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Describing her style as painterly realism, Terry Pappas has spent decades evolving her artistic repertoire—starting with portraits of her children, moving on to moody still lifes and finally landing on what most consider her signature, landscapes. Working masterfully with oils and pastels, she captures light, texture and dimension with photographic perfection. (Perhaps this precision can be attributed to her career as a physician.) Her works are staples at Elliott Fouts Gallery and part of the permanent collection at Embassy Suites downtown, UC Davis Medical Center, Kaiser hospitals and clinics and Westfield Galleria at Roseville. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Queen Rania of Jordan and Sen. Dianne Feinstein all own Pappas’ paintings.
“ My favorite still life. It has images of art by Bonnard, Cezanne, Thiebaud, a Japanese print and a remnant of her destroyed painting. Again, it’s about continuum.”
What is the first piece of art you ever bought?
My first piece of art was purchased with my first paycheck in 1976. It is a lithograph from 1848 by David Roberts found at antique shop on Maiden Lane in San Francisco. It was a thank-you gift to my parents for sponsoring my education. It has an intriguing composition of two colossal statues at Memnon, Egypt, facing a sunset. It now hangs over our mantle and continues to move me.
Which local artists excite you the most?
Both Gregory Kondos and Wayne Thiebaud are to be admired for the longevity of pursuing their passion. They are great role models as we ride through this short cycle of life.
Why do you love collecting art?
Collecting art serves many functions, not just for the enjoyment of hanging a work you love in your home. I’ll never forget the experience of the first stranger—not a friend or family member!—buying one of my paintings. Since then, I like to buy works from young artists to pay that feeling forward, as it is such a precarious career.
How do you decide where to place your art?
It’s difficult if you have limited space and want to give them breathing room, so I need to rotate them. I hang them where it pleases my eye.
Why do you gravitate toward self-portraits?
The works that I’m drawn to contain anima, or a genuine spirit or soul of the artist. It’s most evident in self-portraits, and I guess that’s why I collect them. My collection includes a shirtless Boyd Gavin, Fred Dalkey with a Rembrandtlike gaze, and a topless Ellen Dillinger. I originally hung them in our bedroom, but after some time, my patient husband asked me to please hang them elsewhere, as he wanted his privacy back.