Eva Kusmirek Stamper among new artists to Corscaden Barn Gallery
KEENE VALLEY — A decade ago, artist/sculptor Allen Stamper gifted a birthday stay in the Adirondacks to his artist/wife, Eva Kusmirek Stamper.
The then-New York City dweller by way of Poland had heard of the Blue-Line wilderness, but she’d never been.
“We spent like 10 days, and I fell in love,” Eva said. “I remember in the car going back to the city, and my heart was broken. I was looking at the old barns falling-apart barns on the way, and I’m like ‘Oh my God, I could live in a barn like this if I didn’t have to work a normal job to have insurance and money coming in.'”
Eva reveals her Adirondacks lens in the Corscaden Barn Gallery “Salon Show 2022,” which also features the works of Ed Wheeler, Michael Gaudreau, Allen Stamper, Stephanie DeManuelle, Sandra Hildreth, Sid Miller, Elsa Dixon, Julia Gronski, Jeff Wiegand, Lynda Mussen, Garrett Jewett and Dennon Walantus.
The Keene Valley show runs through Labor day, and gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, noon to 5 p.m.
Eva had drawn since she can’t remember when she started.
“But I think, when I was a child,” she said. “My father had a gift. He drew. He wasn’t an artist, but he drew very well. His sister also, so it comes from my father’s side of the family. So, I always wanted to do it.”
Eva recalls scribbling things and drawing in a little notebook, even when in grammar school.
“I always got called for this because instead of doing something else, homework or whatever, I was always scribbling and drawing,” she said.
Escape from Poland
Maybe it was an escape of sorts since she was growing up in communist Poland and left there in 1977.
“My father was a merchant captain, and he could take me for a trip,” she said. “It was very hard to get out of Poland, especially when you’re so young, and I was 20 years old. He took me for a trip one day. He had a couple of friends here in New York to take care of me, to pick me up.”
Eva sailed two months on a ship with her father with stops in Spain, Germany, Ukraine, and she disembarked in Savannah, Georgia.
From there, she jetted to NYC.
“I didn’t speak a word of English,” she said.
“They put me on the plane, and my father’s friends’ family picked me up. To legalize my stay, I took political asylum. I knew right away that I wanted to stay. The situation in Poland was terrible.”
At Hunter College, Eva majored in Studio Art and Art History.
“I went back to college in 2001,” she said.
“I wanted to get master’s degree, but it didn’t work out. But still, I took some painting classes and I got introduced to Emily Mason. She passed away in 2019. She was an abstract artist. Her mother was a pioneer of abstract art. So, this was my training at first here in America when it comes to painting in abstract. I did it backwards.”
Afterward, Eva studied at the Art Students League of New York, and her instructors included Dan Thompson.
“He really had a big influence on me,” she said.
“He’s a contemporary young painter. Then, of course, my husband had a big influence on me.”
In 2018, Allen and Eva purchased a home first in Port Henry, but relocated to an old farm on North River last year.
The Adirondacks inspired her to switch from painting still life, portraits and figurative art.
“I switched to nature to paint the landscape,” she said.
“This is like an endless pick for inspiration. You just look at the same place from a different angle, and you can paint five paintings of the same place and they are all different.”
The rivers, streams, call Eva, though at the beginning she was frustrated she couldn’t capture landscape the way she wanted.
“You just have to make yourself better,” she said. “You have to work, work work until you die.”
In her artist statement, Eva writes:
“Painting and making art is a way of life for me. This constant need to create is enslaving and, in a way, it becomes an addiction. Endless quest and striving to do better but at the same time understanding that complete satisfaction will end the process, makes us work harder and harder by never ending desire to create. Relentless struggle to achieve that relevant perfection is a part of the joy that, at least for me, is already there, sparkled by incredible beauty of Adirondack Mountains with never ending inspiration.”
In the Salon Show, her works are oil on canvas or panel.
“But since we moved here to North River, I met a watercolor painter Jan Palmer,” she said. “She’s rather known here. I took a couple of courses with her, and I paint with her, and I go infatuated with the watercolor. I’m painting now in watercolor.”
Eva set up two easels, one for watercolor, and one for oil, in her attic studio.
She goes back and forth between them, and she tries to paint everyday.
“I love it,” she said. “I’m having fun with it.”