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Artist of the Month - June 2005

The Spirit of an Artist
By Ann Stewart

“At a young age, I chose to look at the world in artistic ways. I gave myself no limits,” says Robin Zank. Thus her life has been filled with art and creativity. Robin paints, sews, does mosaics, quilts, and bakes – among many other things.

Growing up in Texas, she credits her mother for raising four creative daughters. Art runs in the family going clear back to Robin’s grandmother who began painting at age 80. By the time Robin was 14, she was constructing and designing clothing. By the time she was out of high school, she was creating garments for local rock bands and boutiques. “Abbie Hoffman bought one of my flag shirts!” she laughs. In the early 1970’s Robin was living in New England where she was influenced by classic folk and historic garments. She began to learn hand dying and batik. When she moved to rural Marin County, California in the early 1980’s, she “found my designs taking on an Asian influence.’” Later she became interested in Native American clothing. She spent almost one year creating the Lakota wedding dress and learning the art of bead looming. She moved to Moab in the late ‘90’s and began to “refine my skills in printing and patch working.”

Robin is the manager/owner of the Knave of Hearts Bakery in Moab. Her expert baking has brought her a loyal clientele. Breads, buns, desserts and other treats express her artistic talents. She is busy eighteen hours a day running the bakery, yet she has time to continue working in textiles, her favorite medium.

In her upstairs apartment, Robin has a huge collection of textiles in many colors and textures. She is always on the look-out for fabric pieces and unique buttons. She has over 200,000 buttons which she uses to decorate her creations. Her interest in buttons began many years ago when she and her sisters sold their church’s left-over kool aide for a button or a safety pin.

One of Robin’s quilts hangs on a wall in the bakery. It is a free-lance work of art, a one of a kind creation with a clever teapot in each large square and hundreds of different complimentary fabrics and buttons adorning the grids. Her baby quilts, which she hand designs and makes for her friends and relatives, are unique and personalized. “I must have made at least one hundred quilts in my lifetime so far,” Robin says. Though she sometimes sells her work, she usually does her art forms for relaxation and for the fun of creating.

Robin’s sense of fun shines through in all she does. On a baby quilt, I spy a small Elvis Presley tucked among the dragons and butterflies. Her old bicycle is decorated with beads and tassels. Outside in the garden are whimsical mosaics. She says her son had the best Halloween costumes in town.

“Wearable art” is what Robin calls the beautiful Renaissance-style jackets which hang on a rack in the bakery. She likes traditional folk clothing which is never out of style. These one of a kind jackets reflect her art with both fabrics and paints and are reasonably priced. One gets the sense, however, that Robin’s primary purpose is not to make money because Robin sees her whole life as art.

“If you approach life in a creative way, it uplifts both you and others.” In that sense Robin has contributed her artistic knowledge to the Moab community in many ways. In the past she has done period-piece fashion shows for the MARC. She sometimes mentors young artists, and regularly hosts the local Artist Alliance Group which meets at the Knave of Hearts Bakery at 11:00 am Wednesdays. The group also has pot lucks at the Senior Center and welcomes new members. Robin appreciates the work of the many non-profit groups in town. She is currently the Vice President of the Board of Wabi Sabi.

She believes living in the Canyonlands and Moab inspires creativity in its citizens. It certainly does for Robin Zank who is talented and quick to share.

Robin’s work can be seen at the Knave of Hearts Bakery, located at 84 West 200 North. Robin can be reached at 259-4116.

Tell her you read about it in Moab Happenings!



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