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Let’s Go Fly a Kite Local artist canvasses the Sooner state sky By Elaine Warner A


visit with artist Janene Evard is like walking into a room full of butter- fl ies with a net the size of a table-


spoon. Janene sweeps visitors up in a whirl- wind of ideas. Even though she is known for her kites, she makes art a part of everything she does.


Her interests and her educational back- ground are eclectic.


“I have a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in voice performance. The only subject I haven’t really studied is physics,” she says. About her art she says, “I’ve always drawn. My dad was in the Air Force and we moved around a lot, so I didn’t have long-term friends—I sang and colored and read. I fi rst drew trees because of the way the light affected them … I learned about shadows by drawing trees. And, of course, as a biology major, I drew all the time— whatever was under the microscope. I looked through the scope with one eye and drew with the other.”


So how did she get from there to making art


that fl ies? In the 1970s, Janene and her hus- band, Michel, were living in Los Angeles where Michel was an otolaryngologist—an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor. Traffi c was bad and the smog was getting worse. After attending a medical meeting in Dallas, Michel went to Ard- more to visit some physician friends and discov- ered that the town had no ENT specialist. He returned home and asked Janene, “How would you like to move to Ardmore, Oklahoma?” When she discovered that the town had a


symphony orchestra (sadly, now defunct), an art center, good schools, a church they liked, four fabric stores (she made many of her own clothes using either Vogue couture patterns or ones she designed herself), she agreed to the move. She became active in many community activities and served as president of the local arts council.


She also enjoyed the proximity to Oklahoma City and Dallas. While shopping in Dallas, she noticed a stream of men going in and out of a small kite store.


“These guys would come out of the store looking like they’d just seen Santa Claus,” she says. She came back to the arts council board and related her experience, saying, “There must be something to this.”


Coincidentally, at this time, the Sunday Okla-


homan featured an article on Richard Dermer, founder of Hideaway Pizza and a major kite en- thusiast. Janene contacted Dermer who offered to help her set up a kite festival in Ardmore. “Richard opened up another world for me,” she says.


He also introduced her to a kite-making re- treat on the branch campus of Texas Tech at Junction, TX.


“That’s where I was exposed to kite art. Peo-


ple came from around the world to that,” she says.


The group included both traditional kite builders and kite artists. And Janene’s world took fl ight.


Always fascinated with the way colors blend and the effect of light through color, this seemed a logical step. Now she creates kites


using all sorts of materials including flower petals, leaves (even lettuce), silk, ripstop nylon, tissue paper, wax and metal leafs. Her kites range in size from tiny fl yers the size of a gen- erous dinner napkin to huge constructions like the one she calls, “Hi Cutie, Do You Like My Earrings?”—a delta kite that stretches 16 feet from one wingtip to the other and features dan- gling wind chimes for the earrings. She also uses kite-making techniques to cre- ate wall pieces and hangings. She’s currently working on a triptych, “Homeland Security,” which uses thousands of small pieces of tis- sue paper to show a father blackbird chasing three intruders from a nest of baby birds. She creates different colors and shades by layering the pieces and works from a pattern that she has made, colored and numbered. Just one bird beak is made of six different pieces of tissue. She fuses them together using plastic wrap and a tiny iron.


Richard Dermer has nothing but praise for Janene and her work in promoting kites as art. “Janene has a unique perspective on kites and kite-building and she has produced a number of works that are startlingly original,” Dermer says.


Janene’s work has been on exhibit in several museums and galleries and she has participated in kite festivals across the world as a competi- tor, a lecturer and a judge. Although none of her works are currently on public display, she doesn’t need a formal setting. In the words of Richard Dermer, “The sky’s the biggest gallery there is.”


Tips of the Trade


✓ Fly a kite only in a clear, open area away from roads, power lines and airports.


✓ Never fl y in rain or lightning.


Artist Janene Evard displays plans for her next triptych, which uses thousands of small pieces of tissue paper to create a masterpiece. Photo by Elaine Warner


2828 OKLAHOMA LIVING OKLAHOMA LIVING


✓ To fly a kite, stand with your back to the wind. It is often help- ful to have a kite buddy who can release the kite. The fl yer holds the string; the pointer walks 25 to 50 feet away. The pointer throws the kite up and the fl yer pulls the string down. The Bernoulli effect will lift


the kite. OL


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