Artist enjoying wild ride on the wild side
Post Independent Staff
Somewhere along the line in her development as the person she is today, Linda Drake did a Superman turnabout.
From a mild-mannered Clark Kent-type bank clerk she transmogrified into a wacky artist.
She’s much happier this way.
Now, in direct rebellion against what she calls the “panty hose brigade,” she tools around town in a wildly painted Mazda 323 with Sponge Bob Squarepants seat covers and a horn that makes animal noises.
She has abandoned the bean counter life and now creates silk screen T-shirts and tote bags with slogans such as “I’m out of estrogen and I’ve got a gun,” “I kiss better than I cook,” and “I’m still a hot babe but it comes in flashes.”
She’s also heavily involved in the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, where she serves on the exhibits committee. She’s now trying to drum up entries for the “Wheels” exhibit, which will show art having to do with, that’s right, wheels, including “art cars.”
Her art car is painted sky blue and festooned with jungly flowers, flying angel dogs and kitties and a big sun face on the top.
What really happened to Drake was turning 40.
“At 40 I busted loose,” she said. “I was worn out being a panty hose teller. I loved to do art when I was little but I was never encouraged.”
But that didn’t stop her.
“I took some watercolor classes,” she added.
She quit her job in a bank and went to work at a silk screen shop where she learned the craft from a grumpy guy named Dan Kelly.
“He took me under his wing,” she said.
Although she grew up in Grand Junction, Drake led a peripatetic life married to a military man and ended up in Hilton Head, S.C. After about a year working with Kelly she moved back to Colorado.
She opened a shop, Lunar Designs, in Snowmass Village. She created her T-shirt designs in her garage and sold them in the shop, along with teddy bears.
The estrogen shirt, her first design, did well until the Columbine High School shootings. Then her biggest customer, a national catalogue called Casual Living, canceled the order.
Her launch into business forced her to take hold of her creativity. She learned to listen to her inner voice, not only about designs, but also about funny quips that might adorn her shirts.
And she learned that her forte was funny stuff for women.
“Women want something that makes them feel good,” she said. She also liked the idea of aiming at women in their 40s or older who were experiencing menopause.
“The estrogen shirt was my militant feminist phase,” she said with a laugh.
Now her designs run more to cats and Christmas themes.
One shirt shows a woman asleep in a hammock with her kitty and it reads, “I used to run with the wolves, now I nap with the cats.”
Besides her silk screening business, Drake channels her creativity into projects with other artists. One of her early experiences at the Glenwood art center was joining the Wild Women, a group of valley artists who show their work each year at the center. It was a great connection for her.
She and the Wild Women are now involved in a doll project in which each artist makes her own doll and passes it around for other artists to add their own flourishes.
At home, she covers furniture with buttons. She admits it’s an obsession.
“I’m in my button phase. I want to button a Volkswagen,” she said.
Her art car was more of an accidental art project.
“The paint began peeling on the car, and I thought, this is not a good statement for Lunar Designs.”
With a little research plus some help from husband Dan Gilbert, she stripped her car, sanded it down, painted on a primer, then went to work with artists’ acrylic paint.
All told it took about three months to complete.
The car is still a work in progress. Inside, she’d like to cover the headliner with feathers.
“It’s a giggle to drive,” she said.
Drake also urges folks with a beater car to consider it for an art project. The art cars will drive in the Strawberry Days Parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 21.
She’d also like to make it an annual tradition and invite art cars from all over the country.
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