including eight marathons, meeting her husband shortly before she ran the 2015 Boston Marathon.

Klabe notes that the Division’s Fellowship “has been a bucket list item for me.” She has applied several times, “each year learning from the juror’s feedback, and I am beyond excited to be a recipient.” The artist will use the award to expand her practice and is busily planning her 2021 schedule based on “this wonderful gift.” In 2020, Klabe was accepted into multiple shows – all cancelled due to the pandemic. Though she’s participated in virtual events, she’s eagerly awaiting the return of exhibitions and openings, when people will be “strolling around a beautiful gallery surrounded by art and talking to artists,” viewing the work whose creation brings Klabe so much happiness.

Artist website: kimklabe.com

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