What: Three Rivers Fusion art show

When: Through May 31. Opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Where: San Juan College Henderson Fine Arts Center, 4601 College Blvd.

FARMINGTON — As a child, Janet Burns would spend a couple of weeks each summer visiting her great-aunt, who lived on a rural ranch in central California.

Every day, they visited an old-fashioned general store and bought penny candy.

"It felt like we were part of times that had already gone," Burns said.

Those memories have inspired Burns to use candy wrappers to create her artwork.

"I wish everyone had memories like that," Burns said. "Maybe that's why I want to share them."

Starting today, some of her candy wrapper art will be on display at the Henderson Fine Arts Center Art Gallery, along with work from two other local artists, Michael Billie and Debra Blair.

While the three artists have unique styles, they all use encaustic painting often called hot wax painting to create their pieces.

"We approach our work so differently, but we're using the same medium," Burns said.

Blair and Billie also draw on memories as they work.

Billie's work reflects his Navajo heritage, but he tries to also add a contemporary twist.

"I try to go with what I feel," Billie said.

When he was a child, Billie's mother wove purses. His mother's weaving is what inspired Billie's series of encaustic paintings based on Navajo rugs.

His work recently gained national attention. Billie has been invited to talk about how he incorporates his culture into his work at an encaustic artist convention in Santa Fe. He will also be featured in a juried show at the end of this month at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, Mass. The show is in conjunction with the International Encaustic Conference, which Billie will also be attending.

Billie said he thinks people are drawn to his art because they are fascinated with the Native American themes he puts into wax.

Blair, another artist featured in the Three Rivers Fusion art show, said that as a child, she spent a lot of time looking at maps and atlases while visiting her grandparents.
Debra Blair’s piece "Outwash" is an encaustic and gouache painting on a panel. Her work, as well as art from Janet Burns and Michael
Debra Blair's piece "Outwash" is an encaustic and gouache painting on a panel. Her work, as well as art from Janet Burns and Michael Billie, will be on display at the Henderson Fine Arts Center Art Gallery. (Hannah Grover/The Daily Times)
Nowadays, when she flies, she often looks down at the landscape below. Drawing on the ideas of maps and landscapes, Blair creates abstract encaustic paintings.

Sometimes, she'll start a project by first thinking about a town or a neighborhood she has visited or lived in. But the finished products are always maps of fictitious places.

Broken lines on her art represent waterways or roadways that connect people in a community. On a more abstract level, the lines also represent human relationships. Just like a road crumbles if it is not maintained, so does a relationship, Blair said. The fragmented lines in her art symbolize that concept.

"I use that as a metaphor for the network of relationships," Blair said.

Hannah Grover can be reached at hgrover@daily-times.com; 505-564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover.