Arts and Entertainment

The resourcefulness of a starving artist

Malia Macheem rises from the

Kitsap underground with a charming

exhibit of house paints on cardboard at

Ploy Studios in Bremerton.

With a mortgage, paid for by a day job as a qualified rental specialist, Malia Macheem is not your typical starving artist.

But in times like these — the economically depressing era of $4 for a gallon of gas — many painters, writers, musicians and more who have that incurable passion for art, especially here in Kitsap county, fall into the undernourished creators’ category.

“People throw around that term ‘starving artist,’ ” Macheem said. “It seems to me if you’re really starving and you’re really an artist, you’ll use whatever is at your disposal to make art.”

Enter: Her and longtime Bremer-artist Pat Cooper’s show “Paint. Paint. Paint. Paint.” It’s hanging at the artist-friendly, non-commission gallery, Ploy Studios in downtown Bremerton this month and will be feted Aug. 1 with a party for First Friday.

The whole air of the show exemplifies the resourcefulness of the starving artist.

Macheem’s side of the expansive one-room exhibit is comprised of pieces created entirely from house paint on cardboard. While on the other side, Cooper’s distinct images are rendered in white over black roofing paper, framed in recycled containers like briefcases and old cassette tape carriers. Not only do these elements demonstrate the artists’ resourcefulness, they also seem to give the work a very accessible quality.

Cardboard is a common man’s medium — evidenced by Macheem’s work selling out completely on the night of the show’s opening, July 18.

“I’m all about accessibility,” Macheem said in an interview with What’s Up last week, adding later that “it was a powerful moment for me when I realized that I really didn’t care if I made money, I just wanted people to look.”

She arrived at that sentiment during her time spent at the Northwest College of Art, near Poulsbo, en route to bachelors’ degrees in fine art and graphic design.

She’d left her home in Park City, Utah, on a whim to attend NWCA with only $36 in her pocket and a van full of possessions, not knowing a soul, but knowing if she could make it in that situation, she could make it anywhere. It’s been more than five years since then, but that trip demonstrates another side of the 26-year-old artist — she’s all about possibility.

“When I graduated, a lot of my dear colleagues moved to Seattle,” Macheem said, noting the allure of the city and that next step, but she stayed, seeing the possibility in Kitsap.

“Bremerton needs visionaries, Bremerton needs pioneers,” she said. “There’s this punk rock element to Bremerton that I just love.”

The grit and rigidity of the place along with the do-it-yourself, forget everything else attitude attracted her and keeps her underground, here in Bremerton.

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