Teri Jonas | Immersed in the Moment

Green Grove, Pastel 20" x 20"
Green Grove, Pastel 20″ x 20″

By Wolf Schneider

IT WAS 1970. THE WOODSTOCK GENERATION HAD FOUND ITSELF. Teri Jonas, a budding artist in her late 20s living in Youngstown, OH, was about to find herself, too. It had nothing to do with guitars, tie-dye, or tuning out and turning on, but it had everything to do with mind expansion.

There Jonas was, strolling through the city’s Butler Institute of American Art, as she was wont to do since moving there from Texas, and on this particular day, she happened upon an exhibit by Asian-American painter Chen Chi [1912-2005]. Chi, who grew up in China, had come to the United States as part of a cultural exchange program and settled in New York. Self-taught, he specialized in impressionistic landscapes and cityscapes. Jonas wandered into a room of his artworks. “It just knocked me over,” she recalls. “Most of the paintings were of trees, which I so love. I don’t know how to put it, but standing there, looking at a painting, I became part of it. When I finally surfaced from just total awe, I was crying.” Right then and there, her career course changed. “I said, ‘That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to paint,’” she remembers. “Up until that time, I’d mostly done crafts. I didn’t have any real art training. The deepest influence on my painting has been Chen Chi.” Jonas spent her first 20 years as an artist working in watercolor, like Chi, then switched to pastels 15 years ago because she wanted a more opaque look…

Featured in April 2007

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