Name: Kathy Lemke Waste, Sacramento, CA
Occupation: Artist, President, Board of Directors, American Women Artists, a nonprofit dedicated to getting work by women artists into museums.
Represented by: Bonner David Galleries in Scottsdale, AZ
At age 7, Kathy Lemke Waste had painted her first landscape. Although she started creating art at such a young age, it took her some time to become comfortable with the idea of art as a profession.
“I came to full time painting from a teaching career in Communication Studies. I could teach college students about public speaking, drama or debate but had trouble convincing myself it was OK to be an artist,” she says. “I left academe after 15 years of full time teaching, well short of the usual retirement age. I felt a lot of (self-imposed) pressure to succeed as an artist, to replace a teaching salary with an equivalent amount as a self-employed artist. I’d always studied art, taking classes and workshops throughout my teaching career, but leaving an established career for the art world was a big, scary step.”
Her bravery paid off, and was paid forward. Kathy currently serves on the board of directors for American Women Artists, an organization that gave her one of her first “big breaks” and helped her to get into the Munson Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As the President, she’s kept busy. “I wear many hats: fundraiser, friend-raiser and general rabble-rouser in support of women artists,” she says.
“During the course of my tenure on the board, we’ve come to understand how important it is for art by women to be seen in museums: the repositories of our cultural heritage,” Kathy says. “If an artist’s work is represented in the permanent collections of art museums, the value of the artist’s entire body of work increases.”
That’s how Kathy and the AWA began the “25 in 25” initiative, which is an effort to establish 25 museum shows over the next 25 years in order to bolster visibility of female artists, whose art comprises only 5% of the permanent collections of art museums both here in the United States as well as around the globe.
“Currently, we’ve booked exhibitions with American museums from New York to California through 2020. As part of that effort, we’re reaching out to build a Patron base of men and women who support our efforts and are stepping up to help us build this lasting legacy,” Kathy says.
As both a champion for women artists and an artist herself, Kathy dedicates her time to her craft, which is just as much work as a “regular” 9-5.
“[How] I make a living as an artist is to teach painting workshops, so I am still a teacher, only the subject matter has changed. Being an artist is like any other job; you have to get up every day and go to work, even on the days you’re not feeling it,” she explains. “The myth of the muse: some people seem to think artists can only work when they’re feeling filled with creative inspiration. There will be good days and bad days, good art and bad art. You have to work through all of it to arrive at a place of peace with yourself and your decision to make art your way of life.”
For bringing visibility to female artists, through her artwork, her teaching, and her work with American Women Artists, we think Kathy Waste is a very Cool Girl!