By Kimberly Boney
Photo by Taryn Burkleo
Snow Creek Studios in Mount Shasta
The story of “Nuka, Tera and Little Girl” was the imaginary adventure of Chris Messer and her two older brothers, an adventure they built upon every day as children living overseas. Since her big brothers never knew just what her name should be in the story, Messer was simply called “Little Girl.” The three children excitedly perused Sears catalogs and picked items that they could use to tell their vibrant and ever-changing make-believe tales. Although “Nuka, Tera and Little Girl” never took written form, the adventures they went on in their minds were as real as the pages of any book. For Messer and her brothers, a rich and colorful imagination and an acute sense of creativity were often inspired by the simplest of things around them.
“As a child, I was more of a 3-D artist. I made clothing for my dolls. I thought Wonder Bread was an incredible sculpting product,” she says with a laugh. It’s no wonder that a woman who found such joy in her creative childhood navigated to a career in art.
“My whole family thought I needed to study something different. And I said, ‘Maybe I do. But right now, I’m going to study art.’” It was a leap of faith that a then “30-something” Messer took when she decided to return to school to pursue a degree in art. After a grueling yet impressionistic degree program, Messer graduated with honors in 1989 from the California College of the Arts and Crafts in Oakland. She became a professional artist in 1991, which her former professors had always said was a privilege reserved for very few.
Messer, a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and California Watercolor Association, also works in other art forms such as gouache (a method of painting with opaque watercolors), acrylic, print making, mixed media and fiber arts. Just over a year ago, Messer opened Snow Creek Studios, a 2,200-square-foot gallery, art studio and retail space in Mount Shasta. Snow Creek Studios is a stunning addition to the quaint town and has become not only a place for Messer to display her nationally recognized art work, but for other local artists to showcase their own. The diverse works of Claudia Ellis (watercolor and oil), Alyssa Clark (pottery), Hannah Brehmer (pottery), Catherine McElroy (watercolor), Ryan Schuppert (sculpture) and Glen Heath (two-dimensional relief) are showcased in the gallery. Lindsay Budner, the gallery manager at Snow Creek Studios, brings her experience working in New York galleries to the creative table.
After spending years teaching art at other institutions throughout the state, namely the Art Institute of San Francisco and Walnut Creek Civic Arts, Messer is honored to offer classes in the North State. Her classes offer an opportunity for budding artists to hone their skills in watercolor, drawing, and mixed-media art. Ultimately, Messer would like to offer online classes, a goal that is close enough to touch. She also plans to expand the class schedule to offer other local artists the opportunity to teach at Snow Creek Studios.
Snow Creek Studios hosts workshops and special events and is actively involved in the Fourth Friday Art Walk in Mount Shasta, when the gallery features either new works from one of their featured artists or showcases a new arrival to the studio with a reception. Visitors nosh on delicious refreshments while taking in the beauty of a piece of art created in the North State, and may even have a chance to meet the artist. From January to March, the reception is held from 3 to 5:30 pm, and from April to December, the celebration lasts from 4 to 8 pm.
Having come from an educational experience that was competitive and sometimes difficult for the artist, Messer mentors other artists from a position of love. “I think mentoring is interesting in that it’s more about letting people trust in their own abilities. Most of us come in so afraid to put anything down because we will be judged by it. It’s about trusting, moving forward and allowing the bad stuff to come out as well as the good stuff. You have to respect and trust yourself. And always keep a sketch book.”
Snow Creek Studios
416 North Mt. Shasta Boulevard, Mt. Shasta
Tuesday- Saturday: 10:30 am to 5:30 pm
Fourth Friday Art Walk