The Garrett County Arts Council spotlight turns this month on a person who participates in the organization as both an artist and a staff member. Rebecca E. Diller (“Becky”) has been with the GCAC since 2016 as a member of The Gallery Shop team. While her main areas of art are photography and jewelry making in her business named Living Branches, Becky’s artistic talents go far beyond those genres, making her a valued member of the shop and the GCAC community.
Becky grew up in Garrett County and earned an associate degree in business management from Garrett College. She has completed a number of workshop courses in photography, painting, and other arts with artists such as Jillian Mazur, Penny Knobel-Besa, and more. In addition to photography and jewelry, Becky practices oil painting, quilling, wood-burning, and drawing.
She has been making jewelry since she was just 13, and has been interested in photography since she was a child. She said she remembers getting disposable cameras and using up the film on her friends and pets. In time she obtained a digital camera and was hooked on the art.
“I liked getting a different view on things that you normally would think about,” she said. “Taking a couple of photography classes helped me enhance the skills I already had as well as teach me new things about photography. My two older brothers were also very helpful in helping me do better as a photographer.”
As for jewelry, the artist has been fascinated with the process since she was a very small child and remembers using bead kits to make interesting and unique pieces. She branched out on her own as a teenager to learn how to create some of her own.
“Once I got the supplies I needed, I just kept trying new things and practicing the techniques until I got good at them. Then friends and family started wanting some of the pieces I had made, and it just went from there,” she said.
Her jewelry is now on sale at The Gallery Shop in the form of unique wire rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and other pieces. Her photography is also available as wall hangings, prints, magnets, and other items.
Becky credits her mother as having been the most significant influence in her life when it comes to art.
“She has a lot of artistic talent herself, which has inspired me a lot,” Becky said “She always encouraged my brothers and me in our artwork. She would also submit my artwork in various children’s art competitions while I was growing up, like at the Garrett County Fair, where I did win some awards over the years.”
Her favorite subjects for her art are animals and nature.
“Beatrix Potter was also one of my favorite artists growing up and was an inspiration as well. Seeing how she drew her inspiration from the things around her and persevering in what she loved to do despite the challenges she came across has always been inspiring to me,” Becky said.
Being a GCAC member artist makes Becky a helpful customer service representative at the gallery. Her association with member artists gives her the ability to keep customers informed. Her knowledge of how the co-operation works is an asset to all artists involved at the shop. Artists who join the GCAC may submit their work to be considered for gallery inclusion through a jurying process. Once the art is accepted, the GCAC will exhibit the art, market it, include it in all publicity, and sell it. The GCAC retains a small percentage of each sale to cover the shop’s expenses, but the artists receive the amount they wish to receive for each piece.
Kathy Beachler, executive director of the GCAC, and Rachel Precht, gallery manager, have been enhancing the marketing process at The Gallery Shop with greatly increased publicity and promotion. The GCAC Board of Directors launched SEYMOUR, an Art Experience, a few years ago, an active and user-friendly online marketplace for member artists’ work. It is now part of the newest endeavor, the $MART ART Initiative, for which Becky has been named the GCAC photographer. She has spent many hours arranging and photographing art for effective online promotion.
“Becky always has a smile on her face and an eagerness to learn new techniques in the arts as well as spreadsheets,” Beachler said. “She pitches in whenever needed and is a real asset to GCAC and our community.”
For more information about the GCAC, please visit garrettarts.org, or come to The Gallery Shop and visit with artist and staff member Becky Diller!
By Mary McEwen of The Garrett County Arts Council