Mercer Island artist to showcase work at Bellevue Festival of Arts

Louise Hankes, a Mercer Island artist, is the only Islander in this year’s Bellevue Festival of the Arts. - Contributed Photo
Louise Hankes, a Mercer Island artist, is the only Islander in this year’s Bellevue Festival of the Arts.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

Inspiration comes from a variety of places, as any artist can attest. For one Mercer Island artist, the inspiration for her work has come from children.

Louise Hankes’ artwork was the only art from Mercer Island to be selected for the Bellevue Festival of the Arts, July 27 through July 30, in downtown Bellevue. Her work was inspired in many ways by children at Lakeridge Elementary, where she is an art docent, as well as her own childhood.

“When I was growing up, my mom told me about my grandfather, who was an artist in Norway,” said Hankes. “Wood carvings and Norwegian art was a big part of my influence, and I was always interested in it.”

Recently, working as an art docent at Lakeridge Elementary, Hankes added a new layer to her art.

“I got really involved,” she said. “The kids are like little sponges and they really inspired me. My colors brightened up, working with them.”

Hankes’ work, acrylic-on-canvas, features the swirling designs from her Scandinavian past.

“My inspiration is when you close your eyes right before you go to sleep and there is that swirling behind your eyelids. It was coming to me as I’m getting ready to slumber. It just came fully formed. It’s really been a joy and the floodgates keep opening,” she said.

Hankes, who has a degree in fine arts, worked largely in silkscreen and film in the early part of her career.

“I love film and flat print media,” she said. “I’ve always had a studio in my house, but more recently about 12 years ago, I had my first child, then another.” Hankes’ two children are how she became an art docent.

About two years ago, she started with the idea of the series of acrylics, sharing her first idea with a group of moms on the Island who got together to share their art and stories.

“I started with a small 6x6 piece of board that’s meant for painting before I did it on the large canvas,” she said. Her series of what were originally eight paintings has grown to the larger collection that she will be showing at the BFOA.

The show is the first time Hankes has ever participated in a juried event. Her decision to enter came after visiting the show last summer. She was one of just four artists from the Island invited to the show since 1995.

“About a year ago, a friend from Kirkland who does sculptures and paintings told me I had to go to the festival,” she said. “I wasn’t sure, but when we went, I was just so impressed, and afterward we went to Starbucks and I said I want to put together an application and apply. It’s the first time I’ve done a show, except when I was a student.”

Since finding out Hankes was accepted, she has been gathering her pieces and preparing for the show.

“They have been fabulous,” said Hankes of the festival’s organizers. “Since I’m brand new at this, they have been very helpful. I’m getting a ton of support from the community.”

While only her paintings will be on display at the festival, Hankes said she can see this idea turning into sculpture works as well.

“I can see it as a sculpture series in the same vein,” said Hankes. “I’d have to learn about welding and all of that, but I’m ready to learn. I would really love to get one downtown — I love the sculpture park.”

The BFOA features approximately 150 artists from around the western United States and beyond.


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