If you watched PBS in the 1980s or 1990s, chances are you’ve seen Gary Jenkins, frequently with his wife, Kathwren, by his side, demonstrate how to paint realistic florals. Gary was the second artist, after landscape painter Bill Alexander, to appear on PBS channels nationwide. The show, Jenkins Art Studio, led to a series of instructional books and videos and even a signature line of art supplies and a television series in Europe in the early 2000s. “Oil painting and sharing my passion for art with everyone around the world is a dream come true,” says Gary.
In 2012, after retiring from television and just when many careers might start winding down, Gary and Kathwren road-tripped from their home in California to Sedona, and, like so many artists before them, it was love at first sight. “Sedona had such a good spiritual feeling,” says Gary. Before they knew it, the two were settling into life in Red Rock Country. The change of scenery inspired the Brooklyn-born artist to explore new subject matter, too. Today, from his home studio, Gary paints realistic birds against colorful abstract backgrounds – a far cry from the detailed poppies and roses of thirty years ago. “I love the sharpness of the image of the bird against the abstract background,” says Gary, who admits it was his daughter, artist Heather Roddy, who encouraged him to experiment with abstracts. “When an artist is excited by their work, it shows. If you don’t have a passion for it, do something else.”
Gary’s new mixed-media work is represented exclusively at Rowe Fine Art Gallery. White egrets, Gambel’s quail and mysterious ravens perch and prance against energetic backgrounds that sometimes include 10 layers of paint. “People see all kinds of different things in those backgrounds,” Gary says mischievously. He will divulge that viewers can spot Sedona’s notorious orbs in some of his paintings.
Gary and Kathwren occasionally teach classes from their home, and Gary continues to paint florals, but even he’s surprised by this latest adventure. “For an old guy, this is a big change,” he chuckles. “But it just proves that no matter how old you are, you can change. Age is a state of mind.”
Rowe Fine Art Gallery represents traditional and contemporary southwestern artists. The gallery, located under the bell tower in Patio de las Campanas at Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village, is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 928-282-8877, visit rowegallery.com, or find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.