By Kelly Fleming
Arlington artist Beth Knipstein is well known at Gateway Arts for her bright personality and colorful artwork. Her bubbly persona can be easily observed in her art, which is filled with bright colors, references to Disney, pop culture, and whimsical elements. Beth works across a range of mediums, including paint, colored pencils, weaving, jewelry, and fabric to create her recognizably colorful and engaging style.
While Beth has been working at Gateway since 2007, her love of art started much earlier. When Beth was three years old, she began to create art as a way to effectively communicate her thoughts and feelings. In a Zoom conversation with Beth and her mother, Patty Cameron, Patty talked about Beth’s use of art throughout her school experience.
“Beth took all the same classes as everyone else and conveyed her knowledge through art,” Patty remarked. “Instead of book reports, Beth would illustrate a book. Instead of writing an essay about the US government, Beth made a diagram of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches.”
Beth used her passion for art to succeed in school, and she has continued to employ a positive attitude and artistic communication style throughout her adult life. Beth put her optimistic attitude to good use in the summer of 2020 by creating a home window gallery dedicated to Massachusetts essential workers. Beth watched the news every day during the beginning of the pandemic and continues to pay close attention to the case numbers and other statistics about COVID-19. She channeled her concern about the pandemic into her artwork, creating hopeful messages for essential workers and her neighbors to see. She hoped that essential workers driving by would see her window gallery and feel supported during their stressful days.
Some of the pieces in Beth’s window gallery included messages such as, “Thank You Frontline Workers,” “Be Safe,” “Hang in There,” “Hope It’s Over Soon,” and “Prayers for sick folks, get better soon I hope.” She also created pieces reflecting upon the loss of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. Beth shared messages of hope through her work, including “Black Lives Matter,” “Black and White Together,” and a portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Recently, Beth has included holiday-themed works and other celebratory pieces in her gallery along with messages related to the pandemic. She included some Christmas artwork, a piece proclaiming “Hooray for a new president,” and a picture of a cat dressed as a leprechaun, with the message, “Happy Green Day.” Beth also takes art requests from Patty’s Facebook friends, making her window gallery a collaborative and dynamic reflection of current events. Beth’s gallery presents current events with an uplifting spin, offering encouragement and reminding us to celebrate the big and little things in life – whether that is a new spring flower or a new president.
Beth’s window is not the only venue where her work has been featured. Her work has been spotlighted at the Gateway Gallery and at Barney’s NY in Boston. Her painting of Fenway Park was featured in the art book A Room of Golden Shells, and Beth personally presented her drawing of Red Sox player Manny Martinez to Gerry Morrissey, former commissioner of the
Department of Developmental Services. Beth has also starred in the Center for Emerging Visual Artists’ documentary Three Paths. When asked if she enjoys sharing her artwork with others through her Gateway Store page, Beth responded with a resounding “Yes!” She also hopes to one day collaborate with the Red Sox Foundation and to see her work featured in the Boston Globe.
Beth hopes to return to Gateway Arts soon – she is tired of Zoom meetings, as most of us are by now! Patty tells us that while Beth has adapted to Zoom and “has gotten the hang of telling people they’re on mute,” she misses commuting to Gateway and working with mediums she can’t use at her dining room table. For now, Beth loves adding to her window gallery, but she can’t wait to share her artwork with the staff and other artists at Gateway. In the words of Beth’s window gallery, we “hope [the pandemic] is over soon!”