Jenny Wantuch

Sound of Water

Sound of Water Exhibition Review by DeWitt Cheng

The landscape paintings of Jenny ML Wantuch are quiet evocations of place that derive from Impressionism, Fauvism and Abstract Expressionism. Her work continues the Bay Area Figurative tradition, which synthesized traditional subject matter—figures, landscapes, still life’ —with painterly impulse and improvisation. In addition, her paintings lack of the self-conscious irony that characterizes so much contemporary art; possibly the isolation imposed on us by the pandemic will lead to a new appreciation for seriousness and sincerity, too long out of fashion for some.

Wantuch grew up in rural Sweden, and worked in California as an environmental engineer before deciding to pursue her longtime love of art. She has thus has a deep appreciation of nature. She takes hikes and paints both small works on panel on location, and larger works, later, in the studio. The twenty-two paintings that comprise “Sound of Water” (named after the largest work in the show) depict northern California, primarily, with the exception of a pair of casein paintings—in the tall, vertical format of Japanese scroll paintings—depicting Monet’s Garden at Giverny, the result of a 2019 pilgrimage to that living shrine after Wantuch saw the San Francisco retrospective of the Impressionist’s work at the de Young Museum. The vertical format, a departure from Monet’s panoramic “Water Lilies,” was a compositional challenge to which she rose. The two paintings, which can be appreciated either together, as a diptych, or as separate works, depict a waterscape of lily pads, willow leaves, rushes, and a reflected blue sky dappled by clouds: the floating natural paradise.

Wantuch employs the Asian scroll format on her oil-on-panel and casein-on-clayboard depictions of scenes closer to home, as well. Pond Reflections another double painting, is similar in its motifs, but more spatially complex, with its overlapping foliage; and more visually dynamic, with its profusion of verdure. The single paintings, Pine Tree and Weeping Willow   and Red Blooms  depict slices of nature, usually so unruly, transformed by an organizing intelligence. Nocturnal with its single white flower glowing in the dusk, points up Wantuch’s increasing interest in the psychological or symbolic aspect of the landscape, sometimes empty, and sometimes populated by figures imported from life-drawing sessions, a separate body of work until now.

The self-enforced isolation imposed on everyone nowadays has affected Wantuch’s practice. The colorful evocations of the natural landscape in daylight that she is known for are represented here by two Lake Tahoe paintings, as well as Silver Sage (Tahoe) and Trinity River.  But these cheering views of the unspoiled natural world are joined by more introspective works, infused with the concerns of the moment: sunny Impressionism darkening slightly into crepuscular or nocturnal Symbolism, perhaps.

Wantuch has always been interested in capturing the emotion of a posing model, or at least the implicit emotion; now she employs the observational skills of an artist and a scientist to reflect the cultural, historical and environmental moment. In an e-mail, she wrote: “Munch is one of my favorite painters. His authenticity and the difficult emotions that he expressed so well inspire me to be more open, honest and bold. … [T]here is a melancholy that I empathize with and I think part of it comes from growing up in Sweden (or Norway, in Munch’s case); long, dark winters do that to you.”

If Wantuch’s humanized nature imagery is not quite Edvard Munch’s anguished scream passing throughout Nature, the inward mood of some recent paintings seems to agree with our current feelings of uncertainty. Last Light Trinity River depicts the “final fleeting moment” before a “small sliver of light” is swallowed up by encroaching night. The golden ripple on the water in the eponymic Sound of Water might similarly denote the transience of the world as we know it—and even of our exceptional, American selves; while the framed or wreath-circled void in Weeping Willow rearranges the motifs of the Monet-inspired diptychs to suggest baroque gilded frames delineating a void: emptiness or potentiality? Wantuch notes that she was thinking of Zen Buddhism’s “balance of dark and light, yin and yang. I think it is a kind of escape or rest.”

The longing for a return to normalcy appears in several paintings of figures in the landscape, which, a motif in the existentially inflected Bay Area Figuration of Diebenkorn, Oliveira, Park and Bischoff. Solstice Dream inspired by the artist’s memories of enjoying long summer days above the Arctic Circle, depicts a long-haired nude, almost an allegorical emanation of the sunny meadow in which she luxuriates. A Moment in the Sun depicts another nude in nature, caught between, “lethargy and lonely emptiness” and “longing for freedom and connection.”

