Athena artist’s work at Marcy’s Bar & Lounge


WALLA WALLA — Jenny Hegdal’s current show hanging at Marcy’s Bar & Lounge was born of desperation.

She paints now, but the Athena-based artist’s first love is ceramics, she explained, finding tactile joy in manipulating the clay.

When Hegdal had a baby girl two years ago, however, something had to give. Ceramic work requires a number of steps before the final outcome … there weren’t enough hours in the day, she said.

But when Alexandria, now 2 years old, naps, Hegdal can get out paints and let her imagination fly. “It’s therapy for me,” she said.

Therapy is a good thing. Hegdal, 31, is on leave of absence from Central Middle School in Milton-Freewater, where she has taught art for five years. On Nov. 7, her husband of 10 years met a deer head-on in a truck vs. animal crash on Highway 11 just south of Milton-Freewater.

Elias Hegdal spent months in the hospital as a result of injuries he suffered when the deer’s head smashed through his windshield. He’s home now and working toward full recovery.

When she returns to her students, Jenny Hegdal will continue doing for them what others did for her, she said. While she recognized her love of art at a young age, she had no plan to pursue anything formal until she came under the tutelage of Weston-McEwen High School art teacher Nancy Reese Duff.

Duff insisted Hegdal consider college, which led to being in art classes led by Michael Booth at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton.

Booth seconded Duff’s opinion and pushed Hegdal to the next step, she said. “He wrote a letter for me for Western (Oregon University).”

At that school she went for her dream of teaching art and paying forward the encouragement she received, Hegdal said. “I didn’t want to be a lonely artist. I like being around people.”

Teaching kids is its own reward, and allows Hegdal to use her natural talent at showing students how to draw, she said. “It’s art, so it’s easy to get them excited. They love using their hands, they love being creative.”

Studying art leads to using all the senses at a higher level and better problem-solving, the educator noted. “It’s different than all the other subjects, Some kids just flourish here.”

The Weston native spent some time in Paris, where the artists of the 1800s caught her fancy, she said. “I like art that is pretty, a lot of the Art Nouveau movement. And I have an art history minor, so I have seen a lot of paintings that stuck with me.”

Hegdal struggles to define her own style, she conceded. “I love to just sit down for a couple of hours, but I am very, very bad at planning. I never know what it will be until I sit down and paint it. ”

Her art is about color, lines, music and mood. Her pieces often involve the female form in some way, she said. “I feel feminine when I paint. I think that is just me, being a girl.”

Hegdal’s work can be seen at Marcy’s Bar & Lounge, 35 S. Colville St., through the first week of June.


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