‘Book of the World’ highlights artist’s experiences abroad

Library exhibit displays work from local artist’s 17 years of traveling

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling



Subject matter ranges from rocks to self-portraits and uses different mediums, like books, watercolor and acrylic paintings.

Local artist Jean Accola said she used what she saw to express herself in her latest exhibit.

At the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in downtown Eau Claire, Accola’s art exhibit entitled “Book of the World” conveys the artist’s experience abroad ranging from Africa to Asia through her paintings and mixed media works.

Accola began traveling abroad 17 years ago and has gone on annual trips since then, ranging from lengths of three to nine weeks with her husband Yata Accola. Their shortest trip was to Spain in 2011.

“That is why I paint too,” Accola said. “To show other people how I see the world.”

The artist has been running a gallery in Durand for 30 years and because it is her business, she said it keeps her from painting. Therefore, every winter, she and her husband go on trips, sometimes for as long as two months.

Being an artistic family, Accola’s husband Yata is a musician, and while they spent time in the different countries, they also toured cities, went to shows and tried new activities like sailing in Spain.

Many of the works on display are paintings, although some selections are books, all created by Accola. She included a few sketchbooks in the collection as well as different fold-up books of the art, displaying them on tables and in a case at the center of the exhibit. She plans on publishing a book entitled “Book of the World,” which will include art, blog entries and recipes from her adventures.

“To me, the food of a culture is one of the key elements of any culture,” Accola said.

Among their travels, Accola said she enjoyed the Laos culture the most because it is like a polar opposite from the United States. The fusion of the French influence along with the Laos way of life was fascinating to her, giving her another perspective for the art.

Traveling with art supplies was a challenge for the Durand-based artist, because it is similar to musical instruments: You can bring them if the airline allows them onboard. When Accola went to Laos, she took along her sketchbook because of the amount of art supplies she had at the time and she bought some paper along the way to work with.

Accola has worked with art her whole adult life and opened her gallery in 1985, showing and selling art. She also has coordinated Go Paint!, an event at the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center getting painters of all levels together to paint in different settings.

Melany Bartig, library associate at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, said the library makes a call for artists in order to have an exhibit. Then, the art committee decides which artist would fit the best in the library and sends out an invitation and begins the curating process.

The exhibit opened last week, runs until May 27 and is shown in the gallery space on the second floor of the library. Some singular pieces ornament other areas within the library as well.

In addition, Accola has recipes and posts that can be found on her blog.

“Book of the World” is free to the public and the art is available for purchase. The library is open every day, from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and from 1-5 p.m. Sunday.