Jean Gray grew up in the Kirkland, WA at a time when traffic was virtually nonexistent and the bus route around Lake Washington into Seattle was an easy breezy trip for any art and culture obsessed teenager. She spent countless afternoons in the Seattle Art Museum developing a deep interest in the visual arts.
Following high school she attended Chouinard Art Institute where she studied painting and print making. While at Chouinard, she was recruited to paint backdrops for the Grateful Dead’s 1966 performance at the Kool-Aid Acid Test held on the U.C.L.A. campus (LSD was legal back then). In the coming years she encountered a host of colorful characters, including Jerry Garcia, Grace Slick, Tiny Tim, and Janis Joplin at a time when they were virtual unknowns just starting to make their mark on the world.
Her life adventures took her from L.A. to San Francisco, to a historic house in the Sierra Nevada gold country, and on to a Taos teepee, a hillside house in Maui, and back again to Seattle where she began raising a family.
During the 1990s she designed textile fabric and started various entrepreneurial endeavors. She began painting again when she moved to the Virgin Islands, and in 1997 she opened an art gallery in Christiansted, St. Croix.
In 2000 she returned to the Northwest where she taught art for several years. Intrigued by the work of several ceramic artists, including Michael Corney and Kevin Snipes, she began to study and work in ceramics with the idea of using this medium as a canvas for her humorous and inspired illustrations.
Jean now maintains an active studio in her home in the Mount Tabor neighborhood where she produces unique and varied works which embody the humor, soul, and imagination that have informed her art throughout her creative life.
My primary interest has always leaned toward folk art and emotive illustration. I connect strongly with art that has a naïve nature, uplifting qualities, and a sense of magic. I believe art should be fresh and alive.
My aim is for my pieces to bring an experience of delight and humor to the people who own them. Since childhood I have had a strong visual frame of reference and have always enjoyed making things.
Regardless of the medium, the artist must first master the specific craft techniques in order to be free to create art. The learning curve for ceramics was steeper than I imagined when I began, but because of the medium’s inherent complexity, including the mind-blowing science of chemistry and color, it’s been incredibly rewarding for me.
It’s certainly not the easiest medium in which to do illustrative art, but when image, emotion, and concept marry with the ceramic arts, magic is possible. Art is about magic.