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Unusual canvases provide artist’s creative outlet

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Meg Harper enjoys challenges – just ask her.

“It’s so easy to create inspiration if you want it, no matter your mood,” Harper says. “I think inspiration is overrated and oftentimes people use it as a crutch. But I’m not that way at all.”

Harper, like many artists, spends her days painting. But it’s the canvases that Harper uses that separates her from most artists.

If you go
WHAT: Rio Grande Arts & Crafts Festival
WHEN: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, March 9, through March 11
WHERE: The Lujan Exhibit Complex at Expo New Mexico, 300 San Pedro NE
HOW MUCH: $6 for adults; three-day festival pass $8, and children under 12 free; $5 for parking

“I’ve used old tin roofs, shutters, streets signs and cupboard doors,” she says. “Having these different canvases does create challenges for me, but I work harder to find a way to make it all work.”

Harper will be one of 200 artists showing at the Rio Grande Arts & Crafts Festival, running from March 9-11. The festival will feature paintings, sculpture, jewelry, weaving and woodwork.

Ruth Gore, the festival’s director, says the festival is marking its 24th year. She says the juried show is a top-ranked show in the Southwest and is expected to attract 25,000 visitors. The festival also will include live entertainment, ongoing artists’ demonstrations, the Kid’s Creation Station and food sampling.

This will mark the third year that Harper, of Arizona, has come to the festival, and she says it’s an enjoyable experience.

“The festivals have been great, and my work sells very well in New Mexico in general,” she says. “I attribute it because the art lovers are so passionate about color and my pieces are really vibrant.”

Harper made the switch to recycled art about three years ago. A self-described recycling fanatic, she wanted her art to mimic her way of living.

“I’m proud of my beliefs and if I can (I want to) inspire people to be more conscious about their choices when it comes to cleaning up the world,” she says. “It’s a great way to have fun with art and I’m able to challenge myself with the different canvases.”

Harper says that nature represents the truest essence of beauty. She says it has the power to influence people’s moods in ways no other subject matter does.

“To me it’s perfect,” she says. “Growing up surrounded by the forest and mountains of the Adirondacks in upstate New York solidly routed my reverence with nature. It was very accessible to me and is where I spent most of my time and where I still feel closest to God.”

Harper also enjoys traveling and says she and her husband received a gift of a vintage trailer in a couple years ago; she spent last summer traveling through Wyoming.

“We’d stop and I’d paint for a day or so,” she says. “It was very freeing to be able to just sit down and paint in a different area each day.”

Harper’s newest project is painting on vintage luggage – which she’s never done before.

“It’s great because it even smells like luggage,” she says. “But the colors show so well and the curves of the luggage really give the paintings more depth. I should have some of these at the festival.”