Tuesday, July 27, 2010


5. Susan Gross

It takes an incredible amount of skill and restraint to make simple and elegant images. It takes intelligence and awareness to express the gist of a subject with only a few brush strokes and a great deal of wit and sensitivity. Susan Gross accomplishes this with every assignment she takes on. She also continually challenges herself to explore unknown territory and try things without the foreknowledge that they will work. I have seen her do this with painting, printmaking, and collage. Each new material she tackles prompts a shift in approach, color, and subject matter. Her work is instantly recognizable to my eye. No matter how much she grows and develops as an artist, one thing remains constant, her spirit.

As a professional designer and illustrator she has been working for over 25 years in a field that seems the first to be affected by recessions, is flooded every year with younger artists who seem only too willing to give more for less and sacrifice the value of their work for quick financial gains. She has been imitated, but never very well, and has From Joe Boxer PJ’s to Beringer wine labels to books and Nordstrom products, Susan has created distinctively sophisticated design solutions for a variety of clients including Living on the Edge by Stephen Levine, Heal Your Body A-Z, published by Hay House; Vanilla, published by Chronicle Books; and The Cultured Cocktail; published by Clarkson Potter.

For more information, please visit Susan's website. Also, if you know anyone who is visiting or lives in the Mendocino, CA region, tell them to stop by her and her husband David's Art Barn.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


4. Frances Jetter

Frances Jetter is an artist whose work faces issues head on and without apology. In her straightforward and symbolic illustrations for The Nation, The Progressive, The New York Times, and several other publications where serious content is involved and in her personal drawings and sculptures, she tackles issues with a directness and personal approach that has been often imitated but never equalled.

Her people inhabit a world that operates as a mirror to society, often reflecting what cannot be seen but is right in front of us. Within her work there are equal parts beauty and tragedy, despots and victims, and always, a sense of humanity.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


3. Jeffrey Smith

Watercolor is a tricky media. It is brutally unforgiving, and often associated with pretty paintings of flowers and children. Few artists have realized the potential of this medium the way that Jeffrey Smith has. His work comes at you from a place that few can enter, and brings with it light, mystery, beauty, mayhem, and a gritty realism that combines understated body language with bold visual statements. There is always more beneath the surface of Smith's pictures, a darkness, a recognizable element that is often hidden behind the warmest smiles. Not to say that all of his work is dark, but that when he enters the darkness, he brings to light truths about the human condition.

I had the good fortune to meet Smith several years ago and speak with him for a short time. He was honest, straightforward and candid. His pictures are always intelligent, and always evoke from me an emotional response as well as make me think about the subject matter he has tackled.