Nature insists. Regardless of what human beings do to the natural environment, whether we tend it well or abuse it, nature will act or react.
In the United States, no environment insists quite as wildly as the American West. Its mountains are taller, rockier and more colorful; its canyons are deeper; its trees are taller; its rivers run faster; its ocean is bigger. For California painter Jack Stuppin, the insistence of nature in his adopted state is the soul of his art.
Though born in Yonkers, New York, in 1933 and educated at Columbia College in New York City, Jack Stuppin eventually heard the call of the Golden State, where he studied art at the San Francisco Art Institute. Jack Stuppin remained in Northern California and settled in Sonoma County. For several years, he was a member of the plein air group The Sonoma Four-William Paul Morehouse, Tony King, Bill Wheeler and Jack Stuppin.
For anyone who’s ever been to that part of the country, viewing Jack Stuppin’s paintings will re-ignite that electric jolt one feels when experiencing the physical presence of California for the first time. This is not to say that Jack Stuppin’s paintings are simply visual representations of spectacular landscapes. On the contrary, the paintings evoke a physical experience, akin to a hallucinatory state of being. Jack Stuppin’s shapes and colors are truthful but it’s a truth stretched nearly beyond comprehension. The shapes and colors are richer, brighter, juicier and more sensual than mere reality.
For Jack Stuppin, painting the California landscape has a dual purpose. First and foremost, it is the act of painting itself, the primal drive of every artist to express life through color, shape, line and form. But the paintings also serve as political statements, or maybe a political plea to understand and respect the insistence of nature before we foul it beyond repair.
Jack Stuppin’s work has been reviewed and written about by such distinguished critics and scholars as Donald Kuspit, Mark Van Proyen, Susan Landauer and others. His paintings have been exhibited regularly in group and solo shows since 1985 in venues on the East and West Coasts, including the San Jose Museum of Art, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Columbia University in New York, and the de Young Museum/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Jack Stuppin’s paintings are represented in several major public collections including the Butler Institute of Art, the de Young Museum/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the U.S. Department of State Art in Embassies Program, the Oakland Museum, the Luther Burbank Center, the Crocker Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery and others.
Homage to the Hudson River School: Paintings by Jack Stuppin, essay by Donald Kuspit. ACA Galleries, New York, 2015.