HANFORD — When Valley artist and teacher Carlene Kostiw wants to say something, she lets her brushes do the talking for her.

“When I do a painting, it just comes through the heart. My brushes just dance through a new subject matter, and I discover new things,” she says.

The Kings Art Center will host the work of Kostiw and her students beginning this weekend.

“A Legacy Exhibit” will prove to be just that as it celebrates not just the work of Kostiw, who has been painting for five decades, but students spanning that time, as well.

“They’ve been extremely generous to invite me back and I thought it was a beautiful gesture for the Kings Art Gallery to not only show my work, but the work of some of my students over the past 50 years,” Kostiw says.  

Kostiw, who previously had a one-person show at the Kings Art Gallery in 2004, has been teaching at her studio in Fresno for over 40 years and is excited to have tracked down some of her favorite works from present and past students for the exhibit.

While some of her students have been with her since the beginning, some have moved out of the area, making it difficult to procure all the pieces necessary – a task that took Kostiw about a year.

Art pieces have come in from students who now live across the state, in places like Cambria, Carmel and Placerville.

Kostiw said she wanted to display work from her students because it’s their work that has strengthened her own.

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“Working on this art has fulfilled avenues of life for the students and myself. Without being challenged by my students, I would not have reached the heights of my talents,” Kostiw said. 

Kostiw set up her studio after receiving her education from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota, and receiving formal training at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles and California State University, Fresno.

The watercolorist specializes in vibrantly colored portraits, landscapes and still-life paintings. Much of her work evokes a kind of historical nostalgia, making the viewer miss a time they were never privy to.

The artist’s photorealistic work brings captivating portraits of characters in motion and warm rural images of California’s landscape to the collection.      

“I wanted to provide a presentation of people, as well as historical themes,” she said.

Of the 44 pieces on exhibit, eight were painted by Kostiw. That may sound few in number, perhaps, but not in volume. Kostiw likes to paint large and many of her works are about 20-by-40 inches, large enough canvases to virtually capture the entire landscape the art means to capture.

Among her subjects are the San Joaquin River and an old Valley train station. But her favorite is a piece that captures local sunflowers.

“The reason that’s so much of a favorite of mine is that it’s all just sunshine. It makes me feel good and everybody who sees it, it makes them feel good, too,” she said.

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