Current Exhibit

Karen Buttwinick: From Succulents to Surrealism

Through August 2020

I am a local mixed media artist who paints in both acrylics and encaustics (an ancient art form dating back to the Greeks which involves the use of heated beeswax, damar resin and colored pigments). Interested in photography from an early age, I combine photographs I’ve taken with oil pigment sticks, pastels and encaustic medium to create unique works. To create a desired effect, I may digitally transform an image. I explore the emotional impact of light, color and form and draw inspiration from both natural and manmade objects. In this exhibit, I focus on the alluring beauty and sculptural quality of succulents and also include dreamlike images that feature unexpected juxtapositions or elements of surprise.Karen Buttwinick, Seductive Succulents (2018)As a young child, I had a wild imagination and loved to get my hands dirty with chalk and paint. I liked to sink my hands into clay and was drawn to the material’s malleability and possibility for expression. As a teen, I learned to weld and was awestruck by the power of the blowtorch and was mesmerized as molten metal metamorphosed in front of my eyes. Watching a photograph emerge in the darkroom also enchanted me. It wasn’t until I discovered the medium of encaustic that I recaptured that same magical feeling and rekindled my love affair with heat and its transformative qualities.

I studied English literature and art history at Pitzer College in Claremont, California and law at UC Hastings. My law practice was cut short when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, and creating art became my therapy. A native of Los Angeles, I currently live in Albany with my husband, son, daughter who is occasionally home from college, and dog, Tucker. When I have enough energy to create art, I work at the Firehouse Art Collective in Berkeley. Please contact me at [email protected] or visit my website at to see more of my art.

—Karen Buttwinick