For Alaska artist Elsbeth Monnett, collecting art is about pleasure first, enrichment second. Whose work does she turn to?
“It’s almost always a gut reaction at first, and then I admire the technique,” she says. “But initially, it’s about being a pleasure to my eyes.” Monnett has been collecting art for 40 years — even as a young adult, she was buying key pieces. These days, her purchases often reflect her artistic path.

“Untitled,” by Lorenzo Chavez, pastel, 8 x 12 in. Collection of Elsbeth Monnett

The first piece Monnett chose to discuss was one of several studies she owns by California artist Frank Serrano. “I paint a lot of mountains,” says Monnett. “Anchorage has the Chugach Mountains, which I see every day. Serrano really knows the nature of mountains and the way that light falls on them — you can see it in this painting. And he is so good at values. I look at his studies when I paint mountains, and I learn so much from them.”

“Untitled,” by Chuck Law, oil, 6 x 8 in. Collection of Elsbeth Monnett

Like the Serrano, Monnett picked up her piece by Lorenzo Chavez at the conclusion of a workshop. “He had quite a wide variety at the end of his workshop,” says Monnett. “I liked the fact that he was able to pull off flowers without making them too pattern-y. And it makes me happy to look at this. I’ve liked his work for a while. He emphasized the design elements, which makes sense because he started out as a graphic designer.”

“Powerline Trail,” by Elsbeth Monnett, 2014, oil, 16 x 20 in.

Monnett met Chuck Law several years ago at an artists’ convention in Colorado. “Again, it’s a painting that gives me joy,” says the painter. “You can feel the wind moving and the fluttering of those leaves. We have long, dark winters, so I like anything that gives me joy.”


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