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Painting keeps longtime Las Vegan, Hannelore Lowrey, 91, young

Throughout her 91 years, Hannelore Lowrey has traveled to the far reaches of the United States. She drew upon many of her memories in her new art show, “The Varied Faces of Water.”

The exhibit, on display at Spring Valley Library, features Lowrey’s acrylic paintings of the waters she remembers and the ones she imagines.

As a teenager, Lowrey lived through World War II in Berlin.

“Our apartment where we lived got blown out from a bomb,” she remembers.

She turned 18 when the war ended and hoped to study art.

“I told the counselor I wanted to be an advertising artist,” Lowrey says. “She said we don’t need artists, we need you to be in an office. So I took an apprenticeship in an office.”

She met an American GI named Frank, and went with him when he was transferred to Frankfurt. After marrying, they moved to Denver.

Over the next 18 years, they lived in Denver, Alaska, Cape Cod, Greenville, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia.

In 1966, they settled in what was then the small, quiet city of Las Vegas.

Lowrey took up freelance advertising art for furniture stores while working as an art director at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, earning many awards.

She discovered scratchboard art while designing advertisements for House of Lamps. The art form requires Lowrey to cut thousands of grooves into matte black paint layered over white clay.

“I think scratchboard is my better talent,” she says.

After her son and daughter grew up, Lowrey retired and she and her husband bought an RV and traveled the country together.

A new great-grandmother and a grandmother of seven girls, Lowrey says she stays young by continuing to respond to that artistic impulse that calls inside of her.

What inspired you to create “The Varied Faces of Water?”

I had two or three paintings of water I showed at a little art show here. Someone told me they liked these water paintings and I got encouraged. I had white water, the waterfall and a deep pool and thought, “Well, there’s more water.” I tried to think of other waters in the world. I really want to thank Mr. Darren Johnson, the library coordinator for Clark County libraries. He didn’t know me or how old I am when he accepted it.

Where was one place you went on your RV road trip?

We didn’t travel continuously. We came home every few weeks when working, then went on another trip. We went back to Alaska 40 years after we were stationed there. We had lived in Anchorage and it was nice to see it again.

A lot of attention is given to encourage children and young people to pursue art. Should people in advanced age embrace their creativity?

Sure, I think so. I mean it actually never dies in your mind. What’s more, it gives old people a purpose. Like it’s really helped me, I guess. When you get old, your kids have their own family. They’re busy. You get pretty lonely. If you have something like a hobby, it’s good. Really good. It comes from within. Almost an impulse. You want to create something. As an artist, you have that. And so, I feel at my age that I accomplished something. It’s keeping me young.

When did you start working as an artist?

After the war, in Germany, there was no industry. When it started up, it was little things. There was this factory that made lampshades. I painted lampshades, mostly flowers and gardens. Things like that. They had some kind of paper. And after I painted them, they fixed it and it looked like hide or leather. It looked really good, not like paper. I made good money actually, because I got paid by the piece.

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.

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