Nancy Nowak Utech: Artist Statement

Many people view abstract expressionism works and try to sort out what the artist has viewed and then abstracted, but abstract work is much more complicated than a mere abstraction of reality. My work reflects emotions, similar to fear, joy, and sorrow, but which cannot be adequately put into words, for example, the feel of the sun on your face. My emotions can only be expressed through color and texture. I endeavor, through my work, to awaken within the viewer those subtler emotions, which cannot be named or defined. The harmony the viewer achieves with those undefined emotions when viewing my work should create a sense of thrill at realizing that they a experiencing a moment, a feeling, solely defined for them, which transcends mere words. When my viewer reaches that place, they have achieved harmony with my work and a sense of indefinable joy. They are in harmony with that as yet undefined emotion. 







Some people are lucky enough to grow up knowing what their destiny is in life. Some of those are fortunate enough to follow their heart to that destiny. Artist Nancy Nowak Utech always knew she was an artist. Nancy was not one of those fortunate few to follow her passion.


Nancy’s father was a top engineer with Bell Labs so her early childhood meant moving. She grew up through early elementary school in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Her family made frequent trips to New Orleans and Ponchartrain Beach.  Nancy attributes her love of color to her life in the South. “I remember going to Jackson Square and seeing street artists working.  I loved to stand and watch them work and I knew I make art my life’s work as well. The colors of the building in the French Quarter were dazzling, mixed with the sounds of that wonderful New Orleans jazz.”


    Carnival I – 8”x10” – Acrylic on canvas


Her teachers in grade school would remark to her parents about her talent and love of color.  Nancy was never without paints of some sort or colored pencils. She could be found drawing in school whenever she could. Unfortunately for Nancy, her high school did not have an art program so her formal studies ended. But she continued to draw and paint.


In college, at Miami University in Ohio, Nancy was able to resume formal studies, painting realistic works in oil. She completed a degree in business though and went on to get her MBA. Throughout all this time, she continued to take formal training at community colleges near her. “Even though I did not pursue a career in the art community, I never really left it. It was my passion and I continued to pursue it. My father was an engineer who grew up in the Depression, who encouraged me to follow a path that would be economically more rewarding. I adored my father, so I followed his advice. But I continued to paint, mostly in watercolor, and take classes anywhere I found them.”


In 1977, Nancy began working in the Bell System. In 1983 she accepted a transfer to Denver, Colorado where she began handling negotiations and contracts for the seven western states. She got her law degree and for a while had her own firm. Then she rejoined the corporate community and handled international negotiations and contracts. “I traveled to some absolutely amazing places. I negotiated a contract for $35M in Dubai, the first woman ever to negotiated there. Just me and twenty men. I was very well treated. The sights and sounds of Dubai were amazing.” Nancy’s love of travel was always satisfied with her business trips, and she managed to always squeeze in time at the local museums and galleries.  “Travel exposes you to seeing things a bit differently. And every place uses color differently. It was the use of color that always made me smile when I traveled. It was like being on a visual overload all the time.” Nancy’s travels included China, England, France, Germany , Belgium, Abu Dhabi, Australia and Turkey.


“Unfortunately, my travel kept me from time with my twins, Sarah and David, and also from formal training. But as a single mom, you do what you have to do to support your family. So I guess Daddy was right after all in encouraging me to follow a different path.” Nancy’s travel and her legal career were abruptly stopped when she developed breast cancer.  “I remember my surgeon telling me that she had another patient who quit practicing law to become a painter. She did not know I painted. But she stressed that practicing law was too stressful to a survivor and I would need to quit. I did, five years later, once my kids were off to college.”


Nancy met the love of her life two weeks before she was diagnosed. “He is the most amazing man. He stayed with me through it all and three years later we were married. His name is Art! How well does that work out!”  Nancy and Art share a love of travel and having moved to Arizona and retired, they now travel several times a year, always stalking galleries and museums to satisfy Nancy’s need.


  Nancy and her husband Art in Greece


Now “AT LAST”, Nancy has the ability to devote her time to her passion – painting. Her love has finally come along –  her wonderful husband and time to paint.


“Painting takes me to a special space of peace and tranquility.  I look at the beauty around me and express that beauty in my own unique manner.  As an abstract artist, I work primarily with acrylics and acrylic textured mediums.  I add movement and life in my paintings through my use of texture and color.  I love using a variety of textures and multiple layers of glazes to give live to my work.” Since moving to Arizona, Nancy has become mesmerized by the colors of the canyons and desert landscape in Arizona. “The landscape takes on so many colors, and never ceases to astonish and surprise me as I strive to translate the feelings that I have into my work. The ocean and beaches provide me with the same inspiration as the desert. The ocean is alive with so many colors and so much movement that the feelings I have when I see the ocean wash over me like a flood of color which I then translate into my work.”


  Rio Red – 20”x24” – Acrylic on canvas



 Nancy’s work invites the viewer to participate in the emotional and intuitive expression of her work.  Picasso once said “There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.”  Nancy starts with an emotion, rather than an ending picture of what she’s painting, based upon the beauty she sees or has experienced in her travels and what remains is a strong visual translation of her feelings of that beauty.


