(Above: Detail from an oil painting by James Kroner, titled “Bamberg.” The piece is part of a show at Karin Clarke Gallery; photos by Paul Carter)
By Randi Bjornstad
Gallery owner Karin Clarke laughs when she talks about the exhibit of new work by artist James Kroner that just opened at her gallery in downtown Eugene.
“It seems that so often I have shows of paintings by much older artists, so when my gallery assistants heard about James (Kroner), they got all excited about this show because he is more their age group — and good-looking,” Clarke said. “I had to tell them, yes, this is exciting, and his work is great — but he’s also married.”
Even so, “It is fun to have a younger, emerging artist showing work here at the gallery,” she admitted. “It does seem that I more often have work by artists at the other end of the age spectrum.”
Kroner, 39, accompanied by his wife, Janelle Kroner — also an artist — and their frisky little dog, Wookie, dropped 16 paintings off at the gallery a few afternoons ago. They will share space through Feb. 24 with several pieces each by Margaret Coe and Adam Grosowsky, who both appear on the gallery’s walls fairly frequently.
Kroner will return to Eugene from California in time for the artist reception for his work on Feb. 2 during downtown Eugene’s First Friday ArtWalk, where he will give a talk at the gallery at 6:30 p.m.
Mother-and-daughter artists Coe and Clarke met Kroner through the painting workshops he leads in many locations, including Italy.
“My mom took two workshops in Italy with James, and she told me I should have a show of his work, even though I mostly exhibit work by Oregon regional artists,” Clarke said. “Then I did a workshop with him in Italy in the spring, and then one in Carmel (Calif.) in the fall, and we talked about having his work here — I think so highly of him as both a painter and teacher.”
The exhibit, titled simply “James Kroner — New Work,” includes mostly smaller pieces, partly because of the difficulty of transporting them, Kroner said.
“Mostly these are landscapes, and done plein air, so they are smaller than what I usually do, which can be as large as 36×48 inches or 48×48 inches,” Kroner said. “I really didn’t start painting until 2005, when I was at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.”
Kroner, who grew up in San Mateo on the Peninsula side of the San Francisco Bay, said he “did sketching once in awhile” when he was growing up, “mostly out of comic books and things like that.”
“I actually studied philosophy at the College of San Mateo,” a nearby community college, before he enrolled at the art school in San Francisco, “and that’s when I realized that painting was what I really wanted to do,” he said.
“I immediately decided I had to take it very seriously, because art tends to be pretty competitive,” Kroner said. “I got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees of fine arts back-to-back, and after I finished graduate school, I started teaching as a way to stay connected.”
James and Janelle Kroner met at the Academy of Art University, “although it was really through friends we knew there,” she said.
She grew up in Washington State, where her family still lives and where the couple enjoys going to paint and ski.
Actually, “he paints in the snow, and I go off with my family to ski, and we meet afterward,” Janelle Kroner laughs. “James is mostly known as a cityscape painter, but he really loves landscape. I’ve been more of a muralist and a decorative painter.”
Nonetheless, Janelle Kroner often accompanies James and his students on workshop trips, “and when my mom and I went as his students, she would paint alongside us,” Karin Clarke said. “And then, people would come up and see her work and buy her cappuccinos — and then they’d pay her for her paintings.”
Examples of Janelle Kroner’s work, including portraits that look suspiciously like the couple’s 5-year-old dog, Wookie, are online at decomelange.com/.
James Kroner’s website is jameskroner.com/.
James Kroner: New Work
When: Through Feb. 24; reception for the artist 5:50 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2, with talk by the artist at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Karin Clarke Gallery, 760 Willamette St., Eugene
Gallery hours: Noon to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday
Information: 541-684-7963 or karinclarkegallery.com