February 3rd - March 19th 2023
This series of work began in 2014, during a residency at Jentel Artist Residency
located in Banner, Wyoming. The major questions were: “How much of the
landscape form do I need?” and “How much color do I need to express the
landscape light I was seeing?” This led to the realization that when looking off into
the distance, even as the light was changing, so was the moisture in the air; this
was affecting how I perceived the color. From there I felt I was painting air. Hence,
the series “Jentel Air” began. I dropped all references to forms in the landscape and
painted vertical strips of color that reflected what I was seeing during the dawn,
morning, noon, late afternoon, evening, and sunset each day until I left.
Jean Koeller, Generational Memory, at the Dana L. Wiley Gallery
A Review By Gretchen Durst Jacobs
The esteemed landscape painter Jean Koeller turns to an extended exploration of pure abstraction in her latest exhibition, Generational Memory, at the Dana L. Wiley Gallery at Front Street in Dayton (dates). The paintings sing, hum and twinkle. The ideas for the largest section of the show originated from an artist residency at Jentel, Wyoming in 2014 and the work underscores Koeller’s proficiency in color rendering. As in her landscape paintings, her keen eye and precise mixing – nothing out of the tube—are instantly recognizable. Using a palette knife, Koeller creates a variety of small- to medium-scale grids of intense blocks of color.
What she shows us about color includes not only hue, but opacity, temperature, light, time of day, cloud cover, humidity, shade, air quality, and wind. Color is space and light - No. 21 was inspired by Tobermory, Canada, where the light is crystal clear and the angled sun provides a raking light. Meditative turquois blue, acid green, and various earthy green rectangles feel immersed in water, depicting the intense light streaming through clear Lake Huron and reflecting on the watery bottom.
Koeller refers to herself as a landscape painter even though these paintings are devoid of any recognizable landscape form, such as trees, plants, rock or hills. Essentially, she is asking how much information is needed. Koeller states that she “…distilled landscape down to its purest elemental form: horizontal and vertical space. After determining these two elements, my love of color became a third and opened the door for a balance between observation and play.” While Josef Alber’s color theory is a given here, her color expertise also comes from years of painting en plein air. Only a seasoned “lifer” landscape painter, with decades of astutely observing and painting from the landscape, would have this well-honed eye for this color. Concentrated looking reveals things that would otherwise be easily missed – and Koeller doesn’t miss much. Deliberated looking requires a sensitivity and stamina while completely turning oneself over to what is being seen.
Koeller recognizes just how much of a color is necessary. No. 32 shows a charged blue rectangle at the top of the composition, telling us that the sun is out and the greens below are gradually cycling from full sun to partial or dense shade. This also applies to the mauves, pinks and toasty golden browns as they would appear in full or partial shade.
A variation of these grids is reflected in The Weavings section of the exhibition. These works reflect Koeller’s philosophies of use and re-use, examining decisions around what is waste and what has potential for re-purposing. The Weavings make use of the strip of paper trimmed off when cutting off a row of rectangles. In No. 2 the uneven edge where the paint color ends and the paper begins creates a figure/ground reversal. The brushy paint color with irregular edges hints at an organic shape but doesn’t nail it down.
Another section is The Constructions. These paintings were made, according to the artist, “from the center out.” In this way, color, play and improvisation lay the framework for this series giving inventiveness free reign, “…similar to how Joan, my mother, would create her quilts.” In contrast to other work, the uneven geometric edges of the blocks of color are permitted to end more randomly and do not adhere to a hard-edged grid. Each construction takes on a unique form or a shape conveying one integrated color family.
The Interval paintings are visual representations of music theory and sound. As in the experience of synesthesia, the structure and movement of one color to the next resemble notes and musical composition. In No. 35 the intense chartreuse green resonates with a high-pitched note and descending scale of flats and sharps as the viewer moves down the right column. On the left side sits a blackish/blueish/purple hue and the two rectangles below it repeat in value but shift in hue from almost black to deep brooding blue. The column ends with a mid-tone gray and a slightly darker rumbling violet/purple/blue rectangle.
In No. 29 a light lavender rectangle feels like the ascending progression of an inhale - clean and expanding. Then there is a shift to exhale, an emptying out that can be felt with the deeper and grounding green on the left.
Koeller dedicated this exhibition to her mother, Joan. As she studied her mothers’ notebooks, sketches and journals of quilt making, Koeller discovered there were many similarities to how they both approached and solved a creative problem. This knowledge is often only gained through loss. And insight can only be ascertained through time, with the discovery and the sorting of emotions and memory, connecting the dots, or in this case, the blocks of color. These paintings are sensitive and paced, revealing themselves the longer you look.
Joan’s Landscape, Intervals
The interval series is an experiment that came out of a configuration of
intervals of three and five. It’s a musical exercise that I translated into color and
this vertical shape. I am not interested in that literal idea but where it can lead.
Joan’s Landscape, Constructions
This series is a result of play, love of color, and improvising. I set no boundaries and
felt this would be how Joan would create. I had nothing in mind and I just start
cutting and putting the scraps together, working from the center out to its ending.
Joan’s Landscape, Weaving
Sometimes, I return to a no waste or throwaway headspace. The weavings came
out of the Joan series and a concern with what I have and do not have. This makes
me aware that my present lifestyle is informed by a past resonance. How I approach
land management, food, and day-to-day living in now informing my art practice. The
Weavings and the Assemblages are a result of what is left over from the “drawings” I
make to determine the paintings.
Joan’s Landscape, Doorway
The doorway series came out of the studio during the pandemic in 2022. I kept my
door open as I was working and fell in love with the changing light as the days and
nights marched on. I found ways to capture what I was seeing or saw. the scale of
the color determined the size of the finished work.