“I am often asked what I see in my work as viewers express what they see. My work invokes an emotional reaction based upon either a feeling or memory of the viewer. Because I am so intimately connected with the painting, I see only color and texture and my own emotion. I rarely see anything within my work. When I paint, I am completely within the right side of my brain, closing out sounds and the environment around me.  I connect with my painting as it progresses.”



When asked what has influenced her work the most, Nancy will tell you that it has been traveling and seeing the colors of the world. And what artist has had the most impact on her work? “Actually, it’s Sandra Neumann Wilderman, a local Phoenix watercolorist. When we relocated here, I took a workshop with Sandra. I struggled with getting the depth of color that I wanted and the texture I love. Sandra suggested that I try acrylics. And so I did and now the rest is history.”    AT LAST- NANCY NOWAK UTECH





Resume of Nancy Nowak Utech


               2003 - Juried Exhibit: Littleton Historical Society

               2003 - Exhibit: Arapahoe Community College

               2006 - ARTMA, Denver, CO

               2008 - ARTMA, Denver, CO

               2014 – ARTMA, Denver, CO

2012 - 100 Years Together – Gilbert Past, Present & Future, Higley Center for the   Performing Arts, Gilbert AZ

2013 - 10th Annual Gilbert Visual Art League Juried Fine Art Show, East Side Art, Apache Junction, AZ

2013 - Arizona Artist Guild Opening Exhibition, Bezalel Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ

2014 – 11th Annual Gilbert Visual Art League Juried Fine Art Show, Gilbert, AZ

2014 – Juried Show and Sale: Queen Creek Olive Mill

2015 - Juried Exhibit: The Nash Jazz Club

2015 – Annual Juried Show and Sale: Gold Canyon, AZ

2015 – Annual Juried Show and Sale: Phoenix Festival of the Arts; Award Winner

2015 – Juried Show and Sale (3): Queen Creek Olive Mill

2016 – Annual Juried Show and Sale: Gold Canyon, AZ

2016 - Juried Show and Sale: Queen Creek Olive Mill

2016 – Annual Pikes Peak Show and Sale: Colorado Springs, CO

2016   Tortoise Project, Fund raiser for the Vision Kidz Program, Vision Gallery & Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler, AZ

2016 – Juried Show and Sale: Art on the Veranda, Maricopa AZ

2016 -  Juried Show and Sale: Pike’s Peak Art and Music Festival, Colorado Springs, CO

2016 -  Juried Festival and Show: Phoenix Festival of the Arts

2016 - Juried Exhibit: CWA Burton Barr Exhibit

2016 - Juried Exhibit: University Club Exhibit

2016 - Juried Exhibit:  ASU Gammage

2017 -  Juried Festival and Show: Gold Canyon Art Festival

2017 - Juried Exhibit: The Herberger

2017 -  Juried Festival and Show: Summerlin, NV Art Festival

2017 - Featured Artist: Fundraiser Wagnalls Memorial, Lithopolis, OH

2018 - Juried Festival and Show: Phoenix Festival of the Arts

2018 - Juried Festival and Show: Gold Canyon Art Festival

2018 - Juried Show: Holland Gallery

2018 - Juried Show: Arizona Art Alliance: Taliesen West Art Exhibit

2018 - Juried Festival and Show: Carefree Art Festival

2018 - Juried Exhibit: Mesa Art League Exhbit: ASU Gammage

2019 - Juried Festival and Show: Gold Canyon Art Festival

2019 - Juried Festival and Show: Carefree Art Festival

2019 - Juried Festival and Show: Scottsdale Art Festival




2002 – Sweet Utopia Gallery, Denver, CO

2017 - Down Time Wine, Phoenix, AZ (2 person show with Sharon Peterson)

2017 - Collectors Only - Private Event, Queen Creek, AZ.



Mr. & Mrs. James Estey – AZ, CO

Ms. Sarah Simmons- CO

Ms. Amy McCracken - AZ

Mrs. Colleen Mattern – ND, AZ

Ms. Donna Riden – Canada

Mr. & Mrs. James Barker – Canada

Ms. Cynthia Schweitzer - UT



Miami University, Oxford, OH – 1969-1971

Arapahoe Community College, Denver, CO – 2001-2003



Park Hill Art, Denver, CO, 1992

Boris Shoshensky, Denver Botanic Gardens, 1993-1995

Botanic Illustration Program, Denver Botanic Gardens, 1995-1997

Color Layering for Colored Pencil, Susan Rubin, Denver Botanic Gardens, 2010

Sandra Neuman Wilderman, Mesa, AZ 2012-2014

Birgit O’Connor, Sedona, AZ 2012

David Drummond, Page, AZ 2012

Jo Toye, Phoenix, AZ 2014

Jan Sitts, Sedona, AZ 2015

Bruce Marion, PHX, 2015

Stan Kurth, PHX, 2015


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