Born and raised in New York City, Jeannie Motherwell studied painting at Bard College and the Art Students League in New York. Continuing with her art after college, she became active in arts education at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, until relocating to Cambridge, MA, where she worked at Boston University for the graduate program in Arts Administration until 2015.
She has served on the Cambridge Arts Council Public Art Commission from 2004 - 2007, the Advisory Board for Joy Street Artists Open Studios in Somerville, MA from 2017-2020 and the Board of Directors for Provincetown Arts Magazine 2020 - 2023. Her work has been featured in public and private collections throughout the US and abroad.
Jeannie's studio is at Miller Street Artist Studios, 11 Miller Street, Studio 108, Somerville, MA 02143. She is represented by the M Fine Arts Galerie in Boston, MA., The Schoolhouse Gallery in Provincetown, MA., and Ethan Cohen Gallery in NYC.
In exploring space, I try to make space. I am intrigued with complex and expansive space on a flat surface. The painting process I use creates the unexpected for me. By pouring and pushing paint, I can engage in the element of surprise often using a bright and intense palette, or through my continued passion for black and white.
Employing undulating, bleeding, and layering, my paintings are inspired by the mysteries of outer space and what astronauts often refer to as “inner space” (the skies and the sea).
Jeannie Motherwell at The Schoolhouse Gallery 2021
This Viewing Room presents a selection of eight new, intimate works by JEANNIE MOTHERWELL. These works are smaller than her usual paintings, a direct result of a year in lockdown. During this time, she began pursuing a new format with a more rigorous final editing process, while still embracing the element of surprise in the early stages of her work. In this series, she uses the paintbrush as a control effect, testing what it can do to tinker with her process to shape, change, and push the limits of paint and form. She begins first on the floor by pouring paint with abandon onto her surfaces, spreading it around with an eye for shape and line. In this step, she welcomes the unknown. She pays little attention to what mediums she mixes with her acrylics as it is of little importance to a painter so completely engrossed in her work, squeezing paint straight from the tube onto her canvas. Once the work is dry, she hangs it on the wall and starts editing, never getting too attached to any specific part because it will and has to change. She relishes this editing process as a necessary part of her exploration of her subject. Motherwell looks to the natural world, the depths of the ocean, the deepest recesses of space. She is fascinated with these cosmic and earthly mysteries, exploring these subjects again and again with reverential, probing intensity. She paints with memories of the constant flux of the landscape and the ebb and flow of the surf always fresh in her mind. When she saw the photos from the Hubble telescope, she was fascinated in a similar way again, turning her attention to the vast sea of unknowable space, documented before her with shining bursts of color and light. The natural world is an endless resource to her. Inner and outer space are expansive, raw, and unfiltered, and they all are exalted at the altar of Motherwell. Standing before these pieces, you are confronted with a portal to experience the existential, the natural, and the beautiful. It is a rare intention, nowadays, to seek out beauty as the final product. But when Motherwell guides us there, we can feel it in our bones as a primal reaction. Her work embraces intimacy, mystery, and the all consuming nature of the sublime. As viewers, we have been yearning for this complete relinquishment of control. To view her work is to get swept away in the sea, and to enjoy it.
—Isabelle Turgeon, The Schoolhouse Gallery
As I wrote about Motherwell, whose father was the famous Robert and whose stepmom was Helen Frankenthaler: Their influences are apparent, but there are also values embraced by much of that ground-breaking group in the 1950s, still ongoing among painters today: spontaneity, intense color, and a basic trust in the possibilities of chance. If anything, Motherwell has surpassed her elders in cultivating a lush and opulent vision that builds on the lyrical impulses of a previous generation. Call it expressionism without angst.
—Ann Landi, Founder & Editor Vasari21.com
Jeannie Motherwell's work pits generation against collapse, and are as capricious as light flashing on water. They pin us with similar intensity — a moment of coming to be that will just as soon vanish.
—Cate McQuaid, Boston Globe
As the daughter of two artistic icons, how do you find your own path and message in the art world? Jeannie Motherwell has managed to do both.
—Dirk Vanduffel, Artdependence Magazine, Belgium, 2017
The artwork is 'an event, an occurrence'; that is, an action that emerges in the here and now. At issue is the nature of creation; the 'subject-matter' of Motherwell's work is an 'artistic creation' itself, a symbol of the images and mysteries of creation.
