Kathy Palumbo

Kathy PalumboYou walk by a diminutive woman with short dark brown hair in the hallway. She holds a coffee cup in one hand and a cigarette in the other, standing by a ceramic ash depository that is about as tall as she is. Whatever casual comment you would make to her would be met with a razor- sharp humorous retort. You would then realize that all was ok with the world and everything was in its rightful place at that moment. Kathy Palumbo had a way of making feel that you were in the familiar company of a good friend.

Kathy Jean Palumbo was born in January 1953 and was an early client at the Short Center North. Kathy lived with her parents during her time at SCN, and remained at SCN until around the year 2000 when her family moved to Folsom. Her father, Lou, had been a Lieutenant General, and something of that no-nonsense persona could be found in Kathy. She had a short allowance for foolishness, and was effortless in her ability to inform the deserving party of her discern that it was time for them to “knock it off”. She was smart and opinionated, but also was straightforward in her desire to learn. She was not born an artist, but we don’t think there has been another client at SCN with more drive to become one. Because of her perseverance and willingness to try again she blossomed into one of the most successful artists at SCN.

She had once told us that being a young adult had been difficult. She had gained fortitude through her life experiences that shaped her ability to transcend roadblocks that got in her way.   She was patient in learning new artistic skills, and had the battle scars from stained glass and linoleum block printing classes to prove it. She created detailed stained glass artworks under the mentorship of Kathleen Clark, some of which took up to a year to create. From Kathleen:

“Each time I would pass on my way up the hall I would make a wisecrack to her and she would come right back with an equal or better quip. I gained a lot of respect for her insight and philosophy of life, which was delivered via one-liners. Soon she decided she wanted to learn stained glass with me and we became close. She was a phenomenal artist who never lost her joy in creating…”

Kathy also created colorful paintings in advanced classes in the 1990’s lead by Steve Vanoni and by Stephanie Skalisky. Kathy enjoyed finding inspiration in nature, many of her works feature birds, trees, and flowers – especially birds – which she liked to observe and depict. Her observation skills are seen her paintings “6 Ducks Looking Left”, “Wild Parrots”, and “Red Winged Hawk”, in which the variations of the birds are carefully rendered, feather by feather. Kathy’s work also shows her skill in and discovery of painting techniques; it is obvious she put a great deal of study into depicting natural themes, adding to this her own artistic touches.   She was also thoughtful in her use of space; in one work a large tree spreads out over the entire horizontal plywood surface on which it was painted, shading the birds that romp below. She also has divided the spaces of her landscapes up into striated layers, sometimes consisting of orange skies, purple mountains, golden poppies and thoughtfully mottled grasses ablaze with color. Her cleverness in using space and her sense of humor are at their best in “Flamingo Chair”, a painted furniture piece in which she uses the verticality of her medium as the perfect showcase for the elongated neck of a pink flamingo.

Kathy also enjoyed making painted portraits of people she liked including one of Kathy Powell, the former director of SCN, who, like Ms. Palumbo, was known to trade a verbal barb or two.

Kathy passed away in October 2009. She is very much missed by all who knew her.

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