Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
MT. PLEASANT - It's often hard for Annie Guldberg, a Mt. Pleasant-based artist, to describe exactly what it feels like when she's painting.
She likes to say she gets into an 'art zone,” a space several levels deep into her mind. When she's in 'the zone,” her husband can be standing directly in front of her and speaking, and she won't hear a thing.
'I kind of have to swim back out before I'm back,” she said.
A collection of the local oil painter's pieces are currently displayed at a gallery in the Mt. Pleasant Public Library through November. Many of her paintings in the exhibition are reflections of that otherworldly space she enters as she's making art.
For nearly a decade, Guldberg has been working to define her artistic style. Dreamlands, her largest collection, evokes a sense of familiarity with images of buildings, cityscapes and household items, often framed by swirling clouds of color.
'It mixes the real with the surreal,” she said.
With her cornerstone series, Guldberg is creating a world where people can get lost.
'Especially right now, I think people need an escape,” she added.
Guldberg's paintings are purposefully 'vague and void of specific details,” which allows people to attach their own thoughts, emotions and dreams to the art - a gateway to their own dreamland.
The artist's love affair with oil paints began when she was a 17-year-old student at the Mt. Pleasant Christian School. Her mother picked up a box of oil paints from a street curb during a spring cleanup day.
'I fell in love immediately. It was like the heavens opened up,” she said.
After moving away for college and spending a decade in Milwaukee, Guldberg and her family moved back to Mt. Pleasant in 2017. In just the last several months, making art and teaching art classes has become her full-time career.
'I've slowly worked less of the 9-to-5 jobs throughout the years as I worked toward this,” she said.
While displaying and getting her art seen in the time of COVID-19 has been challenging, Guldberg said she's thankful for opportunities like the gallery in the library.
'Art gives people a sense of belonging and home, whether it's in their home or out in the community,” she said.
That sense of home is amplified by being part of a small community. Guldberg, who believes art becomes more meaningful when people get a chance to meet the artist, said she's been able to build relationships with other local artists as well as businesses that help sell her art. It has also opened up conversations with other community members who may not have known about her art previously.
'You go to the library to get a book and then you see this whole new experience. My art or any of the other artists we've had there and you might think, ‘wow I know that person. I didn't even know they did that.'” she said.
'I think it can inspire people to work on their own and create.”
As the artist embarks on a new chapter of her career, inspiring others is exactly what she hopes to do. In addition to providing art lessons, the local artist is also part of the Mt. Pleasant Arts Impact board, a group dedicated to 'integrating arts and culture into the economy, education and everyday lives of residents.”
'[Art] has given everything about me really, and it's deep in there - it's just who I am. I'm so glad I discovered it,” she said.
'I really hope with the art lessons that I can maybe help some other person find that about themselves.”