Gina Papen was born and raised in San Francisco, in June l946. At age three, she was enrolled in Potrero Hill Nursery School, where the program for arts was guided by Rhoda Kellogg, a professor at Stanford University. Her belief was that all children go through the same developmental stages of drawing, and used the nursery school as a laboratory for her theories. As a result, finger painting, easel painting and clay were part of the daily activity schedule.
Gina was encouraged to draw at home by her family, as well as in school. She took part in Saturday children’s classes at the Graphic Arts Workshop in North Beach, taught by Irving Fromer. In junior high school, her teacher, Jean Thompson, taught her the fundamentals of gesture and contour drawing,as well as brush lettering, calligraphy and copper enameling. After high school she attended SF City College and SF State College.
In 1966 Gina moved to Portland, Oregon, where she became an artist’s model at the Portland Art Museum School, and Portland State University. She took several classes in printmaking, ceramics and drawing. At this time, Paul Bassett and Gina formed the Air Sign Company, and did 5 or 6 posters for rock dances. The posters were featured as the first rock art by women artists in the northwest, and cataloged in a show from Tether Gallery, in Seattle, from August 2010.
After a year and a half in Portland, she was able to travel to Europe for 10 months. After that trip, she decided to “get serious” with her art, and attended CCAC in Oakland for the foundation year in 1971-2. Gina then moved to New York where she finished her BFA at Parsons School of Design as a general illustration major. She worked for one year as a textile design artist in Manhattan, and then did various graphics jobs, until moving the northeast Connecticut in 1979.
In l984 she opened “Gina Papen Art & Design” studio, where she did graphics, signs, calligraphy, taught art after school to children, did commission house and business portraits in ink and watercolor, and developed her own body of work, from taking classes at the Worcester Art Museum with Sally Bishop. Her styles of working ranged from watercolor renderings of quilts and flowers to wild abstract paintings, which were exercises to “push past realism” and to express her inner feelings as a maturing artist.
When Gina returned to Berkeley, her first “art” related job was at Stained Glass Garden, where she was able to take classes in mosaics, stained glass, and fused glass. She really loved making jewelry with the fused glass and also took classes at Studio One.
With Paula Powers, she has done painting workshops exploring process painting and spontaneous expressions using interior visual and dream images.
Gina continues to do original collages and paintings and has exhibited in Group Shows at ACCI in Berkeley over the past seven years.