Fort Rucker spouses display artistic talents at festival
Anouk Gunter-Looijen and Chantal Durham-Bogers showcase their artwork featuring Fort Rucker daily life.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Creativity runs through everyone, but for some it is deeper and more refined.

It can be a hobby or lead to greater adventures such as a festival, as it did for the wives of two of Fort Rucker's finest.

Chantal Durham-Bogers, wife of Lt. Benjamin Durham, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, and Anouk Gunter-Looijen, wife of Capt. Cornelius Looijen, 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment, are local artists whose work has led them to showcase their talent in the Piney Woods Arts Festival at Enterprise State Community College March 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and March 27 from noon to 4 p.m.

Looijen will showcase her work in this year's festival as the returning top prize winner from last year.

"If I have a blank piece of paper, I have to fill it up," said Looijen. "I was the youngest of three children and a dreamer. I didn't like school, instead I loved to draw."

Being creative started for Looijen when she painted old dolls and toys in her spare time as a child. She continued to pursue painting through high school.

After high school, Looijen attended a school for creative arts and crafts in Antwerp, Belgium, and the academy of arts in Breda.

"Some teachers told me I should paint, but I was stubborn and I chose graphic design," Looijen said.

After pursuing art in college, she took a 10-year break during her marriage. In 2000, after having her first child, Looijen started painting children's art and murals. This is when she discovered the world of acrylics and canvasses.

In 2006, Looijen gave herself a chance to develop her painting in hopes to one day have her paintings showcased.

"I found it hard to choose a direction, but to think the 'real' Anouk is in the little colorful paintings, children with smiles on their faces captured in their moment of happiness," said Looijen. "It gives me great pleasure to paint and work hard because I can't wait to see the result."

Looijen finds inspiration in her children, the beach and enjoys the whimsical style of painting Aviators, she said.

"Everything inspires me; a book, someone's face, just everything," Looijen said. "My eyes are really tired at night because I look so much."

Bogers has showcased her work in previous festivals and began painting early by starting art classes when she was a child in school, which she continued through high school. After finishing school, Bogers pursued a job, but soon realized she did not have a creative outlet.

Soon after, Bogers picked painting up again and attended oil painting classes. In 2009, she moved from Holland to the U.S. with her husband and continued pursuing her love of painting.

"When I first came to the U.S., I could not work, so I had a large amount of free time," Bogers said. "My love of art put me in touch with other artists in the area and I soon learned about festivals such as the Piney Woods Art Festival."

Since being at Fort Rucker, she has been inspired by her husband's daily life and military surroundings such as helicopters, Bogers said.

Bogers and Looijen said their experience with art and showcasing their work at festivals has brought them joy and the great experiences of meeting new people in the surrounding communities.

"I encourage other Army wives to pick up something creative and not sit around the house by themselves," Bogers said.

Page last updated Thu March 24th, 2011 at 10:34