Local artist Janette Hopper is a Renaissance woman: printmaker, painter, dancer, educator and world traveller. Spending simply 10 minutes with her is enriching and enlightening. Talented and brilliant, Hopper’s easy and pleasant spirit comes through in her artwork and cultivates an essence of creativity.
Her spacious studio fills with natural light. The view of her tree-lined landscape creates a peaceful place to delve into shelves featuring lifetimes worth of prolific work.
Raised in Idaho, Hopper worked in Columbia in the Peace Corps. Thus, elements of pre-Columbian culture find themselves inserted into scenes she creates; her background imbues a captivating political activeness. A Fulbright Scholar, after obtaining her MFA from the University of Oregon, Hopper spent a year teaching in Denmark. She cultivated an interest in printmaking and began to incorporate café love scenes in her art work.
“European cafés are such a wonderful, romantic idea,” Hopper states. “You can run inside of them to get out of the rain, and you never know what could happen or who you could meet.”.
Having hung numerous exhibitions in both the U.S. and Europe, Hopper’s latest installation fittingly takes place at Costello’s Piano Bar in downtown Wilmington. The place emulates and invokes the intimacy and relaxing atmosphere much like the European cafés she idealizes. In fact, Hopper will have a residency at Costello’s by installing three shows, or chapters as she likes to call them, every two months. First up is “Medieval nastygrams (the foibles of man).”
“The first chapter is all prints and focuses on [my previous] series, ‘The Seven Deadly Sins of Mankind,’ [featured on encore’s cover last April 2nd, 2013, in ‘Sinfully Provocative.’] These works are ironic, comical and a social commentary,” Hopper states.
The series first was exhibited at gallery 621N4TH. It’s Hopper’s interpretation of how a medieval printer would be struck by our society in the context of understanding the seven deadly sins. Riddled with art’s historical references, Hopper’s “Seven Deadly Sins” forces us to look at our own actions, our relationships with both an advancing technological society, and the temptations its poses, as well as the instant gratification it indulges.
In addition, Hopper will exhibit a new print she created of Costello’s. An intimate atmosphere, joyous people and amorous couples fill the scene. Front and center is a piano player; a sense of depth and value has been achieved through the alternation of black and white. A contrast in figures and an ease of visual digestion gets achieved by the light and dark.
In two months time, Hopper will hang the second chapter, entitled “Nature, the Killer App.” The nature-inspired oil paintings present another body of work focused on light and shadows, as well as reflections and water. “Really nature is the ultimate, best, most awesome gift that mankind has,” Hopper says. Combining both cool and warm colors, her works have a luminescence, an otherworldy glow.
The third chapter, “To the Cloud! Vaporware,” will feature oil paintings focused on clouds. “Clouds are ethereal,” Hopper states, “They are so important to bring us rain; atmospheric affects that inspire us and transform our moods.”
Hoppper refers to the entire six-month exhibition as “Dancing Through My Blogosphere,” because the three shows are a smattering of her artistic talents and experiences so far in her career. “I dance through my life both literally and metaphorically,” the Contra and Tango-dancing artist quips.
This visual journey of Hopper’s experiences is enhanced by the fact that she is exhibiting both old and new work. Some of the paintings were created here in Wilmington, others in Denmark, Germany or across numerous other locales Hopper frequents. This expansive body of work includes large-scale and some smaller paintings.
“I’m really excited about this exhibition,” Hopper states, as we stand in her studio surrounded by a lifetime of ingenuity. “I have been wanting to do something like this for a while—a rotating show, which allows people to fully experience and comprehend my art work.”
To realize this dream exhibition, Hopper’s two loves—dance and art—played a crucial role. Meeting local artist Mio Reynolds at an open-drawing session at the Cameron Art Museum helped propel it to fruition, as Reynolds curates Costello’s ongoing exhibits. Hopper and Reynolds bonded over their shared love of art and dancing.
“I invited Mio to my studio to see my art, and she was very excited about my linoleum prints and sky and water oil paintings,” Hopper says. “She asked me if I ever had a show at Costello’s Piano Bar.”
Reynolds exhibited at Costello’s last year; she and Hopper conceived the idea of dividing the show into parts as to cover the vast divergence of Hopper’s talent. The rest is Wilmington art history.
Each chapter in “Dancing Through My Blogosphere” will have its own reception. Chapter one, “The Seven Deadly Sins,” will take place on Saturday, February 15th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. will feature champagne, appetizers and live music. Costello’s is located at 211 Princess St and is open 7 days a week from 7pm – 2 am.
Dancing Through My Blogosphere, Chapter 1: Medieval nastygrams (the foibles of man)
Artist reception with Janette Hopper
Sunday, February 15th, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Costello’s Piano Bar and Lounge
211 Princess Street
Open seven days, 7 p.m. – 2 a.m.