An art-historical anecdote comes to mind. Georges Rouault and Henri Matisse, his onetime student, were once asked if artists required an audience. Rouault, the religious expressionist, said he would do what he was doing out of internal necessity, or compulsion, even in nobody ever saw his work. Matisse, the creator of pictorial beauty—of restful, refreshing armchairs for tired businessmen—said an artist must be able to share his vision. Wantuch’s landscapes share both Rouault’s determined work ethic and Matisse’s generous grace.
– DeWitt Cheng July 13, 2020

BIO

During her childhood in Sweden, Jenny spent her summers at the family farm where she learned to be creative. In 2004, Jenny decided to become a full time artist and commit to her childhood dream.

            Jenny M.L. Wantuch (artist signature JMLW) is an oil painter with a focus on urban and rural landscapes. Inspired by the complexity and beauty of life and nature and her own imagination, she enjoys exploring and her inner and outer world.  In her art, she seeks to find visual harmony and yet allowing a dynamic movement. Her goal is to create a strong visual impact by using contrasting elements and visually balance the composition using her gift for design and color.

Jenny was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden. For many of her family members, self-expression was a natural part of life; whether playing a musical instrument, crafts, writing, storytelling, or painting. From an early age, she loved to draw, paint and create stories. Her family has for generations worked as farmers, and since the 1600’s lived in the area around Uppsala. During her childhood in Sweden, Jenny spent most of her summers at the farm. She developed a deep interest and appreciation for the beauty of nature. She learned to be creative, a necessity in a time and place when there was only one TV-channel. Early influences were her grandfather, a storyteller and draftsman, her aunt, a portrait sculptor and painter, and both her grandmothers whose talents for various crafts seemed to be endless.

Jenny moved to Northern California in 2001. When starting her master’s degree at UC Berkeley in Environmental Engineering in 2004, Jenny rediscovered her interest in visual arts, and decided to make a career change and commit to her childhood dream to become an artist. She has studied drawing, figure drawing and painting, as well as design, color theory and art history. Jenny holds a certificate in Multimedia Art & Technology from Cañada College in Redwood City, California.

Jenny is a full time artist, working from her studio at Hunters Point Shipyards She has received outstanding acknowledgement from European artist Olle Bonniér. In 2009, Jenny has showed over 40 pieces of artwork in three solo shows in Stockholm, Sweden, Burlingame and San Francisco, California. Her work has private collectors in USAand in Europe.

CV
EXHIBITIONS

 

MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS
2014 Statewide Photography Exhibition/Competition, Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, California
(Juror: Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator, Triton Museum of Art)

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2020 Sound of Water, Avenue 12 Gallery, San Francisco, California
2019 Water Stories, Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley, California
2019 Paintings by Jenny Wantuch, Cafe Borrone, Menlo Park, California
2019 Pond Reflections, San Francisco Zen Center, San Francisco, California
2013 Ice Flowers, ArtTerra, San Francisco, California
2009-2010 Spelrum-Leeway- Non-Objective Art On a Theme of Free Play, Nectar, San Francisco
2009-2010 Ljuskälla- Swedish Landscapes On a Theme of Fall, Nectar, Burlingame, California
2009-2010 Ljuskälla- Swedish Landscapes & Still Lifes, Glasbrukets Galleri & Cafe, Stockholm, Sweden

 

TWO PERSON EXHIBITION
2018 Landscape Paintings by Victoria Veedell & Jenny Wantuch, Grey City Gallery & Ashcroft Studio, San Francisco, CA
2014 Jenny M.L. Wantuch & Minai Jeswani, Community Gallery, Hall of Justice, Redwood City, California

 

JURIED EXHIBITIONS
2019 Along the Ohlone Portola Trail, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA (juror: Denny Holland)
2018 50|50, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA (juror: Andres Guerrero)
2018 Bay Area Masters, San Mateo County Fairgrounts/Fine Arts Galleria, San Mateo, CA (juror: Andra Norris and Janet Martin)
2018 Dream, Arc Gallery & Studios, San Francisco, CA (juror: James Bacchi) (catalogue)
2018 Abstraction, Pacific Art League, Palo Alto, California (juror: Michael Azgour)
2018 Road Maps, Annual Juried Show, Gallery Route One, Point Reyes Station, CA (juror: DeWitt Cheng)
2017 Beginnings, Annual Juried Show, Gallery Route One, Point Reyes, CA (juror: Chester Arnold, Artist)
2011 Somania, Arc Studios & Gallery, San Francisco, California
2011 San Francisco & Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Travel (previously SFCVB)
2011 26th Annual Juried Show, Gallery Route One, Point Reyes, California (Juror: Rene de Guzman, Senior Curator, Oakland Museum, Oakland CA)

