Local artist Tailor Pollak looks at me, eyes wide with energy, as she tells a story.

“I was hiking up in Northern California, and there was a giant, beautiful redwood tree. I tried to take a picture of it, but the camera kept spinning and wouldn’t focus. I turned to walk away and I heard a ‘thwack,’ and another ‘thwack.’ All of a sudden my boyfriend screamed ‘run!’ as that very same Redwood tree came crashing down behind us.”

Pollak smiles and warmly grasps my shoulders for emphasis, during the “run” part of her story. I’m at her house, outside in the sun, in her outdoor art studio space, under a pop-up tent. Paint supplies, mannequin body parts, and pieces of wood are stacked all around.


Originally from Chino Valley, Arizona, Pollak studied art at Sierra Nevada College; is part Sioux Native American; and is profoundly spiritual. She is a painter, a sculptor, and a skilled maker of everything her talented hands touch.

Her art is deeply inspired by the connection she feels with the earth, and in particular, trees and their roots, which is why she was so affected by the falling redwood. She’s firm that the earth was conveying a message through that falling redwood tree. And that message is to be told through her alter ego, Dirty Jayde.

“Dirty Jayde lives in a future time, way in the future, in a desolate, toxic world, where many animal and plant species have died. She travels back in time to warn me. She’s the way I tell my story,” said Pollak.

A lover of color, beauty, and the great outdoors, Pollak resembles nothing of Dirty Jayde. But through Pollak’s artistic hand, Dirty Jayde shows us landscapes that describe a world of the future, with subtle toxic layers seeping through bursts of health and humanity.  

Pollak uses art to express her strong care for the earth and her worry about the harm that humankind could do to it. She believes the world can’t become what Dirty Jayde reveals.

A fan of mixed mediums, Pollak’s paintings incorporate images of trees, animals, and sky, along with gravel, dirt, and bitumen. All of her paintings have bitumen mixed in with the paint, to give the canvas texture and irony. Bitumen is an organic, gravel-like ingredient used to make the asphalt we pave over the earth with.

“Artwork is supposed to be about the human-nature connection and that’s what we thrive on, here in the mountains,” says Pollak, stroking her paintbrush. “I like people to engage and touch and feel.”

One of six artists chosen to join Truckee River Winery’s fourth annual Cask As Canvas Showcase, Pollak painted a wine barrel that was auctioned off for charity. Pollak’s wine barrel looks alive, the eyes follow you as you circle it.  Called “Grandfather’s Eyes,” it’s adorned with white aspen trees on a yellow-orange fall-colored background. Pollak donated her barrel’s proceeds to the Tahoe Arts Project, a nonprofit that brings art to children who otherwise wouldn’t experience it. When I asked Pollak why she chose that charity, she quickly exclaimed, “What would I have done without art as a child?”

Pollak has taught painting classes throughout North Lake Tahoe, but she recently started her own series of classes, Paint and Pint, an art class that travels to different restaurants and bars in the area, and aspiring artists can enjoy a painting or crafting session lead by Pollak along with a free first pint.

Paint and Pint classes are $35 each and include all art supplies. To contact Tailor Pollak and join, visit tailorpollakart.weebly.com.


  • Briitni Kern

    After moving to Tahoe to pursue skiing and the freedom of the West, Briitni found true happiness. She is proud to call Tahoe her home and loves hanging out with all her amazing friends. The art column is one of her favorite things to write because of all the interesting and unique people she gets to meet along the way.

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