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Gloria Novak: weaver, painter, photographer

Eileen JoyceWeaver, watercolorist and photographer Gloria Novak stands in front of the studio at her home near Nevada City on Feb. 28.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

If Gloria Novak didn’t have to worry about paying the bills, she would weave all the time.

For the past several years, though, the three looms at her home studio have virtually been ignored.



“It’s terrible not to be born rich,” she said with a laugh Wednesday from her Nevada City-area home. “I miss doing art that takes time, where you have to be totally there mentally and physically. It’s tough. I have no answers to fix that.”




Besides wall tapestries, that art includes watercolors that depict the natural world – perhaps of a flower, a rushing river or clouds.

But Novak is realistic – she likes to pay the bills – so she has worked as a library building consultant for about 30 years. She was also a library space planner for the University of California at Berkeley for 20 years.

She’s spent about 70 hours so far consulting with the Grass Valley library on possible renovations and expansion.

“I haven’t watercolored or weaved on a regular basis since the late 1980s,” Novak said. “I’d like to, but I’ve been so busy working to earn a living, I haven’t had time.”

For the last 10 years, Novak has substituted photography as her artistic outlet.

“Weaving is very complicated. If I don’t keep up the rhythms, it’s harder for me to pick up where I left off,” Novak said. “Photography is so easy. I can go for a walk and take pictures.”

Or she can bring her camera with her on consulting jobs. Novak likes to travel throughout the United States and abroad every year.

A dozen photographs taken in India six years ago will be displayed through the end of April at the Northern Mines Gold Works, 105 Mill St., Grass Valley.

While in India to plan an ashram library two hours from Bombay, Novak spent three weeks sightseeing.

“I thought if I was to plan a library in India, I should become familiar with the climate, the construction techniques, the architecture,” said Novak, who constantly snapped photos during her travels through India.

When the library project was canceled, Novak’s research became a moot point. But she returned from the business trip with 36 rolls of pictures of the people, architecture and sculpture.

“My whole world is visual. Photography is very exciting for me,” she said. “It’s very important for me to be visually creative on a constant basis, even though I don’t have the concentrated time needed to devote to painting or weaving. At least I can fit photography in and get some satisfaction.”

She hasn’t given up on seriously returning to her looms.

“I miss my weaving,” Novak said. “I have these wonderful ideas that I’m dying to work on. If only I had money, then I wouldn’t have to work and I’d have the time I need …”

Call Novak at 478-9608 to see her photos and tapestries.


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