ST. GEORGE—One stroll through an aisle at the Santa Clara Harmons Neighborhood Grocer and chances are you’ll laugh, roll your eyes, take a photo or do all three. But that’s the goal.
From Bob Ross painting broccoli that looks like trees to Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings” holding his “precious” toilet paper, one artist is showing her personality while bringing humor to the sometimes tedious task of grocery shopping.
“I just have a weird brain, like weird pieces of information from movies and my childhood,” artist Kirsten Beitler said. “I just seem to be able to make these bizarre connections to things that people think are funny.”
Beitler said she grew up with a love for drawing, and when her middle school art teacher saw her artistic potential, he included her in an after-school art program for select students – one that he paid for out of his own pocket.
“That was it for me,” Beitler said. “Because of him, I felt I could actually do this. He took us seriously. So, ever since the seventh grade, this is what I wanted to do.”
After completing an art scholarship to Dixie College, she pursued a bachelor’s degree in illustration at Southern Utah University.
“For me doing art has always been kind of a therapy session with myself,” Beitler said. “I need to get it out of my head and onto canvas. People would see the art and I would find out that they were feeling those things, too.
“So they wouldn’t feel so alone and I wouldn’t feel so alone. And that’s the motivation for me to keep sharing the things that I’m going to be painting anyway.”
While finishing her college degree, she found herself again greatly affected by the actions of a teacher. Witnessing her talent and potential, he told her she was a symbolic figurative oil painter, which led her to switch art gears and focus on portrait paintings – her main passion to this day.
“My favorite thing to paint is people and portraits,” she said. “I like to do all that kind of funky, introspective, weird, symbolic, angsty stuff.”
In the midst of a divorce, Beitler said she began to search for a full-time job that would provide insurance for her four sons. With flower shop experience under her belt, she was hired as the floral manager at the Harmons Santa Clara location upon its initial opening in 2016 – a position she held for two years. In 2018, she officially became the store’s in-house artist.
Beitler said the inspiration behind her creative and often humorous art visible up and down the aisles and hanging from the ceiling comes from a variety of topics like movies or TV shows, along with pop culture. Each drawing is done with a water-based pigment pen, and when the time comes, the art is erased and new art is created.
A few years ago, Beitler counted every single piece she had hand-done in the store and was shocked at what she discovered – throughout the store, she had over 300 pieces of art.
“A grocery store is a place where you can definitely use a lot of humor,” she said. “There are plenty of opportunities to have things to make fun of, then people feel better about spending their money.”
While she would love to be a full-time gallery artist someday, Beitler said she absolutely loves her job at Harmons. She continues to paint and sell her artwork on the side while striving to bring joy and humor to the everyday shopper.
Beitler will have her own gallery show during the Arts to Zion Design Studio Tour, which runs Jan. 12 – 16. On Saturday, Feb. 18, two of her art pieces will be featured at the Sears Dixie Invitational Art Show & Sale. In 2024, she will have a solo show at the St. George Art Museum.
To see all available art by Kirsten Beitler, or to commission an art piece, visit her website. Find @kirstenbeitler on Instagram and Tiktok to see her latest creations. Browse her various art throughout Harmons Grocery at 3520 Pioneer Pkwy. in Santa Clara.
“There’s a beautiful alchemy that happens between artist and viewer,” Beitler said. “That’s a new thing that didn’t exist before. You’re creating something together. It can be very healing and super powerful.”
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.