JOHN DAY - Maggie Willis of John Day, is the featured artist of the month at First Bank in John Day. Her oil paintings are on display through the month of March. She is a 1999 graduate of Grant Union High School and 2003 graduate of Moore College of Design in Philadelphia. She presently is living with her mother Mary Ann and two dogs, Zoe and Gaia.
Willis has always had a passion for art. "I knew that it would be a part of my life forever and there never was a question," Willis confided. "I had a piece [of art] that I was walking by one day and saw a man staring at it. Later, I walked back and he was still there. A girl went up to him and said, 'You are still looking at that?' and he said, 'I just can't take my eyes away.' I knew then that I must be doing something right."
Maggie's paintings have been shipped as far as Japan for exhibits and still has some work in Philadelphia. Locally, they can be seen at the Faith Mountain Gallery on Dayton Street in John Day. One piece of her work is also at Blue Mountain Hospital.
Willis finds inspiration for her paintings from beautiful objects or just the lighting. "Light gives color, form and space to everything," Willis commented. "It is more important what people see in a painting then what I saw when I painted it, because that changes constantly."
Willis's pieces range in price, smaller sized prints can go for $60 and her larger pieces can sometimes sell between $500-$1,000. She has sold approximately 50 prints to date.
Humbolt Elementary recently applied for a grant through the Eastern Oregon University artist in residence program. It was this grant that brought Maggie into the K-5 classrooms to work with the children for a two-week period. She taught students mono print and book paintings. Presently, she is volunteering for the Mt. Vernon Middle School every Friday, giving art classes to children who are interested.
The John Day Fossil Bed National Monumnet have taken her on as an artist in residence beginning in April. She will be guided around the park to paint scenes of the Fossil Beds. She will also present slide shows and possibly hold art classes.
Her future plans are to stay in John Day for the summer and continue to market her work to prospective galleries.
Anyone interested in contacting Maggie regarding purchasing prints or commissioning her to paint can call (541) 575-2471.