Although Holly Markhoff grew up in a family that expressed themselves artistically, it took a while for her to become the painter she felt in her heart she could be. “I always saw that the arts were something that you loved and did but not as a career,” she says. She majored in psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, became a mental health counselor, taught Judaic studies and pre-school before recognizing she could be a professional artist. A seed was planted when her now husband invited her to Arts Around the Lake (a defunct art show that was held annually at University of Richmond) for their first date. While walking around looking at the exhibits, Markhoff was inspired. She says, “I thought, ‘One day I’m going to be here.’ ”
The Art Of Holding Hands, Mixed Media, 36x24, $2800
Over a decade later, Markhoff was deciding between pursuing painting professionally or going back to graduate school. She applied for a space at Arts Around the Lake, was accepted and sold all of the paintings she exhibited there. Encouraged, she started applying to other shows and then to CAC. “Getting into Crossroads was a huge confidence booster for me,” she says.
When asked about the appeal of her pieces to viewers, Markhoff explains, “I try to be thoughtful or joyful in my painting. I know that there is place in the art world for emotional or political paintings but I want my paintings to be thought provoking in a positive way. The subjects are connecting with something that will uplift the viewer. I want the painting to be a positive spot on someone’s wall.”
Outside of painting Markhoff has a passion for old books, particularly with the theme of women and women’s studies. “I like books from the pre-1900’s and early 1900’s about how to be a good wife or women’s place in society,” she says. “I am really interested in how we [as a society] evolved to where we are and how we look at the world so differently.”
Perhaps the evolution she appreciates in her books mirrors the evolution she has experienced with her art- growing from decorative to positively powerful.