Once a month, Arizona Oddities is featuring a Q&A with a talented Arizona artist who is influenced by our state’s people, places and history. This month, Ellen Jo Roberts shares her light-hearted collection inspired by the Southwestern landscape, old motels and vintage cars.
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Galleries: Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery, Laughing Raven Gallery (Jerome) and 15 Quince (Jerome)
Upcoming Exhibit: “Walkin’ on Main” in Cottonwood, Nov. 12
City of Residence: Clarkdale
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Since I was a wee kid I’ve always been “the artist.” My family encouraged my creative pursuits and I continued throughout grade school, high school and college. My degree from Northern Illinois University is in Studio Arts-Painting. I also have a great interest and appreciation for photography, focusing mainly on vintage cameras. I also write a monthly column for Northern Arizona’s “Creative Arts and News” monthly “The Noise.” I was born on the “day of the observer”, which is apropos since I’m all about documentation, especially the details of small town life in the great American southwest. My goal is to always capture something authentic about a place.
Inspiration is all around us if we are open to it. Some things that always inspire me: My pets, the Verde River, desert plants and wild critters, small town life, full moon light, instant film, road trips, old motels, vintage cars (especially air-cooled Volkswagens) and sun baked relics of historic highways.
How does living in Arizona influence your art?
The incredible light, weather and scenery we have here in Arizona pretty much spoils you for life on ever living anywhere else.
Favorite Arizona getaway or adventure:
Lots of open spaces, national forest and public land means camping is always a great getaway option. A favorite special occasion getaway is Winslow’s historic La Posada Hotel.
I live in Arizona because…
…it is a dreamscape. We are in love with Arizona. We’re pioneers here, leaving all of our family back in the Midwest. Even our great love for them cannot tear us away from Arizona.
How would you describe Arizona to someone who has never been here before?
It’s a magnificent mix of ecosystems and elevations, offering something for everyone. You can be active year-round and lead an outdoor lifestyle any season.
Best Arizona sunset:
From Jerome, looking across the Verde Valley to the red rocks of Sedona blazing in the fading sun.
Favorite Old West icon:
The Snowcap, Rt. 66, Seligman