Karen Irwin Halsey lives in Seattle now, but the 1987 Lake Highlands High School grad will return this month when ArtCentre of Plano features her work in an exhibit called “Make It Real, Make It Rock: Photographs by Karen Irwin Halsey.”
Halsey, who has photographed musicians and bands including Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard and Mike McCready and Austin up-and-comers Ume, says her background as a performing musician and her training in psychology have been primary influences in her photographic style. The musicians featured in this exhibit vary from passionate 6-year-old students to small club warriors to Grammy-winning internationally acclaimed artists.
I asked about her memories of LHHS and how her upbringing here contributed to her art.
“I was heavily involved in the music programs at LH,” she told me. “I played in the Wind Ensemble and Orchestra, and I was a Drum Major for the LHHS Marching Band. I continued to play my horn through college and thereafter, but an injury from a car accident eventually forced me to stop playing. The search for a new artistic outlet after having to let my musical pursuits go was what led me toward photography. Music photography has been the perfect bridge, keeping me connected to what’s always been important to me and giving me the joy of discovering that I could fall head over heels in love with another art form and dedicate myself to it fully.”
Karen visits LH regularly along with her husband, Jack – a longtime resident of Washington State.
“Jack loves Texas BBQ so much that he goes on ‘research tours’ throughout Dallas and the rest of the state. He and his friend, James, have been such great students that they now turn out award-winning BBQ and sauce in Seattle. Thank goodness for them, because Seattle sorely needed some real Texas BBQ.”
Karen has her favorite stops, as well.
“I love to visit White Rock Lake, where I fed the ducks as a child and where my brother, Terry, races sailboats today. Having lived in Seattle for so long, one might guess that I have a thing for coffee, which is true. I really enjoy visiting White Rock Coffee. It’s a great local spot where the friendly neighborhood spirit feels just how I always remember Lake Highlands feeling.”
Karen’s exhibit opens with a reception Sunday, Nov. 15 from 3-5 p.m. at the Courtyard Theater Gallery, 1509 Ave. H in Plano. The show runs through Dec. 12.