Spontaneity and improvisation are driving forces in Jeanne Obermeier’s geometric and meditative canvases… quietude for an unsettled time.
Jeanne Obermeier and Wade Smith met in an art class five years ago and have been inseparable since. In August last year they relocated from Minneapolis to San Luis Obispo. In the time since their arrival, they have set up a working studio and began the long process of integrating themselves into the Central Coast art scene. Painting every day is a goal for the couple and it is rare that they don’t achieve it.
Jeanne and Wade were drawn to abstracts from different artistic backgrounds. Jeanne, with a background in music, textile art and sculpture found herself attracted to West Coast Abstract artists of the 50’s and 60’s. Wade, a watercolorist and lithographer, had always appreciated East Coast artists of the same period. Both found themselves students of forms and techniques emerging from the West and East but especially The New York School, a loose-knit organization of artists and supportive critics responsible (in just a few years) for moving the center of world abstract painting from Europe to New York City.
Before moving to the Central Coast, Wade and Jeanne had each developed a following of clients and supporters in the Upper Mid-West and found their annual gallery show a wonderful way to connect with everyone. Each show, for four years running, featured the works of both Jeanne and Wade and typically included between 10 and 12 paintings each.
Many of Jeanne’s paintings employ geometric shapes and lines crossing within multiple layers of color on the canvas. In her words, “I am always striving to be unafraid to change what is, in anticipation of what may emerge.” In many paintings large, bordered sections are finished in action-oriented brushstrokes evoking freshness and light while other canvases appear in softly modulating tones that provide the viewer a contemplative/meditative respite. Her use of tone and chiaroscuro creates depth, stimulates the imagination and tends to pull the viewer into her canvases. In recent paintings Jeanne has begun to move some of her art from having an architectonic appearance to a nuanced use of freer brushstrokes sans geometrics. Since the move to San Luis Obispo Jeanne’s focus has continued to home in on the creation of award winning paintings that build on her particular style. It was recently announced that her painting, Sangre de Cristo, was awarded first place in the 2015 Brushstrokes, “Best of the West Show” at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. Featuring juried work from Washington, Oregon and California, Brushstrokes has been a seminal, West Coast event for both Jeanne and Wade.
Wade’s paintings usually resolve themselves into larger “fields of color” and then depend on combinations of those colors being mixed, pushed and polished on the canvas in a process led mostly by the canvas itself. He says, “Sometimes I feel as if I’m just along for the ride.” The basic technique used to apply paint is a style of dry brushing, which lends a soft, non-linear finish. All of these paintings begin as non-objective efforts but, in most cases, end up being associated with a depiction of earth, sky or water, albeit abstract and mostly ethereal. He works toward creating an artistic balance in all of his paintings and is a proponent of rules-of-contrast and the “push-pull” concepts of Hans Hofmann.
One of Wade’s passions has been a lifetime of sailing in different parts of the world. He easily attributes these remembered experiences and feelings as inspiration for his paintings.
Jeanne Obermeier: jeanneobermeier.com
Wade Smith: wadesmithfineart.com