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2020 Virtual Windows, Avenue 12 Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2020 Women Rising, The Drawing Room Annex, San Francisco, CA
2020 Women’s View, Caldwell Gallery, Redwood City, CA
2020 Where the Journey Takes Us, Featuring Composition 4, Gualala Arts Center, Gualala, CA
2020 20-20 Vision, Far Out Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2019 Tiny, STUDIO Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2019 Nordic Light, Think Round Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2019 48 Pillars, Arc Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2019 Movers & Shakers, The Drawing Room, San Francisco, CA
2019 Annual Members Exhibition, Pacific Art League, Palo Alto, CA
2018 Holiday Small Works Show, Art and Heart Gallery, Spring Lake, New Jersey
2018 Tiny, STUDIO Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2018 97th Anniversary Exhibition, Pacific Art League, Palo Alto, California
2018 Illuminate, Heron Arts, San Francisco, California
2018 Nordic Voyage: A Sense of Place, Harrington Gallery, Firehouse Art Center, Pleasanton, California
2018 The Color Red, Jingletown Studios, Oakland, California
2018 SNAP, Arc Gallery & Studios, San Francisco, California
2017 Retrospective 10, Inclusions Gallery, San Francisco, California
2017 Runes Revealed, Adobe Art Center, Castro Valley, California
2017 SF Fall Open Studios, Hunters Point Shipyards, San Francisco, CA
2017 Open Air, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA
2017 By the Bay…Our San Francisco, Back to the Picture, San Francisco, CA
2017 Vistas: Urban & Rural, Inclusions Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2017 Colors of the Mission, StarCity, San Francisco, CA curated by Artlyowl
2017 Spring Open Studios, Hunters Point Shipyards Studios, San Francisco, California
2017 Local Terrain, San Ramon Valley Conference Center, SLATE art consulting, Oakland, CA
2016 Holiday Show, Hunters Point Shipyard Studios, San Francisco, CA
2016 Insights & Reflections, Open Studio Hub, Laughing Monk Brewery, San Francisco
2016 Runes Revealed, Scandinavian Cultural Center, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA (catalogue)
2016 Spring Open Studios, Hunters Point Shipyards, San Francisco
2015 SF Fall Open Studios, Hunters Point Shipyards, San Francisco
2015 Runes Revealed, San Pablo Art Gallery, San Pablo, California (catalogue)
2015 Spring Open Studios, Invited Guest Artist at Claremont Studios, San Mateo, California
2015 Spring Open Studios, Hunters Point Shipyard Artists, San Francisco
2015 SF Fall Open Studios, Hunters Point Shipyards, San Francisco
2014 Runes Revealed, Nordic 5 Arts’ Group Show, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA (catalogue)
2014 Spring Open Studios, Hunters Point Shipyard Artists, San Francisco
2014 Women’s View, Caldwell Gallery, Redwood City, California
2013 SF Fall Open Studios, Misho Gallery, San Francisco
2013 Forward, Misho Gallery, San Francisco
2013 Spring Into Art-Spring Open Studios, Hunters Point Shipyards, San Francisco
2012 SF Fall Open Studios, SOMA Artists Studios, San Francisco, California
2012 SOMA Spring Open Studios, SOMA Artists Studios, San Francisco
2011 Three Artists Show, Piersons Modern, San Mateo, California
2011 SF Fall Open Studis, SOMA Artists Studios, San Francisco, California
2011 Terrain-Views of California, Studio Gallery, San Francisco
2011 SOMA Spring Open Studios, SOMA Artists Studios, San Francisco
2010 SF Fall Open Studios, Jellyfish Gallery, San Francisco, California
2010 SF Fall Open Studios, SOMA Artists Studios, San Francisco, California
2010 SOMA Spring Open Studios, SOMA Artists Studios, San Francisco,
2007 Mission Open Studios, Art Explosion Studios, San Francisco, California

 

BENEFIT AUCTIONS
2020 Dart for Art, San Mateo Event Center, San Mateo, California
2019 Art Auction to Benefit the Artists #4, Incline Gallery, San Francisco, California
2019 Allowance for Form, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, California
2019 ArtSpan Benefit Art Auction , SOMArts, San Francisco, California
2019 Dart for Art, San Mateo Event Center, San Mateo, California
2018 Art for AIDS, City View at Metreon, San Francisco, California (juried show)
2018 ArtSpan Benefit Art Auction , SOMArts, San Francisco, California
2018 Dart for Art, San Mateo Event Center, San Mateo, California
2017 Art for Aids, City View at Metreon, San Francisco, California (Juried Show)
2017 Dart for Art, San Mateo Event Center, San Mateo, California
2017 Artspan’s Art Bridge Benefit Auction, Juried Show, SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco, CA
2010 Pazapa Art Auction, Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
2010 Artspan’s Annual Benefit Art Show & Auction, Juried Show, San Francisco, CA

