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Palm Coast Friday, Mar. 12, 2021 4 months ago

2020 Artist of the Year: Jan Jackson honored by Gargiulo Art Foundation

Jackson is curator of the Grand Gallery at Grand Living Realty and a member of the Palm Coast Arts Foundation.
by: Brent Woronoff Contributing Writer

As a writing teacher, Jan Jackson taught her students how to find their voice. As an artist it took many years for Jackson to find her own voice.

The pastel artist was named the Gargiulo Art Foundation 2020 Artist of the Year. It is an award that is presented the following year after the winner is selected. Jackson’s work will be featured in the east wing of the new Galleria d’Arte, 231 St. Joe Plaza, Palm Coast, through April 27. An opening reception and a Meet the Artist and Art Talk was held March 6-7.

Jackson is the 21st recipient of the GAF Artist of the Year Award. “It’s really a great honor,” she said.

She is well-known in the local art community as the curator of the Grand Gallery at Grand Living Realty and a member of the Palm Coast Arts Foundation.

Piece by Jan Jackson displayed at Galleria d'Arte. Photo by Brent Woronoff

“This year we had four nominees for artist of the year," said GAF co-founder Tom Gargiulo. “One of the requirements is they’re not only a good artist but they also do something for the art community. As we went around, we went to all of the artists’ home studios and there we saw more of their work. If you know Jan Jackson, you know her work, but you never see a large body of it. Jan Jackson has so much work. This gives her a good opportunity to have a retrospective show, work that the public doesn’t see. She’s very good.”

Jackson, 81, was a water colorist in art school in the late 1960s. After earning degrees in fine art and art history at Wayne State, she returned to school to earn a master’s in education.

She taught elementary school for many years in Chicago, utilizing the Bay Area Writing Project principles to improve the use of writing in all subject areas. In 1995 she took an early retirement to get back to her artwork.

“I decided I was very interested in pastel, but I felt I had to find my own voice,” she said.

She was interested in textiles, specifically the mola blouses worn by the Kuna Indian women of Panama and the neighboring San Blas Islands. Molas are made by a reverse applique method with layers of different colored cloth sewn together and designs formed by cutting away parts of each layer.

“I’ve been to Panama, and I collected the molas for a lot of years,” Jackson said. “I thought, How can I interpret that?”

She decided to use textured paper and paint stitch marks around her designs to look like fabric.

"For a style to develop you have to take it as far as it will take you."


“For a style to develop you have to take it as far as it will take you,” she said. “Gradually I changed to surrealism and magical realism. Space becomes an important element. My newer paintings play with space.”

After leaving the Chicago area, Jackson and her husband, Leigh, moved to Arizona. She later opened Dreamscapes Gallery in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jan and Leigh have lived in Palm Coast for eight years.

She has been the curator at the Grand Gallery, now the Grand Gallery of Palm Coast Arts Foundation, for nearly two years, changing the shows every six weeks. Finding artists, she said, is not difficult.

"Rainbow Dogs" by Jan Jackson. Photo by Brent Woronoff

“This area is rampant with known artists. We’re overflowing with artists — underappreciated artists, I feel,” she said.

She taught pastel art for three years at the Flagler Art League and helped develop a class on painting tote bags for the Palm Coast Arts Foundation. She also painted the loggerhead turtle sculpture “Vincent” as part of the PCAF’s Turtle Trail. “Vincent” is located at the Palm Coast Community Center.

The other nominees for Artist of the Year were Barb Forristall Scapin, Christine Broussard and Bob Teller.


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