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Calling all Mountain Home art fans! Christmas has brought a special artist to Rapp’s Barren Brewery this year.
Artist Jenna Wellein and her Hawaiian-styled artwork have found a new home here in the Ozarks after moving to the area this year, and her art is now being displayed in Arkansas’s top brewery throughout the Christmas holiday.
A Washington native, the formerly Oahu-based artist has had her works displayed in several high-profile art galleries in Hawaii. She was commissioned to create a painting for Second Lady Karen Pence, who visited the military’s annual Joint Military Spouses Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2017.
“We really love this community,” said Jenna Wellein during her art event at Rapp’s Barren on Dec. 7. “If my art can find a place in this community, that’s even better. Our focus is to really just be involved in this community in one aspect or the other.”
Born in Edmonds, Washington, Wellein spent much of her earlier life painting as a way to pass time in the greater Seattle area.
As the young artist continued to grow older, Wellein began shifting her focus to higher education, though she would still take to painting from time to time.
“I just always loved it as a little kid,” Wellein said. “Never took a class. Not one.”
After graduating high school, Wellein began attending college at Central Washington University, where she would focus on earning a degree in Family Consumer Science, Public Health and Sociology.
While attending Central Washington University, Wellein would meet her husband, Miles Wellein, a budding college student who was focused on earning his commission in the U.S. Army. The two would be married the day after graduating college in 2009.
The couple quickly received orders to Fort Riley in Kansas. Throughout their time in the Army, the Welleins would move from Fort Riley to Fort Benning in Georgia before finally being stationed at Fort Shafter in Honolulu in 2015.
“We did the military thing,” Wellein said. “I reinvented myself with a new career every time we moved, and nothing really stuck until Hawaii. That’s when my hobby became my career.”
Wellein said she began focusing on selling her artwork and earning commissions as she was staying home with her son after his birth. Prior to arriving in Hawaii, Wellein said she had only focused on the occasional sale and commission.
Her art would take off in popularity, landing the artist in some of Hawaii’s biggest art galleries like Gallery Olani, Magnolia Hawaii, Island Treasures, The Royal Hawaiian, Evo Art and Aesthetic Hawaii. Her work was also featured in Japan’s “AllHawaii” magazine.
Her biggest commission would come in 2017, after she was chosen to create “Flourish” for Second Lady Karen Pence’s visit to the Joint Military Spouses Conference in Hawaii.
“I was in a couple of galleries before that, but that was when everything really took off and all the galleries started taking me very seriously and it developed from there,” Wellein said.
Wellein’s Hawaiian-inspired art focuses on crashing waves, colors of flora and rainbows, and the unique textures of the earth. Each painting is created with a palette knife instead of a brush to allow the young artist to “develop a bold sculptural painting style that brings color, texture, and movement together.”
Some of her work includes “Flowers in the Forest,” a high-contrast piece with moody green tones and vibrant textured flowers. Another piece, “Palette Bluff,” celebrates color by creating a whimsical edge of a bluff overlooking a river. The painting marks Wellein’s largest piece to date.
“Momentum 1&2” are non-objective abstract pieces that seek to show momentum in clouds through color, movement and texture.
“Color, movement, texture is kind of my brand. My focus,” Wellein said. “When I focus on non-objective abstracts, I still always kind of have those three principles in mind. Even when I’m focusing on something that’s a still life, I add in that whimsy.”
In 2020, Wellein and her husband left the Army behind and began traveling the country by RV with their son for a year, before ultimately deciding to settle in Arkansas.
“We went everywhere. We were all over the U.S., and then we bought our place here sight unseen. We got 40 acres and a sweet little house,” Wellein said. “We have clean water and good people. We absolutely love it here. We’re looking to put down roots. We wanted to start over, and this won over everywhere we went.”
Since moving to the Mountain Home area, Wellein has started homesteading on her property, as well as displaying some of her artwork in locations like Momentum Coffee in Gassville. Rapp’s Barren marks her second art display in the area, and her work will be available at the brewery for the next three months.
She said her goal is to eventually open her own gallery in Mountain Home.
For more information on Jenna Wellein and her art, please visit Jenna Wellein Art here.