—Gerardo Gil, Fine Art Critic, Barcelona, Spain
Abstract acrylic painter Jeannie Motherwell refuses to grow cold in the artistic shadow of her father and stepmother, Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler. As a stable ecosystem quells its wrestling constituents, Motherwell's refined intuition hushes the spontaneous boundaries of dilating paint on clay board panel and canvas. Over a soberly spoken interview, the New York artist admits in her work the faint pursuit of a faded horizon: the shifting waters from the view of an old home, replaced, in time, by a windowless studio. The methodology of Motherwell's art - to draw a structure from an uncertainty - eerily echoes a ritual from her upbringing: discerning, with the right words, to the joy of her guardians, the spiritual essences behind their cascades of paint.
—Brainard Carey, Praxis Center for Aesthetic Studies
Jeannie’s paintings embody a bold re-visioning of abstract painting. The paintings seem to live in a realm between motion and stillness, micro and macro seeing at the same time. This simultaneousness makes for a vigorous dynamic of what exists as imagination and what is perceived. The work is exciting, the color palette luscious, the overall impact is breathtaking. Alchemy!
—Rose Austin, Photographer, Educator, and former director of the Massachusetts Culture Council
Jeannie Motherwell’s new paintings span the distance between far flung galaxies and the crust of the earth. Much like Gaston Bachelard’s reflections on intimacy and immensity, they speak of memories and dreams, evoking—improbably, delightfully—both the solidity of landscape and transparency of smoke.
—Necee Regis, Writer/photographer
The sensual stain of Jeannie Motherwell’s paintings evoke the change of seasons – fall color, a balance of warmth with the impending chill, slicked over a ground of winter white. Like the first frost over newly fallen leaves.
—Erin Becker, Norma Jean Calderwood Director, Cambridge Art Association
. . . Jeannie has been inspired by images she first saw from the Hubble Space Telescope. I was drawn in by Jeannie's use of color and flow in her paintings and by the way I felt like I was looking at something familiar and completely unknown all at the same time. I also love that Jeannie's inspiration comes not only from space, but also from our oceans (or what a lot of us like to call inner space) and where there is still so much to explore.
—Nicole Stott, Artist, Former USA Astronaut, International Association Of Astronomical Artists
|2019||Juror, The Biennial Project Biennial, The 2019 Venice Biennale
|2018|| Juror, New Hampshire Institute of Art Alumni, Rochester Museum of Fine Arts
RMFA Gallery to be dedicated to Bernier Sept. 8
| 15th National Prize Show Cambridge Art Association, Recital, Acrylic on canvas on board (Juror: Paul C. Ha, Director, MIT List Visual Arts Center)
| Visual Arts Artist Fellowship
Somerville Arts Council
|2015|| 1st Prize, Artsy Autumn ArcWorks Gallery, Riskful Training, Acrylic on encaustic board (Juror: Erin Becker, Norma Jean Calderwood Director of the Cambridge Art Association)
|Black & White 2015 Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, A Sacred Trade (Juror: Christiane Paul, Curator of New Media Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art; New York, NY)|
|2013|| Artist of the Week
The Art Connection
|2009 -|| Corporate Art Loan Program
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
|2009|| Home Is Where The Art Is
Boston Children's Hospital
|2008|| Advisory Board
Cambridge Open Studios (COS)
Monroe Center for the Arts, Competitive Landscape Exhibition
|2002||Best In Show, Annual Open Juried Photography Show Stebbins Gallery, Cambridge (Juror: Paul Weiner)|
|2000|| National's Competition Finalist
Provincetown Art Association & Museum (PAAM)
|Cambridge Art Association (CAA) 2016 -|
|North Cambridge Arts (NoCa) 2000 -|
|M Fine Arts Galerie Boston, MA|
|The Schoolhouse Gallery Provincetown, MA|
|Board of Directors, Provincetown Arts Magazine 2020-2023|
|Joy Street Artists Open Studios Advisory Board 2017-2020|
|NoCa (North Cambridge Artists) Advisory Board 2017-2019|
|Boston University, Graduate Program in Arts Administration, Program Assistant 2002-2015|
|Cambridge Arts Council Public Art Commission 2003-2007|
|Bruce Museum, Education Department 1994-1997|