Jerry Jordan and Dennis Ziemienski
Friday, September 1, 5:00 – 7:30
123 West Palace Avenue
Jerry Jordan was born on May 4, 1944 to a west Texas farming family. Raised in a churchgoing Pentecostal household with plenty of music and singing, Jordan did not have much chance of exposure to art, but it somehow found him anyway.
Jordan's first foray into the world with which he would later fall in love came at 13 when his mother gifted him a paint-by-numbers picture set which he proceeded to complete and then used the leftover paint to create his first original paintings.
Later, at 17, while at a family gathering in Paris, Texas, Jordan wandered into the open door of a studio belonging to the artist W. R. Thrasher. Thrasher had paintings all over the studio, lined up and ready to be taken to market in Dallas where they would be sold.
"I can still smell it; the thinner, the paint," reminisces Jordan. "Talk about inspired! I didn't know it before, but I thought, 'This is what I want to do.'"
Jordan was so inspired that he asked Thrasher if he would consider taking him on as a student. When the artist refused his request, the determination that would prove invaluable later in Jordan's career manifested and he began to write letters to Thrasher asking him to reconsider. Over a period of several months Jordan wrote 4 letters to Thrasher. Along with his 4th letter, Jordan also sent a small painting, sure this would change the artists mind once he laid eyes on it. When there was still no response from Thrasher, Jordan wrote yet a fifth letter, this time admonishing Thrasher for his rudeness and demanding that at the very least, he return the painting.
It was this last letter that finally drew the artist's attention and he invited Jordan to come and study with him, which he did. He spent two weeks with Thrasher the summer that he was 18 and three weeks the summer he was 19.
It was at the end of the summer in 1963, that Jordan first came to Taos. He fell in love with paintings by the early 20th-century Taos painters hanging on the walls of the lobby, dining room and hallways of the Kachina Lodge where his family stayed. It was through the filter of these paintings that he first saw the beauty of the Taos landscape. Jerry and his wife now reside in New Mexico.
Jordan continues to draw inspiration from the Taos masters. His paintings are rich and vivid; seeming to capture not only beautiful images of Taos landscapes and pueblo life, but also the feeling of Taos itself. Using his mastery of color and strong brushwork to create incredible texture, Jordan breathes life into the images of his beloved land.
Recent museum exhibitions include the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and the Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio at which he claimed the 2013 Committee's Choice Award.
A native San Franciscan, Dennis graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the California College of the Arts. His knack for composition paired with his eye for color gave him a distinctive look and he was able to establish himself as an illustrator in San Francisco. Wanting to explore more opportunities as an illustrator, he moved to New York in 1980. While there, he flourished as an artist, which eventually led him to a successful career as one of the nation’s top illustrators. His compelling poster images include the NFL Super Bowl XXIX and the 2006 Kentucky Derby. His paintings were featured on many well-known book covers including, the Tales of the City series by Armisted Maupin, and several covers for authors Elmore Leonard and James Lee Burke. Dennis was the featured cover artist for Hemispheres, United Airlines in-flight magazine, the National Lampoon and, more recently, Western Art Collector, American Art Collector, Southwest Art, and the Jackson Hole Traveler.
Dennis’ strong and richly colored images borrow much of their inspiration from early 20th century paintings and posters. His early influences, J.C. Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth, Ludwig Hohlwein and Tom Purvis, were all master designers in composition. The demands of illustration and poster design, with its simplified, sculpturally rendered images gave Dennis the discipline and draftsmanship that gives strength to his paintings today. Dennis is not only an artist, but has taught at the California College of the Arts, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, as well as Syracuse University in New York.
In 1986 he returned to his roots in California, bought property, and settled in the Sonoma wine country. About this time, Dennis turned his attention to fine art, when continuous requests of his original images were made and private paintings were commissioned. For the last 30 years, Dennis has been painting in oils for his galleries and private clients. Dennis’ work is in the permanent collections of the Tucson Museum of Art, Bakersfield Museum of Art, the Booth Western Art Museum, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, and the Buffalo Bill Museum. Dennis’ work can be seen at Manitou Galleries in Santa Fe.