Exhibition Dates: March 4 – 25, 2023
Throughout her career as a graphic designer and visual artist, the late Jan Novy didn’t like to toot her own horn. She was a prolific watercolorist, a meticulous yet playful colorist and a gifted draftsman. Because she was reluctant to show her work, she left behind a little studio in her back garden which was filled with folders, drawers, and boxes of drawings and small paintings along with many annotated color experiments and a big pile of sketchbooks. A mutual friend of Jan’s and mine — Robin Leenhouts — brought me along on a mission to see the swatch pages, scraps and watercolors she had left behind. Jan’s husband, Paul Cartwright was delighted when we suggested hosting a posthumous exhibition of Jan’s drawings and paintings, specifically to highlight her meticulous process and exploration of ideas and colors.
LOOK CLOSELY, a Jan Novy Retrospective is curated in thematic groupings: Neighborhood, Shelters, Windows, Cultivation, Small Patches and Process/Swatch pieces. Titles came from her sketchbooks, annotations and notes. Some pieces are signed and dated, others are tiny corners of larger pages we chose to frame without her signature.
Novy was the kind of artist who carried an idea beyond what most artists would. She would explore an idea like roofs in different mediums, making dozens, even hundreds, of drawings – abstracting the essence of “roof”. In thumbing through her sketchbooks, I was impressed by how deeply she studied writing systems, maps, seeds, grids and patterns. I wouldn’t have that kind of patience.
Nor would I have the patience to draw with the super fine point 0.05mm pen and miniscule three-hair paint brushes she used. I can’t even see some of her lines clearly without a magnifying glass!
Jan had a broad range of interests. She was curious about patterns and fascinated by writing systems. In her sketchbooks she made hundreds of studies of indigenous shelters, gardens, fences, windows, landforms, rocks, walls, riverbeds and rooflines. One large folder holds stunning pencil sketches of hundreds of birds (which we hope to show in our Feathers and Flora exhibit later this summer.)
Paul Cartwright and DD Dowden contributed the matting and framing. Maureen Shaughnessy curated the exhibit. The pieces in this exhibit include framed paintings and drawings as well as unframed (buyers can choose their own preferred framing style) Everything is incredibly affordable and we hope that everyone who knew Jan, or is new to her work, finds something to take home and treasure. Her pieces are not only a window into the artist’s mind and heart — they will inspire us all to look closer at the many tiny beautiful details of everyday life.
~ Maureen Shaughnessy
Shop the exhibit here
A sampling of what you can see in person at 1+1=1 Gallery during the solo show: