PITTSBURG — Perhaps it was the years spent in Scotland when she was a child, or her mother’s artistic ability, but wherever the inspiration started, Pittsburg artist Jenna Spencer is gaining attention with her work.
Most residents of Pittsburg have seen Spencer’s work, even before her most recent large scale mural on the side of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce. As a member of the SEK Art Fest, she has created many public works.
However, locals may not realize that behind those pieces are a long term love affair with her community.
“I love being here,” Spencer said “Pittsburg is a great place for artists, and I really want people to see that.”
Spencer was born and raised in Pittsburg, with the exception of a small amount of her early childhood when she lived in Scotland — at four — is where she began her journey as an artist.
“I remember winning a drawing contest when I was four,” she said. “So you could say I started young.”
Spencer and her family returned to Pittsburg when she was seven, where she continued to draw throughout her teenage years. In her early adulthood she moved mediums concentrating on ceramics, then woodworking, taking classes at Pittsburg State University for wood technology.
“I was the only girl in the class and the only artist,” Spencer said. “It didn’t matter, I really enjoyed what I was learning.”
Spencer moved away for a short time, but returned to Pittsburg to raise her daughter.
“I knew that this was where I wanted her to grow up. It's a good place,” she said. “I love this community, and I wanted that for her as well.” Spencer said.
She continued to live and work in the area while she experimented with photography as an artform, eventually returning to PSU for a degree in fine arts. Following her graduation, she accepted a job as the office manager and gallery director at Memorial Auditorium. She also discovered a love of painting.
“I always knew I could paint, I just never did,” Spencer said “I did some street scenes that I really liked, and things just grew from there.”
A few of Spencer’s large scale works are in the auditorium. A mural of drama faces decorates the green room and a future mural will grace the side of the building.
Spencer has also worked closely with the SEK Art Fest, where she is now a board member. She has created a coal bucket, football, and four farm animals for the nonprofit to auction off. She also has a mural in the First Baptist Church and another in progress at a bar and grill in Girard.
Her most recent mural — the Welcome to Pittsburg artwork that graces the walls of the chamber of commerce — is a special one for Spencer.
“I really wanted people coming into town to see that and think, this is a place that welcomes artists,” she said. “This is a place that supports local art, and they want to show it.”