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Local artist keeps cranes around a little longer
The Sandhill Cranes may have migrated through Nebraska already, but you can still see cranes in the Kearney area through the summer thanks to some local artists. NEWS 5's Dennis Kellogg introduces us to one as we spend "A Day in the Heartland."
Martha Pettigrew, the painter, is known for her landscapes filled with brilliant colors. Martha Pettigrew, the sculptor, has created works both big and small, and has her own recognizable style. No matter the medium, art, for her, is an expression.
"I guess I'm kind of a loner really. At heart, I am a very introspective person. I think that art lends itself to an expressive media for people like me," said Pettigrew.
Martha and her husband Del decided to become professional artists about 20 years ago.
"We had no place to go but up, so when we started doing sculpture. We made that our only means of making a living. And we have done fairly well," said Pettigrew.
Martha divides her time equally between sculpting and painting, and she has developed her own unique style in both types of work.
"Strangely enough, although my paintings are very different from my sculpture, which is mostly figurative, my paintings are landscape with architectural elements, people still recognize my style," Pettigrew said.
Martha has major pieces of artwork all around the country, New Jersey, Texas, California, but her latest creation actually has a very distinctive Nebraska flavor to it.
"I call this 'Origami Migration.' Any my goal is to put a lot of color into it and a lot of movement," said Pettigrew.
Martha designed cranes that have been replicated and are now being decorated by more than twenty artists as part of the Cranes on Parade II public art project by Kearney's Dawn Rotary Club.
"Just keep the lines really clean and sharp. And the black background really makes these colors pop," said Pettigrew.
When they did this the first time several years ago, Martha decorated her crane with flowers. This time, she is taking a different approach.
"I wanted to use these origami shapes, the origami cranes in flight. And I wanted to use a lot of different colors and different positions for the cranes," Pettigrew said.
There is nothing complex about the pattern, but that is by design.
"I keep my designs really simple in both my sculpture and my paintings, and the simplicity really appeals to a lot of people. The brilliant colors, but the simplicity of the idea," said Pettigrew.
While Martha strives for simplicity in her artwork, she says the key to success for her is solving problems.
"You have in your head what you want the piece to be, and to get it to look that way is a matter of solving each problem. Proportion, color, whatever you see that is not right, you have got to figure out how to fix it," Pettigrew said.
Which Martha is obviously is adept at doing based on the success she has enjoyed with her sculptures and paintings. And now, she is helping to solve another problem — how to keep the cranes in Kearney just a little bit longer.
Martha and the other artists will have their decorated cranes on display at locations throughout Kearney through the summer. The works of art will then be auctioned off in September with the proceeds benefiting local, regional and international projects.
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