 

EDUCATION

 

2013 Certificate, Multimedia Art & Technology, Cañada College, Redwood City, CA
2010 UC Berkeley Extension, Berkeley, CA (Art Therapy course)
2010 Jim Wilcox, Jackson Hole, WY (Landscape painting workshop)
2009 Academy of Art University, San Francisco, CA (Figure drawing, and still life oil painting courses)
2009 Atelier Stockholm, The Swedish Academy of Realist Art, Stockholm, Sweden (Figure drawing courses)
2009 Noah Buchanan, Santa Cruz, CA (Oil painting private lessons)
2008—2010 Bay Area Classical Artist Atelier, BACAA, Belmont, CA (Figure drawing and painting courses with Ted Seth Jacobs and Jon deMartin)
2005 San Francisco Center for the Book, San Francisco, CA (Bookbinding courses)
2004—2008 College of San Mateo, CA (Art history, color theory, mixed media, drawing, figure drawing, water color and oil painting courses)
1996 Bachelor of Science, Chemistry, Uppsala University, Sweden

 

TEACHING AND PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

 

2019 Exhibition Committee Member Nordic 5 Arts, San Francisco, CA
2018 Registrar for the Spring Open Studio Committee at Hunters Point Shipyard Studios, San Francisco, CA
2017 Group Coordinator for the exhibition “Open Air” at Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA
2013-2018 Organizer and Founder, Burlingame Plein Air Painters, Burlingame, California,
2015-2016 Private lessons in Landscape Painting
2013-2015 Graphic Designer, Freelance

 

AWARDS

 

2020 Artist Award and prize winner for Women’s View, Caldwell Gallery, Redwood City, CA (judge Rory Padeken, curator at San
Jose Museum of Art)
2016 SFOS Artist Not to Miss, Top ten picks by the Jury for San Francisco Open Studio Exhibition 2016
2013 Award for poster design, Arts & Olive Festival, Redwood City, California
2012 Winner of poster competition, Redwood Symphony’s Fall Concert, Redwood City, California

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

“Talk of the Town”, Daily Post, March 13, 2018
“SFOS Exhibition Juror Awards and Top Ten Picks”, Artspan.org, October 2016,
https://www.artspan.org/sfos-exhibition-0
Bonny Zanardi, “Caldwell presents two visions of still life paintings”, The Mercury
News, November 6, 2014, print and online
http://www.mercurynews.com/2014/11/06/bonny-zanardi-caldwell-presents-two-visionsof-
still-life-paintings/
Susan Cohn, “Still Lifes: Two Visions in Redwood City”, The Daily Journal, October 24,
2014, print and online. http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/arts/2014-10-24/museumgotta-
see-um/1776425132122.html
Marc Ellen Hamel, “Runes Revealed”, Catalogue for Nordic 5 Arts Runes Revealed
Exhibit, 2014
Melissa D. Johnston, “The Reader-Visual Storytelling” (Blog “Creative Thresholds”),
May 30, 2013
https://creativethresholds.com/?s=jenny+wantuch&submit.x=3&submit.y=9
Lyme Light Foundation, “Dart for Art 2015”, Catalogue for Dart for Art Exhibition 2015
https://lymelightfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015-DFA-Catalog.pdf
Helene Sobol, “Welcome to our new member”, Nordic 5 arts News brief, Spring 2014
http://www.nordic5arts.com/pages/documents/NEWSBRIEF_SPRING-2014.pdf
Lorna Watt, “Jenny Wantuch at Claremont Art Studios”, exhibition announcement with
photo, Claremont Art Studios, San Mateo, CA, April 23, 2015, http://wp.me/p4Co5O-3z

 

PUBLICATIONS AS AUTHOR

 

“Art at the Dump-Recology San Francisco”, Artbusiness.com, September 21, 2012
http://www.artbusiness.com/1open/092112a.html
“Fishing and Painting in New Zealand”, Nordic 5 Arts Newsbrief, Spring 2015
http://www.nordic5arts.com/pages/documents/NEWSBRIEF_SPRING-2015.pdf
Columnist, Cirkulation, Sweden, 2001

 

MEMBERSHIP

 

2018 NCWCA, San Francisco, California
2018 Pacific Art League, Palo Alto, California
2014 Nordic 5 Arts, San Francisco Bay Area, California
2010 ArtSpan, San Francisco, California

 

Avenue 12 Gallery
1101 Lake Street at 12th Avenue
San Francisco CA 94118
415-750-9955