Helen Katherine (Schenk, Weaver) Anne, the meandering but determined journey of artist H. K. Anne began in Indianapolis, Indiana, was fulfilled on October 20, 2019. Helen is affectionately remembered this May 16, 2023 on the occasion of her 80th birthday.
Her family, friends, patrons, and colleagues recall her easy laugh, insatiable curiosity, creative spirit, self-reliant determination, unpretentious generosity, and unconditional love for her children.
Born at home in Indianapolis, Indiana, the fourth of five children to Helen Katherine (Murphy) and Edward Arthur Schenk, Helen spent more than twenty years in that home on the first block of West Michigan Street, her artery to the outside. She attended St. Anthony Grade School, had enough cavities to get into the Dental College and the Crest toothpaste experiment in the 1950s, and rode the bus downtown to St. John Academy until it was closed and finished high school at St. Agnes Academy.
Her siblings include Michael, Mary, Edward, and Rita.
Helen worked as a secretary at the Indiana Department of Revenue, on Governor Roger D. Branigin's successful campaign and office, and at the Klineman, Rose, and Wolf law firm. She earned her associate degree from IUPUI while married and raising her three children Suzanne Katherine, Douglas Alan, and Jennifer Anne. Helen was an involved, ever-present volunteer in her children's schools, activities, charitable organizations, parish community, and art education programs.
Throughout her life, she carried an appreciation and talent for art from her classes at Herron Art School and Indianapolis Art League to being a docent at the Indianapolis Museum of Art for 15 years facilitating children's school tours. After a life changing event, Helen began anew in Ridgefield, Connecticut where she resided for eighteen years and immersed herself in art exploration and education.
She earned a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 19th century European art history and studio arts, and an MFA from Western Connecticut State University. With guidance from her respected professors, she discovered and refined her abstract expressionist approach to landscape oil painting. They suggested her works were in the lineage of the Hudson River Artists of the 19th century whose panoramic landscapes were metaphors for the expansive possibilities of this country. She felt the up-close and complicated quality of her works more reflected our time in history. She translated her large-scale landscapes to canvas from her photographs captured with her mini 35mm Leica. Her notable residencies and exhibitions include Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT, Smithsonian affiliate Annmarie Gardens in Solomons, MD, Art in Embassies Program, U. S. State Department, and The Art League at Torpedo Factory, Alexandria, VA.
When asked why landscapes, she reflected "I invite viewers to journey through my landscapes finding their own paths. My paintings have a lot of energy and sometimes one has to step back and take it all in. Just as in life, sometimes you have to take yourself out of the picture. Take the long view before you engage again."
After moving closer to family in Northern Virginia, she continued her artistic pursuits as a studio artist at the historic Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia. Her brushes loaded with generous amounts of paint swiftly took to her canvas while listening to the music of Bob Dylan and Norah Jones. She posted a self-affirmation sign in her studio declaring, "Be Brave. Just Paint."
And she did.
A natural conversationalist, she cultivated relationships with patrons and readily shared her knowledge of art with visitors and colleagues. It remained her true thrill to know her works were included in many residential and commercial collections. While this space could never recognize all those who had an impact on her life, she would want it known that she valued those supporting her journey.
She is dearly missed, and her presence is felt every day.
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