Jami Tobey

by Emily Van Cleve

The expansive, deep-blue Southwestern sky is embedded in artist Jami Tobey's heart and mind. Her colorful acrylic paintings, with their luminescent glow, communicate her love of the skies above her childhood home in Santa Fe. "I adore the way the skies go on forever in New Mexico," says Tobey, who now lives in Southern California. "I miss those skyscapes quite a bit."

Jami Tobey painting

Jami Tobey, Love Poem, acrylic/ink, 36 x 12.

Tobey has developed a unique painting style that is both joyful and playful and celebrates the passion she feels for the natural world. She is known for sky paintings that usually include dozens of swirling clouds hovering above the landscape. "I still feel a tremendous sense of excitement from an approaching storm, that electricity that fills the air, and the sudden push of wind before the rain comes," she says. "My hope is that the movement and color and composition of my work reflects the beauty of clouds and the joy of nature." A recent addition to Tobey's work is the creation of particularly large sky paintings that measure up to 5 feet by 6 feet. "Clouds really set the mood and tone in these giant paintings," she adds.

While Tobey's thoughts are often drawn to the heavens, she also finds great satisfaction in painting flowers. Still-life floral paintings are an important part of her oeuvre. Using acrylic inks with acrylic paint, these vibrant paintings filled with romance and love sometimes appear as if they have been created out of stained glass.

Lately, she's been inserting collage material into her work as well. Glued to the canvas behind the flowers and landscapes may be pages from old poetry books, for example. "I'm a book fiend," says Tobey, who once was a third-grade teacher. "I love to go to bookstores and buy old books. By putting pages from them in the background of paintings, these old books take on new life."

Tobey, the daughter of the noted sculptor Gene Tobey, grew up appreciating all the arts. As a child, she spent hours in her father's studio, where she was exposed to a variety of styles and sculpting techniques. By the time she was 14 years old, she had sold her first art work at a Santa Fe auction.

During her undergraduate years at Western State College (now Western State Colorado University), Tobey studied art and English. After graduation, she married and moved to California. Even when she took jobs outside the home, she remained committed to her art. Many evenings were spent painting for hours at a time. A decade ago she obtained her first gallery representation. Today, she is delighted to be represented by Gallery 822 on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. Gallery 822 hosts a solo show of Tobey's work this summer, with an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on July 25. In addition to displaying a dozen paintings, Tobey showcases furniture painted in her uplifting style. Tobey's work is also part of Gallery 822's Indian Market Group Show, opening with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on August 22, and the gallery's Holiday Group Show, which opens on December 24 with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information about Tobey and her work, visit www.gallery822.com.





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