By Jennifer Kahn Barlow
Paula Zeller, MAA's 2019 winner of the prestigious Bertha Clum prize for her piece Frankly Pizza Magic, is remarkable, as is her painting. If you did not get a chance to see this phenomenal art at this year’s Paint the Town Labor Day Show, it depicts a Frankly Pizza baker attentivity tending to his pizzas. The warm glow of the oak fire brick oven contrasts the cool kitchen, making this painting pop.
Paula captured a moment in time but gave us a glimpse of something more.
Frankly Pizza in Kensington is a favorite of Paula and her family. Besides the amazing food, Paula said she loves to go there to watch the hustle and bustle of all the people within the restaurant. With Frankly Pizza Magic, she wanted to show the pizza making process; its grace, rhythm, and focused energy. The pizza baker was really connecting with his surroundings and the job that was in front of him.
“Frank and I we were super happy for Paula and her win!" said Kate, one of the pizza restaurant's co-owners. "We think the painting is beautiful and so lifelike! We were honored to be included as the subject of her piece. We're proud to be a Kensington destination!”
Paula (center, in gray top) also won a prize in the Portrait category at the Paint the Town Labor Day Show. Photo by Jennifer Kahn Barlow
Paula is now in her last year at the Compass Atelier’s Master Artist Program in Rockville. Her thesis, which will be on exhibition in Spring 2020, focuses on connections. These connections can be between people, people and certain situations, or even people and things that are important to them.
Paula works from photos and carries her camera wherever she goes, allowing herself to be ready to capture an inspiring connection. Paula’s currently working on a scene of some children at Baltimore’s HonFest dressed in the festival’s attire with big hair, cat eye glasses, and Hawaiian shirts.
Paula said the “shared joy” of that particular moment, especially in her hometown of Baltimore, makes her happy every time she works on the painting.
Paula being interviewed by an NBC Washington Channel 4 reporter at the Labor Day Show. Photo by Elissa Poma
Paula’s love for oil painting grew as a child and carried her through her teenage years in Baltimore. Her career path, however, led her toward working with children with disabilities and writing/editing health information. Upon retirement, Paula felt something was missing, which led her back to her paint brush and eventually The Compass Atelier program. Paula loves the flow of painting, especially when she is immersed in her artistic process.
Paula lives in Gaithersburg and works from her home studio, while also tutoring children and adults.
Paula is an artist that is one to watch! We look forward to seeing more amazing captured connections by her in the future.
Watch a video interview with Paula
See more of Paula's art