Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A tree grows for Jill Lear

Painter presents trees as order in nature


By SABINA DANA PLASSE
Express Staff Writer

“Jardin du Luxumbourg V” by Jill Lear. Charcoal and acrylic on paper at Friesen Gallery.

Jill Lear has been exhibiting her paintings in the Wood River Valley since 2004. Her mother and stepfather live in Sun Valley, making it a home away from her Manhattan home. As the fine-arts artist in the family, Lear has found Sun Valley to be her place of sanctuary.

"I love New York City but there is always competition," she said. "In Sun Valley, there is quiet, and I get things done."

Creative talent in the Lear family runs deep, even through marriage, as her stepfather is Adam West, aka Batman.

"We are a pop icon family of the '60s," she said.

Lear's grandfather not only invented the Lear jet, but he also invented eight-track cassettes.

Lear studied at a progressive New York arts school where drawing was the foundation for choosing between painting and sculpture.

"It taught us how to look," she said. "I could not find models to do my work so I discovered trees—trees don't move."

Lear said she paints with space and alignment in mind but is always conscious of nature because nature does not always have formal structure.

"My subjects are trees," she said. "They are a vehicle and means to explore structure and order against chaos. There is always a balance with trees no matter how they look because it's nature."

Her paintings are abstract but convey order because her tree subjects are clear. She said architects tend to be attracted to her work because of her painting's spatial qualities.

Lear's tree subjects are rarely from Sun Valley. She travels the world looking for unusual trees, having visited Paris, Central Park in New York City, the San Juan Islands in Washington, Seattle and Texas to find trees.

Constantly photographing trees, Lear said her work has to make sense. She investigates color in nature and on her palette. She is very specific about landscape settings and about proper space, relying on geometry to create her work. Many titles of her work are exact coordinates for the location of the trees she has depicted.

"I love clean lines and being minimal," she said. "Trees became a wonderful study for my obsession with order."

Lear's exhibition, "Jill Lear: 43° 40' 47" N 114° 21' 57" W" is at the Friesen Gallery in Ketchum. She is also included in Andria Friesen's book "Speak for the Trees," which features an array of renowned and emerging artists who use or have used trees to inspire their work.

"It's still evolving," Lear said. "I just want my trees to be in places where people love them."

Sabina Dana Plasse: splasse@mtexpress.com




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