This series came out of an artist residency at “Jentle” in Wyoming, in 2014. I
distilled landscape down to its purest elemental form: horizontal and vertical space.
After determining these two elements, my love of color became a third and opened
the door for a balance between observation and play. As I was returning to this
series in 2021-22, I unearthed my mother’s notebooks. In the beginning, I perceived
her quilts as domestic landscapes. This included the clothes, pillowcases, towels,
and other day-to-day fabric objects my mother made for me and my siblings. Yet,
reading her notes made me realize how close our abstract thinking is, so I am
compelled to honor her with this series. I used her first name only, it is her identity.
The gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition, Generational Memory. Within this exhibit are different divisions of the same series, Joan’s Landscape. The concept began with the capturing of light upon forms at different moments in time. Later in the process, the revelation of a connection between the artwork of a mother and daughter inspired the artist to continue to explore nature defined by the distillation of shape and a relationship to color.
In finding her mother’s quilting notebook, similarities between their artwork became apparent. Much like landscapes in form and color, the quilting blocks were a way for the artist to continue to connect to her mother. This encouraged the artist to continue to distill the object into its simplest form and to show how light reflecting on those forms in the space at different times, created a responsiveness. The color relationships in a grid format connect us to nature even though they are abstract. The artist has veered in a new direction that emphasizes an impression of the moment, not the passing of time. The result is discovering a connection to our past, our memories and even our own impermanence.
/Users/danawiley/Dropbox/My Mac (Dana’s MacBook Pro)/Downloads/Jean Koeller Introduction .mov
ART TALK IN THE GALLERY
University of Dayton Lifelong Learning Institute and the Dana L. Wiley Gallery present a Special Event:
February 19TH, 1:30- Registration through University of Dayton Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
March 11th, 11am
Open to the public
1987 MFA, Parsons School of Art and Design, New York, NY
1982 BFA, Wright State University, Dayton, OH, Cum Laude
1981 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME
Conversations: An interview series featuring Zeuxis artists and friends. “The Art of Seeing with Jean Koeller and John Benton”, Jane Black, 2020. http://www.zeuxis.us/conversations
Article: Dillon, Pam, “Inside Painting informed by outside,” Dayton Daily News, May 14, 2016, pg. C2, color reproduction.
Interview: Webster, Andrew, “My Favorite Place to Paint; Jean Koeller,” Out Door Painter, September 22, 2015
Article: Dillon, Pam, “Kettering adding works to public sites program”, Dayton Daily News, May 26, 2013, pg D6, color reproduction, painting in progress.
Review: Dillon, Pam, “Jean Koeller’s paintings mix abstraction, nature,” Dayton Daily News, June 13, 2010, pg 10, color reproductions. http://www.daytondailynews.com/entertainment/ohio-theater-arts/jean-koellers-paintings-mix-abstraction-nature-759606.html
Interview: Neoteric Art, “Interview with Jean Koeller,” Neoteric Art, May 23, 2010, color reproductions; http://neotericart.com/2010/05/23/interview-with-jean-koeller/
Review: Yalkut, Jud, Year in Review 2007, “The Year in Visuals, An Art Season Of Ups And Downs,” Dayton City Paper, Dec 2007- Jan 1, 2008, pgs, 6-7, color reproduction.
Review: Yalkut, Jud, “The Magic of Remaking Landscape”, Dayton City Paper, June 20-26, 2007, pg. 6, color reproductions.
Review: Dillion, Pam, “Colors of the Wind” Dayton Daily News, Sunday, June 24, 2007, pg. D18, color reproductions.
Biography: Moore, Connie, “Views along Snider Road”, Springfield News-Sun, May 28, 2007, pg. B4.
Biography: Carr, Eileen, “Jean Koeller,” The Living Arts, Spring 2007, Apr/May/June, pgs. 32-33, color reproductions.
Review: Foster, Erica, “Paintings in the Triangle Gallery represent menopause,” The Clarion, April 4, 2006, pg. 4.
Review: Yalkut, Jud, “Death by Season or War,” Dayton City Paper, April 19-25, 2006, pg. 11, reproduction
Biography: Hargadon, Amanda, “take a break with…Jean Koeller, Painting Life” Campus Report, University of Dayton, Vol. 32. No. 8, April 1, 2005. Pg. 8, reproduction
Merit Award, Dayton Visual Arts Center, Dayton, OH 2002
Best of Show, Rosewood Arts Center, Kettering, OH 2000
First Place, W&J National Painting Show, Olin Fine Arts Gallery, Washington, Penn, 2000
First Place, “2nd Annual MV NatureScapes,” Dayton Museum of Natural History, Dayton, OH 1998
Honorable Mention, “National Small Works,” Schoharie County Arts Council, Cobleskill, NY, 1996
Best of Show, “Piqua Fine Art Exhibition,” Piqua Historical Museum, Piqua, OH 1996
Show Award, “The View,” Rosewood Arts Center, Kettering, OH 1996
Professional Merit Award, “Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition,” Columbus, OH 1995
Siegfried Weng Purchase Award, “45th Annual Mid-States Exhibition, Evansville Museum, Evansville, IN 1992
Sheldon Berg Purchase Award, “Sheldon Berg Exhibition,” Springfield Museum of Arts, Springfield, OH 1990
Herbert J. Mueller Memorial Award, “10th Annual National Small Oil Exhibition,” Wichita Art Association, Wichita, KS, 1990
Bronstein Purchase Award, “42nd Annual Mid-States Art Exhibition,” Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, IN, 1989
First National Bank of Western PA Purchase Award, “Hoyt International Painting and Drawing Show,” Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, New Castle, PA 1989
*For the complete resume for Jean Koeller, please contact the gallery