The following articles have featured Jocelyn Audette:
Of the Land
What a delight! Three top-notch artists, all with a long history of plein air painting, are exhibiting at Quicksilver Mine Company in Forestville, California. Congratulations to owner Khysie Horn for this fine show! The exhilarating challenge of plein air art is to engage with the living, breathing, ever-changing Other of stupendous nature. It takes passion. Each of the artists at Quicksilver – William Morehouse, Jocelyn Audette, and Adam Wolpert – brings passion to the work.
William Morehouse, who died a dozen years ago, would have approved of showing with these two younger artists. A professor of art at Sonoma State University for more than a quarter of a century, he was a gentle teacher who painted with his students, looked for the right rather than the wrong in their paintings, and pointed to the land as a source of inspiration. Morehouse was a major artist with a long and illustrious career in the pantheon of twentieth-century greats. He was eighteen years old in 1947 when he entered the California School of Fine Arts (now the California Fine Arts Institute), studied with Abstract Expressionists Clifford Still and Mark Rothko, and became Still’s teaching assistant. Other instructors included Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn, and David Park. Morehouse’s artistic repertoire was breathtaking. He took up landscape in the 1980s and became the anchor member of the Sonoma Four, famed local group of plein air painters.
Morehouse’s paintings more than anyone’s bring us into the presence of the vast, quiet power of the land. His landscapes are suffused with a spirit, a transcendence. In this exhibition, we are fortunate to have the sensuous “Elephant Rocks at Pozzi’s.” The window piece is “Myers Grade South” with its powerful evocation of the Sonoma Coast, which lends itself to just a tincture of an echo of Diebenkorn (also found in “Willow Creek” and “Willow Creek 3”). Several other fine paintings are included here, all displaying Morehouse’s great facility with paint and rapport with the land. In his Journal of the Sonoma Four’s cross-country painting trip, William Wheeler says of Morehouse: “…he makes it look easy, the same as brushing or combing hair.”
Jocelyn Audette belongs to the next generation inheriting the Morehouse legacy. For ten years she has been a student of William Wheeler. She has had numerous exhibitions in Napa County and elsewhere. It seems her work has broken through to a new level in recent years. Audette is a vivid colorist with a deft abstract touch that points the dialogue on canvas. Most of her paintings in this exhibition were made en plein air. A third of them (including encaustics) are studio works using her referenece photographs. One of these paintings, “Grazing above the Cliffs”, is strikingly successful at drawing us into the movement in space. The meadow in which the cows graze peacefully is perched atop a cliff plunging vertiginously into the sea. In paintings done entirely outdoors, there is a wonderful quality of spontaneity and sense of mystery that come of grappling directly with evanescent nature. The livelier quality of plein air shines forth in the delightful “Windermere Point, Looking South”, “Bodega Head Beach”, and the powerful “Sea Rocks.”
If there is a Medal for Artistic Valor, it should go to artists like Adam Wolpert—and supportive gallery owners like Ms. Horn—who take the risk of producing and showing art that diverges widely from previous successful efforts. Wolpert studied classical realism in Florence, Italy and is director of the art program at the Art and Ecology Center in Occidental, California. But his beautiful paintings of gardens are not here. For several months preceding this show, Wolpert could be seen nearly any day in Bodega Bay at his French easel painting the mudflats, Doran Park, and Bodega Head. The results are a staggering twenty-nine paintings, not all on display. They are infused with meditative reflection on the elemental simplicity of a single area of local coast: the weather, the times, and the tides. Like Monet’s haystacks, all of Wolpert’s paintings are of the same scene. The horizon is marked by the line of cypresses of Doran Park, moving up or down depending on the sky and water. All but a few show a portion of Bodega Head on the upper right—which, incidentally, was one of Bill Morehouse’s favorite spots. Skies range from delicate sunset colors on a clear day to black clouds heralding thunder and rain. The broad expanse of water beneath Doran varies with the breathing of the tides. We see the fullness of an ocean bay at high tide and the snaking strands of abandoned leftover waters puddle in mud sloughs at the ebb. These are beautiful paintings. They put you there with eyes open and patience to look.
Of the Land is up at Quicksilver through May 14, 2006.
William B. Wheeler
Click the link below to see the review about the "North Coast Four - Napa Land Trust Paintings & Other Landscapes" show at China Basin Landing (Sept 22 - Nov 3, 2001).