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Sea change

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Jann Jeffrey was looking down from a boat into the ocean and found herself hypnotized. Once back on land, it was something she wasn’t able to shake. For the past few months, she has been quietly trying to recreate the colors and shapes of the moving water that transfixed her. It was an obsession that became the basis of her newest art-show, La Mer²: The Ocean Squared.

“I’m still struggling with about four paintings right now,” Jeffrey said. “To translate what your mind has taken in and what your eyes have seen and to be satisfied with turning it around so it’s symbolic or it’s taken on a different shape entirely is really an exercise that is very mental.”

It has been such a challenge for Jeffrey to capture exactly what the ocean opened up inside her, with “turquoises, greens and blues” that she had never experienced living in a landlocked state. She even had to change her routine but believes it made for an even more original artistic experience.

“Sometimes you have to be somewhere in between the approach to the canvas and your feeling like it’s finished; there has to be some down time,” Jeffrey sighed. “Occasionally, it’s really hard to recapture an idea that you had several months before. I deal with that quite a bit, and I’m lucky enough to have a studio where I can leave everything out as I am working on it so I can come back to something that I started two or three months ago and try to work more on it.”

Art lovers and seafarers alike can view the results of Jeffrey’s aquatically inclined Sisyphean task when La Mer²: The Ocean Squared opens Friday at the Jann Jeffrey Gallery.

The exhibition runs through Nov. 30 and features not only Jeffrey’s paintings but also mixed-media and photography documenting her
transatlantic voyages and the impressions they left. As for “squared” in
the title, it’s a personal style she realized it was finally time to
embrace.

“‘Squared’ is a play on words because practically everything I do, no matter how hard I try not to, ends up with squares within it or as the outside shape or as a theme somewhere within the piece,” Jeffrey said. “No matter what I’m working with at the moment, somehow, a square enters into it. I used to really fight it, but over the last 20 years, I’ve just given in to it. I had to.”

The shapes might be square, but Jeffrey intoned that the vibe of the show is anything but. She hopes Oklahomans feel the same sense of “exhilaration” she did staring down into those deep international waters.

“I think people will have not seen anything like this before in terms of what the ocean is,” she said.

“The photographs I took are not like other photographs. It’s my interpretation of the designs that I saw in the water that are unlike everybody else’s. I want them to see and experience and feel what I did as I was watching them.”

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