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Artist shares her life with community

When you think of art in Shafter, Charlotte White, Deanna Nelson and Lorena Castillo would naturally come to mind. These artists have given the community many pieces to admire, from White's depictions of local landmarks to Nelson's touching portraits of people and landscapes. There is an artist in town who presented some of her creations at the Colours Festival that you may not have heard of. Martha Maynard, whose daughter, Stephanie Benito, is Stan Wislon's right-hand person at the Shafter Depot Museum, has been painting for decades. She was a teacher during her working career, but always tried to make art a part of her teaching.

"Painting has always been therapeutic for me. It has got me through a lot of challenges in my life," Maynard explained.

Although she showed several of her works at the festival, none of them were for sale. "I thought about maybe selling them, but when I mentioned it, my family laid claim to the paintings, each one having their favorite piece." When suggesting selling her painting of a seascape, Benito spoke up and said, "You can't do that. This is mine." She got similar responses when suggesting other pieces that she would be showing. Realizing that the pieces were such a part of their family, she decided that she couldn't part with any of them.

Maynard said that each one of her paintings has a special memory with it, or a unique inspiration. She had a few with barns in the painting, a favorite of hers. "I just love barns. Everywhere we went in our travels, I would take a picture of a barn and the landscape around it and then put it down on canvas."

When showing me the painting of a large barn, an icy road, a farmer's gate and a beautiful sunrise, Maynard said that she had a picture of this scene and had it hanging in her house for years. "Then, it got damaged, and I decided to recreate the picture, but a lot bigger. I also put some of my personal touches in it, like the icy road, the gate, and her signature birds. You see, each one of Maynard's pieces has three birds soaring in the sky. "The three birds represent the Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit. That is sort of my signature in my pieces," Maynard said.


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