‘I have a ton of fun,’ artist Chris Beaven says
LYNDEN — Earlier this month, the Jansen Art Center opened its winter seasonal juried show. Chris Beaven, one of the show’s many artists, has a solo show in an upstairs gallery.
Pronounced like heaven with a B, Beaven became interested in art at a young age, and his mother signed him up for classes. From classes in high school and then at the Chicago Art Institute, he continued his formal studies.
Beaven said he eventually “ran out of money” at the institute and took time off to pay off the student loans.
From Kentucky to Illinois, Beaven continued to move around the east coast: South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, then to Louisiana. He and his wife of 20 years, Pattie Beaven, moved to the west coast in 2009.
They continued to move about the Pacific Northwest until they landed in Blaine two years ago.
Due to life changes, Beaven showed his work in 2007 in Florida and then didn’t paint or do any art again until 2013.
A working web developer who telecommutes, Beaven realized he felt empty without his art. He knew he would regret it if he didn’t go back to it, he said.
On Jan. 26, 2013, he started doing art every day in a doable form.
“It’s complex (skills used for painting) … I was almost starting over,” he said.
While he may not complete a painting or another form of artwork, he has set aside time – and documented it – each day. He’s done that for nine years and counting whether he is in his studio or with a sketch pad on a plane.
“It’s important to show up every single day with the maximum energy and maximum focus,” he said.
While the viewer walks into the Jansen galley they will notice what appears to be a small clothesline by the window holding little images of his work with a number on it.
Around the room are groupings of different types of paintings and sketches, self-portraits, portraits of others, and an explanation of what he is doing. One eye-opening self-portrait shows an abdominal scar.
The painting, like many others, is incredibly realistic.
When asked about it, Beaven explained it was from a kidney transplant done in 2018 in Seattle when he was 43.
The transplant was another starting over for him.
Although he thought he was quite healthy at the time, Beaven found he needed the surgery and reached out to friends through social media and found a Seattle friend willing to give him a kidney within a relatively short time period.
Beaven and his wife now focus on an incredibly healthy lifestyle with foods and exercises. Her website, which he helped create, zoofit.net, speaks of some of this. Pattie’s an animal trainer by trade, who also utilizes those skills to help people.
A book is in progress to discuss what she’s learned.
This very painting was not accepted by earlier Jansen Art juried shows as an individual painting, Beaven said. Staff was concerned that viewers may not understand what it depicted. He intends to change the title to clarify the situation and significance. It’s not common for portraits at Jansen to show something like this.
While the show hangs in Jansen, another is visible online at chrisbeaven.com/jansen-art-center-solo-show. Along with a friend from Kentucky, Beaven is creating an online forum for other artists: createquest.net. Still in its infancy, the duo wants to “change the lives of artists” who struggle to find the time and motivation to create, Beaven said.
“As they say, it takes 10 to 20 years to be an overnight success,” he said. The salt-and-pepper haired artist is now 46.
While saying his life is “kind of boring,” it is structured to follow a certain protocol daily with “three flow blocks” of work and art mixed with time to work out, eat and meditate.
“I have a ton of fun,” he said. “The job funds the rest. …and I enjoy the job too.”
Eventually, Beaven would like to take his Jansen show of mixing art with natural history and wisdom to other venues, including the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). “My biggest goal is to help other artists.”
The tagline at the end of his email signature reads: “May you feel safe. May you feel happy. May you feel healthy. May you live with ease.”
Jansen Art Center, 321 Front St., Lynden, has reopened to the public for gallery exhibitions, gift shop and classes. The center has 126 volunteers, 75 classes held quarterly, and 11,000 yearly visits.
More information about current exhibits, past exhibits, and how to submit art for future shows is at jansenartcenter.org.