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Jean Bundy


I’ve done everything backwards, or maybe I have circled around to the beginning. My attraction to water narratives began while sailing, summers on Martha’s Vineyard which morphed onto canvas. I painted and wrote art commentary at Beaver Country Day, expanding my aesthetic horizons the summer after high school, when I lived/worked at a community center in East London with students, displaced by the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. I wrote more art commentary my first year of junior college, but left when my father died. I followed my boyfriend (husband/David) to law school and on to Alaska, chasing the future Trans-Alaska Pipeline, as we desperately needed a paycheck. For several decades I was a soccer mom living in a mountain cabin, until the routine of loading backpacks with juice boxes and packing the car with sporting gear grew uber-monotonous. So, I enrolled at the University of Alaska; my senior thesis involved visualizing the whaling trade.

Once, I sat in my car, defrosting both exterior ice and interior frost, for several hours, as water had leached from a wet plaster sculpture project. Encouraged to go ‘Outside’ Alaska for graduate school, I rode Amtrak with my portfolio, visiting art schools back East. After repetitive rudeness and doors slammed in my face, I learned institutions didn’t want a forty-something mom. So I went home and wrote a magazine article about age discrimination-- it got published. I was on her way to becoming an art critic. I ended up spending two years at the University of Chicago, where they mixed academia with studio practice. My final project was portraiture of women in paint. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, nearby, had a similar curriculum for combining writing and painting. I was accepted after graduating from Chicago, and flew to and from Alaska for another two years. I continued to paint women while learning how to write art criticism. SAIC encouraged me to get a PhD, which I obtained from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. My dissertation was: Survival and Change in Winston Churchill’s Paintings.


So here I am, one of the only art critics in Alaska, Awards Chair of AICA-International and still painting. Continuing to bridge representation with abstraction, I like painting discarded objects, using Climate Change references, and often return to the essence of the whaling trade. I’ve had over 250 art essays published, including reportage from the Arctic Arts Summits in Norway and Finland (2017, 2019). I’ve also presented papers on artists who contextualize Climate Change, nationally and internationally. In Alaska my paintings have been shown: Anchorage, Juneau, Nome and Barrow; elsewhere: Chicago, LA, New York, and abroad. Three of my paintings appeared in the four-year run of the Off-Broadway, Puffs, the Play. Designing with color for spatial-juxtapositions, along with forming a narrative, are important in all aspects of my work, whether in paint or writing on a computer.

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