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Melinda Curtin (born 1963) is an American mixed-media artist based in Kettle Falls, Washington. She is known for her reverse glass paintings, functional floor art, and city alphabets, all of which combine traditional folk styles with contemporary mediums. She opened her studio, called Melbeck Studio, in 2007 while in Tucson, Arizona.
Melinda is the daughter of homebuilder Howard Curtin, who designed and built exactly 100 homes over his career. The transitional contemporary style of many of her father's homes that she grew up around shaped her work during her career. In addition, Melinda credits her father with influencing her work ethic, originality, and love of crafts.
An art gallery owner in Tucson, Arizona for ten years, Melinda became a full-time artist in 2007, focusing mainly on floor art at first. She dabbled in traditional canvas painting and watercolor during her early career in the 1980s and 1990s but has since gravitated towards more eclectic art forms like floor art and reverse glass paintings. Today, Melinda's art can be found in dozens of galleries across the country.
Functional floor art
This medium was heavily influenced by indigenous rugs of the American Southwest. Melinda paints a wide variety of designs on her take on the Native American rugs, which are actually mats made of a rubber-like material. Many patrons place the floor mats in kitchens and bathrooms because of their durability and unique ability to add flair to a room. After moving from Arizona to Washington State, her floor art took on a decidedly more contemporary style, made up of more geometric shapes, patterns, earth tones, and cool colors compared to her earlier style.
Reverse glass paintings
Another of Melinda's forms are reverse glass paintings, based on a European folk art form. In this method, she paints directly onto the reverse side of glass with many layers of paint. Larger pieces are typically painted directly on salvaged old windows, adding a rustic feel to the art.
Her most recent foray is another functional medium. For this, she adapts the reverse glass painting method to glass clocks. These have designs ranging from geometric shapes to whimsical animals.
Curtin is known for her fine art prints called city alphabets made from her original reverse glass paintings. These capture the essence of a city in one work by depicting important landmarks or cultural aspects of a city for each letter of the alphabet. She has created city alphabets for Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, Salem, Oregon, Los Angeles, Tacoma, Washington, Ithaca, New York, and Spokane, Washington, with many more cities in the works. The latter city's alphabet was commissioned by Family Promise of Spokane for use as a fundraiser to support local homeless families. Otto Klein, the Senior Vice President of the Spokane Indians, a MiLB team featured in the alphabet, described the work as a "great representation of [the city]."
The Ithaca Alphabet, completed in August 2016, includes landmarks such as Moosewood Restaurant, Llenroc and the State Theatre. Part of the proceeds of the Ithaca Alphabet sales will benefit Ithaca Hospicare and Palliative Care Services.
Expanding into other types of alphabets, Curtin partnered with the Tides Tavern, an iconic Gig Harbor restaurant, to create the Tides Tavern Alphabet. The original painting was hung prominently above the bar and includes letters such as "fish and chips" and "tapmaster."
- "About the Artist – Melinda Curtin," Gig Harbor Open Studio Tour, 2016
- Gonzales, Jay "Retired builder develops new craft with commodes," Arizona Daily Star, 2015
- "Focus on Funktional," Tucson Lifestyle Magazine, 2011
- KOLD News 13 Tucson, "Melbeck Studio Interview," 2011
- Art for a Home, "About the Artist," 2015
- Toms, Dustin, "Indians Recognized in Spokane Alphabet" 2015
- Wexler, Jacob, "Ithaca Alphabet Painting," The Cornell Daily Sun, 2016
- Bourscheidt, Barb, "'Meet Me at the Tides,'" Westsound Home & Garden, 2018
- "Festival Awards," 2016