When I think of the printmaker Jean Gumpper, two words come to mind: thoughtful and calm.
Thoughtful describes who she is as a person and as an artist. Jean never fails to pen a thank you note or deliver on one of the many recommendation letters she’s asked to write for former students.
More centrally, it’s the word that comes across in her beautiful artwork, exemplified by a skillful layering of metaphor and meaning. Gumpper creates her landscape-inspired prints through a number of printing processes, perhaps most notably a reduction woodblock process best explained visually, below, from the process link of her website. But let me simply say this: at a minimum, such exemplary stuff requires a highly developed color sensibility, the eyes of a skilled photographer (Jean often works from photos she’s taken in the field), a steady hand, and sharp gouges.
Oh, and as her printmaking students would no doubt agree with, the many time-consuming layers each print goes through requires at least one more thing:
Jean is a printmaker, Lecturer and Artist in Residence in the Art Department of the Colorado College, a post she’s occupied for nearly two decades, and her generous and considerate spirit and international reputation is the reason a large number of students choose to become studio art majors at the school. (From time, when I used to work in the department, I’d query a studio art major why they decided to focus on art, and “I took a class with Jean Gumpper” was, and no doubt still is, a common refrain.)
Jean attends as many of her openings coast to coast and beyond that her schedule allows, but otherwise the Art Department has wisely barred the doors; in other words, she may check out any time she’d like, but she can never leave; she’s much too valuable.
The other descriptor that comes through in her work is a calmness – a harmoniousness and repose, often while employing powerful colors you wouldn’t typically expect to coalesce into such an overall “peaceable kingdom”, and belying the frenetic pace at which she produces her limited edition prints, balancing her heavy exhibition and teaching schedule. It’s a dichotomy that mirrors the “surface tension”, if you will, that her work maintains between abstraction and representation.
Jean graciously allowed me to peer into her Packard Hall studio for the following up-close and personal glimpse into her private workspace. Most of what follows is somewhat similar to the largely text-free, photo-centric post I did for Jean’s friend, colleague, and now Professor Emeritus at the Colorado College, Carl Reed (who still owes me a cigar).
Only, this time, I wanted to document some of the everyday objects that make up her well-used, serene space with a front row view of Pikes Peak. Witness her thoughtful deliberation even in the Post It Notes she writes herself regarding things she wants to address in her work-in-progress.
Jean Gumpper is represented in the US by Groveland Gallery in Minnesota, Davidson Galleries in Washington, Ebo Gallery in New York, William Havu Gallery in Colorado, and Hudson Gallery in Ohio, as well as Open Studio in Toronto, and Thomassen Gallery in Sweden. Her prints are in collections of The Art Bank at the Department of State, Washington D.C.; Boise State University; The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center; Cork Printmakers’ Special Collection, Ireland; Cranbrook Institute of Arts; Flint Institute of Arts; Kirkland Museum of Art; Rocky Mountain National Park; Springfield Art Museum; University of Colorado; University of Miami; University of Pittsburgh; University of Wisconsin; and Turku Art Museum, Finland, as well as in collections in the United States, Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan, Nepal, and Sweden. Jean received a Visual Artist Fellowship award from the Colorado Council on the Arts. She has taught international print workshops at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and participated in artist residencies at Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Goodwill Museum in Rhyolite, Nevada, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, Ucross Foundation, and the Grand Canyon.