Oregon-based artist Jenny Gray has us swooning! Her art is showcased throughout the hotel, with several prints located in our guest rooms and numerous oil works featured prominently in our restaurant, Territory. We find Jenny’s work to be exuberant and joyful, yet with depth and complexity. Her work is an essential part of the experience of being at our hotel and we were thrilled to sit down with Jenny for a chat.
Jenny grew-up on a boat in Southern California, raised by her sailboat-racing father. Summers were spent with her artist mother in San Francisco learning to “see” and make art. She moved up the coast to attend San Jose Sate University where she studied graphic design and fine art. After university she moved further up the coast to Oregon and worked as a graphic designer and art director for 15 years. In 2000 Jenny returned to fine art by way of bold abstract paintings. Jenny has had gallery shows in Eugene and Portland, Oregon. She has been accepted into many juried group shows and her work is in private and corporate collections nationally and internationally. Jenny currently resides in Eugene, Oregon.
Featured Artist Jenny Gray
A peek inside the Artist’s studio
Independence Hotel (IH): You mention on your website, “I explore my personal experiences and our inherently flawed and imperfect human condition in my work.” Could you elaborate on that?
Jenny Gray (JG): I am always interested in people’s stories, I see loss and sorrow in people I pass by and am always wondering what their stories are. I have a lot of compassion for them. I also think about people who may have the same issues but manage to hide their problems from the world. I am often thinking about this “hiding” when painting. I will cover up areas or scrape off areas of a painting, and this is why I have started to collage material and paper over parts of my paintings.
IH: You have training in several art mediums (from oil paintings and graphic design, to photography, printmaking, and drawing). Do you have a favorite style? If so, which and why?
JG: Painting is my favorite as it allows for more freedom and hands on making. I love design too but sitting at the computer doing design is tedious sometimes and I miss the messy hands-on aspect of painting.
IH: What do you set out to say with your work? Do you find your pieces have a social, cultural, or political point of view? Or is your approach more about sensations, emotions, and escapism?
JG: I would say a little of both, even though most of my paintings don’t have recognizable figures in them I am often thinking about people when making them. All the strange and wonderful things I see people doing in this world especially helping each other in hard times.
“The Mountain”. Acrylic on panel
“A Secret”. Acrylic on panel. Featured in Territory
IH: Who are your biggest influences? And do you remember the first time you were moved by art?
JG: When I was a kid we lived in the SF bay area and I remember going to the Oakland museum of art and seeing the Diebenkorns, and the Bay Area Figurative artists. They used so much paint and the paintings were so big and somewhat abstract – I loved them.
IH: When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
JG: I think I always wanted to be an artist. My mother and stepfather were artists so I got to see how they managed their lives.
Richard Diekorn. (Untitled) “Invented Landscape”. Acrylic and gouache on paper (1966)
David Park. “Four Men”. Oil on canvas (1958)
IH: What about the art-making process brings you the most joy?
JG: Getting “in the zone” and losing track of time while I am painting.
IH: What inspires you, and what do you think helps inspire creativity?
JG: Like I said I think its people and all of their foibles.
IH: Do you have a regular schedule (for example, painting 2 hours every morning) or do you wait for inspiration to strike?
JG: I try to paint or at least go to the studio just about every other day.
“Dancing”. Oil on canvas
IH: Do you have a dream project? (Something you’d want to create if time, space, money, and access were plentiful.)
JG: Not really but if I had a larger studio I would love to be able to work much larger.
IH:What is the most important tool in your artistic tool belt?