Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

Re-Purposed Art by Aimee Had

Posted on June 5, 2016
Filed Under Featured Artists

With a style all her own, Aimee Had of Truckee, uses her art to express her values which is emblematic of her tight knit mountain community.

Like the pioneers of expressionism, Van Gogh, Edvard Munch and Manet, Aimee’s paintings deliberately distort our world in order to obtain an emotional effect that vividly transmits our imagination and mood.

Aimee dares to explore themes of over abundance and the resulting waste.  With a blend of satire and whimsy, her Hobbit Houses and Flower Power paintings are designed to wake us from our stupor to a new way of living.

With values stemming from community, Aimee’s artwork presents a world more in harmony with nature, with the hope of resurrecting awareness of what unites us with one another and nature. Through each of her paintings and re-purposed jewelry, Aimee aspires to present a different option for the American Dream, starting with her mountain hamlet.

Aimee grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina where she started to cultivate her purpose-built art career at any early age.  In order to raise money to join her 10th grade class on a ski trip to Utah, she started making jewelry out of discarded items she found around the house. Soon Aimee was selling earrings and necklaces made out of beer can tabs (remember), and broken bits of her brother’s old vinyl records which she painted with vibrant colors. She raised enough money to pay for that life changing ski trip which stoked her passion for art and skiing.

At 18 she headed to Colorado where she majored in Art while studying geology and German before she moved to Crested Butte to ski.  Then one winter she met a pack of Lake Tahoe skiers who descended on CB with a fury. Tales of Tahoe ignited Aimee’s desire to move to Truckee where she had passed through five years earlier on a road trip.

Ten years ago she transplanted to Truckee where she fell in love with the historic Sierra Nevada mountain town, entrepreneurs, burgeoning art scene and a mountain culture firmly rooted and committed to preserving its eclectic pioneer spirit.

She found her new home, a comfortable place where she could pursue her painting.  As with many locals, Aimee juggled odd jobs to pay the bills while painting homes and some murals.

An animal lover, one day while watching a white lab swimming at Donner Lake she headed back home and painted her first animal she called “Otis Shaking”.  It sold and she was soon commissioned to paint pets.

Then in 2004 she realized, “I was in a trap.”  She couldn’t continue to wait tables and landscape forever, and “try to paint.” She had to get serious.

Aimee knew she had to immerse herself in her painting to not only define her style, but to find herself.  Pursuing her dream of being an artist, she traveled back across the country to Ocracoke Island off the coast of North Carolina where she lived in a tent along with her faithful companion, BB. It was a transformational summer for both.  Like Van Gogh, who painted 70 paintings the last 70 days of his life, Aimee was driven to paint.

Absorbed in the community with history dating back to the 1600s, Aimee dove into plein air painting capturing the everyday moments of the 700 inhabitants, many who watched over her shoulder as she caught the emotional effect of boats in the harbor, starry nights and windswept grass, and of course, pets.  Every single painting she created she sold. While Aimee became more confident with her obvious talent supported by the response of the islanders, so did BB who matured into an obedient black lab.  By the end of August, after five months, she and BB headed back to Truckee.

Touched forever by the openness and generosity of another small community on the eastern seaboard, Aimee embarked on a series of whimsical paintings that portray the emotional experience of living in today’s world rather than the physical reality, with the purpose to call us back to nature and the wonderment of a simpler life.

In addition to her painting, Aimee continues to make jewelry, but this time around she uses recycled and discarded industrial scraps found at job sites.  Called Debris Jewelry, Aimee takes end cuts from discarded copper and steel tubes and pounds them into jewelry, or she adds them to her mixed media pieces and oil paintings for texture and context that further connects her art to historic Truckee.

To see Aimee’s portfolio of re-purposed jewelry and oil paintings, please visit her online store at  And, while you’re in Truckee you can find her paintings and jewelry at Riverside Studios, Scraps Dog Bakery, Truckee Community Recreation Center, and the Truckee-Donner Veterinarian Hospital.

So what’s next for Aimee?

She recently completed a large mural that wraps around the outside of Truckee-Donner Veterinarian Hospital customized with her signature whimsical and cartoon-style that will undoubtedly leave an indelible impression on everyone and the North Tahoe and Truckee art scene.

Learn more about Aimee at
We live in a special place. A place so beautiful it nurtures the soul and creative spirit. A place so breathtaking it inspires conservation. A mountain culture that masters the fine art of living. Welcome to this place we call home. Welcome to Lake Tahoe. Meet the local artists, individuals, businesses and events that define our unique mountain culture and embody Tahoe's creative and entrepreneurial spirit.
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