Katie Sevigny Brings Passion for Art to 7E Studio
By Amy Newman
An artist’s life is often a balancing act. On one side, the need for art to serve as a means of self-expression and self-exploration. On the other, the very real need to put food on the table and pay the rent, which can sometimes mean stifling creativity in the name of making pieces that have mass appeal to the public.
For artist Katie Sevigny, owner of the eponymous Katie Sevigny Studio in downtown Anchorage and 7E Studio in South Anchorage, walking that line was a compromise, but also a means to an end.
“Over the years, I was creating specifically to get my name out there and to sell, knowing eventually the scale will tip and people will just start knowing my name and collecting more of (my work) for that,” she explained. “I feel like now, I get to do a lot more painting of what I want to do versus what people want. Which is great, because then it makes it a lot more fulfilling.”
Growing up on Chicago’s eastside, Sevigny said she has “always been drawn to drawing, and then painting as well.” A high school art teacher encouraged her to take classes at the Chicago Art Institute; after graduating, she attended the Academy of Art in Chicago before heading to Alaska for a summer of fishing.
Like countless others before her, Sevigny fell in love with the state and made it her home. She enrolled as a journalism student at the University of Alaska, Anchorage “because you couldn’t make any money in art,” she said with a laugh.
But her passion for drawing pulled her back in. “I realized that was my talent, that was my calling, and I just needed to do it,” she said. “That’s what I’m good at.”
That passion led her to create some of Anchorage’s most recognizable artwork and eventually to open Katie Sevigny Studio, located next door to the iconic 4th Avenue Theater in downtown Anchorage. The gallery, which features a mix of artwork, crafts, pottery, and other hand-made works by local artists, has not only become a fixture in the Anchorage art scene, but a must-see destination for visiting art lovers as well.
Sevigny’s paintings are playful and vibrant, her drawings recognizable, though far from portraiture, and full of expression and feeling, particularly the eyes, which has always been a favorite focal point. Nowhere is that sense of fun and expression more evident than in her paintings of Alaska’s wildlife, arguably her most recognizable work.
“I think it’s fun to paint the animals,” she said. “I love doing the faces of animals, or just the eyes, and then you can get so crazy with the color or do the fur in crazy patterns. There’s a lot of elements that go along with that.”
Inspiration comes from a variety of places, she said, and her work goes in different directions based on what moves her at any given time. Her work is also cyclical, and she frequently finds herself returning to images and themes she’s painted in the past. Trees have featured prominently in many of her paintings over the years; people also used to be a big focal point, she said, and she occasionally still draws them for herself.
In 2015, Sevigny opened 7E Studio in South Anchorage, next to South Restaurant + Coffeeshop. Part of the rationale for opening a second store was practical, she said, to serve as a back-up in case the owners of the 4th Avenue Theater decide to tear the building down. But she also liked the idea of opening a smaller version of her gallery on the Southside, something different enough from Sevigny Studio to prevent “one store from cannibalizing the other.”
“I felt like I needed to change it up just enough just to get the people who were loyal to downtown to still go there and then just get a different crowd from the Southside,” she said.
Like the downtown gallery, Sevigny’s artwork adorns the store’s walls and shelves, as does the work of other local artists whose style gels with the store’s vibes. But 7E studio expands the offerings by local artisans, featuring furniture and handmade accessories, as well as clothing that reflects Sevigny’s personal style, which she describes as a lot of black with a “European/New York edge.
The gallery is artfully arranged, with twinkling lights strung along the ceiling, modern music playing from the speakers, and a Decoupaged wall covered in magazine cut-outs that’s a constant work-in-progress. In the back by the dressing rooms, a large wall invites guests to leave positive messages. She said she’s tossed around the idea of having just a mini gallery on the Southside, but for now the mix works.
In the end, though, it always comes back to the art.
“Really I just like painting,” Sevigny said. “However I keep it going, I’m going to paint and create things that people will enjoy. I want to paint, and I want to be part of the community, and I want to see people enjoy what I do. It keeps me going.”
Katie Sevigny Studio
608 W. 4th Ave.
Mon.-Thur. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Fri.- Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
11124 Old Seward Highway
Mon.-Thur. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Fri.- Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.