Hatteberg's People - Debbie Wagner

By: Larry Hatteberg Email
By: Larry Hatteberg Email



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Sunday, June 24, 2012

In artist Debbie Wagner's world, a simple sunrise changed her life.

She is a Bennington, Kan., artist. She and her husband Don own Three Rivers Gallery. But it was a life-altering medical problem that caused her view of life to change, and began a whole new personal journey for this talented woman.

Nearly every morning, you'll find Debbie out on the second floor of her home as the clouds reflect the subtle colors of a day just waking up.

"You'll find that a bride, the first thing that she does in the morning of her wedding day, is she opens up the curtains to see what her sky looks like," Debbie says. "That's the day the sky belongs to her. For me, it belongs to me every day."

Since 2005, she has painted nearly each day's sunrise.

"I'm up early anyway, this is just icing on the beginning of the day," she says.

Her pastel sunrises reflect the new beginning this artist treasures.

"In 2002, I was diagnosed with two pear-sized brain tumors," Debbie says. "After they were removed, now I've always been artistic, but after they were removed, I realized the fragility of life. So, in 2005, I woke up and it was a beautiful, beautiful sunrise and I decided I would try and paint it. So I woke up the next morning and painted the sunrise again, the next morning and the next morning, and pretty soon, a year had passed by."

"I think I am a 'narrative' artist and this is my daily journal, This is my personal daily journal."

"I keep thinking, 'Well, maybe I should move to a more artistic-appreciating state. But then I wouldn't have Kansas to paint."

Now she has people wanting her sunrises because of a special meaning...their wedding day, a birthday, or the day a loved one left for war. In her downtown Bennington gallery, the framed and matted sunrises speak to many.

"It is a true pleasure to know that my personal story merges with someone else's personal story and goes on their wall," Debbie says.

"We do a disservice to our children when we teach them to move to someplace else, because we don't take the time to show them what we have."

Since this story originally ran last year, it has gone viral. There were radio interviews, newspaper stories and Internet coverage. That tended to overwhelm Debbie for a while.

Today, she still paints those sunrises. It's her mission. It is her love. If you'd like to contact Debbie, you'll find all of her contact information below.

Three Rivers Gallery
200 N. Nelson
Bennington, Kansas 67422

Mailing Address:
Three Rivers Gallery
424 N. Lincoln
Bennington, Kansas 67422

(785) 488-8182

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