IDAHO FALLS – The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho is currently exhibiting a career-spanning collection of art by two local sisters.
“Sisters Retrospective” chronicles over sixty years of creative work by Gloria Miller Allen and Sherian Miller Lewis. The exhibit includes artwork created in multiple mediums, from sketches and paintings to sculptures and pillows. Through the art, museum visitors get a feel for the life stories of Allen and Lewis.
“When we were kids, we did a lot of things together, art-wise,” Allen told EastIdahoNews.com. “That’s something that’s always been around. (Lewis) has lived most of her adult life in Nebraska. She moved here in 2007 and I’ve lived here since 1974 and we’ve had a couple of ‘Sister Shows’ in galleries. But this is the biggest one we’ve ever done.”
Allen’s primary focus is watercolors and she applies her skills to all kinds of subject matter. Her paintings of boats and rock formations are highlights of the exhibit.
“The big rocks are what I’m known for,” Allen said. “Thirty years ago, we took a float trip down the Salmon River. During that trip, I could take pictures of rock walls and that’s about it. And I got the idea on that trip to just paint rocks without sky. Some of them have plants but most of them are just rocks and that’s done very well for me because, first of all, I love the subject and, second of all, it’s a nice marriage between abstract design and realism.”
Lewis possesses a wide range of artistic skills, which came in handy during her career as an art teacher. She used her sculpting abilities to create a sculpture of Neuschwanstein Castle in German. Made out of potter’s clay, the castle weighs in at 180 pounds and was created thanks to a suggestion by Lewis’s son.
“It was my son’s birthday and he said ‘Hey Mom, do you want to do a castle? We’re doing the Renaissance,’” Lewis said. ‘I said ‘Fine.’ And I should’ve said ‘Fine. Period.’ But I said ‘What castle should we do’ and he picked Neuschwanstein. It took me about a year to research (the castle), get the drawings done, get it scaled up to where I wanted it. And it took about eight weeks to actually make it and another six weeks to dry it. But I’m really glad I did it.”
The sisters worked together on the batiques featuring giraffes and zebras. The process of creating the batiques involved painting sheets of fabric with molten wax to cover areas the artist does not want to be colored, dying the fabric, then removing the wax.
“We did the batiques in my basement because I have a concrete floor in my studio and Gloria has carpeting in her studio and you don’t want to work with dye in that situation,” Lewis said. “She did hers and I did mine. We just did them at the same time in the same spot.”
You can see these pieces and much, much more now through August 13 at the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho’s “Sisters Retrospective: Gloria Miller Allen and Sherian Miller Lewis” exhibit. Visit the museum’s website, Facebook page or Instagram for more information.