Book Review: 'Wildflowers' tells about artist as well

Posted: Thursday, December 28, 2000

Gail Niebrugge, as an artist, captures the contrasting moods of scenic Alaska in her newly published "Alaska Wildflowers."

The paintings also tell you something about the artist herself, such as a scene where she hiked to record timid subjects on canvas -- up a mountain, above tree-line, the snow gone, unconcerned Dall sheep grazing near a patch of alpine moss campion.

The wildflower has been referred to as the chamber music of the plant world. Niebrugge's works in the book, which include more than 80 paintings, bear an accurate imprint of their delicate and fragile theme.

Chiming bluebells she saw along the road to Hatcher Pass will brighten your winter day. It's impossible to be gloomy looking at flowers.

The most profuse and brightest, the fireweed, aptly named for its color, is shown in various transitions.

The Eskimo potato, the pale blue, thin-leafed Jacob's Ladder and the sub-alpine bear flower, to name a few, are reproduced in poetic likeness.

While cold-loving flowers remain the protagonists of this compact book, Niebrugge's personal memories will satisfy an essential trait of an audience wanting to know something of the personality behind the talent.

On the opening page, for instance, she explains that her love for landscapes attracted her to Alaska.

"In 1976, this crazy obsession of mine led our family from two solid jobs in San Diego to a two-room log cabin in Copper Center."

Photographs show the author at work and at home, and she describes her

methods of "pointillism" and stone lithography.

In all of the collections in the book, artistic as well as personal, Niebrugge leaves the reader feeling that anybody can accomplish anything when an ambitious passion is devoted to a God-given talent.

On the last page, the northern lights reflected on an icy lake add a finishing touch.

The artist lives in Palmer and owns Niebrugge Studio with her husband, Bob.

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