Jack Wilentz will be the featured artist at Sweet Art Gallery during 1st Wednesday Underground ART on January 2.
If one were forced to sum up Jack Wilentz with a single word, enterprising might come to mind. In the early sixties, he purchased a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, where he spent more than 35 years as a trader. “Back when I got started,” Wilentz reminisces, “there wasn’t insurance for traders. If you didn’t execute an order within three minutes of receiving it, any losses came out of the trader’s pocket.”
Coming from this high-tension, pressure-packed environment, one might expect Wilentz’s paintings to be rigid, formalistic studies replete with dark shading, modelling and meticulously-wrought detail. To the contrary, they are whimsically-rendered Impressionist vignettes in which people possess an almost childlike aspect in both posture and depiction. Far from being spontaneous renditions of motifs with which he is intimately familiar, works like The New York Stock Exchange and Venice are enterprising pastiches that encapsulate the tranquillity with which Wilentz approaches both painting and life in general.
In fact, Wilentz eschews Manet and Monet’s admonitions to paint only in plein air, rooted brush in hand squarely in front of the motif. Wilentz readily cops to the fact that he paints in the comfort of his home. In fact, Venice is based on a postcard one of his daughters sent from Italy during a trip she took a number of years ago. Quickly changing light conditions, the continual movement of people through the frame of his cityscapes, and his aversion to carting canvas, easel and tubes of paint to outdoor locations have all led Wilentz to use photographs and the occasional postcard as aids in the execution of his compositions. But make no mistake. Wilentz’s works are informed by careful observation and his extensive travels both here and abroad.
But what sets Wilentz’s paintings apart from the Impressionism of both his contemporaries and those who have preceded him in the genre is his highly-controlled and muted palette, which favors umbers and ochre and pastel pinks and oranges. Oh, a forest green or bright red will occasionally make an appearance in a work like Venice or Ravenna. But they play a purely secondary role, serving to focus attention on the soft serenity created by the broad expanses of earth tones throughout the remainder of each cityscape.
Wilentz’s works can be found in the New York office of Senator Charles Schumer, the Nassau office of Sir John Templeton and various Congressional offices throughout Washington D.C. The artist has participated in major shows at the Gallery of Graphic Arts and the Vinegar Factor in New York, and he is represented by Hubert Gallery on Madison Avenue, Chrysalic Gallery in South Hampton and the Gallery of Graphic Arts in New York. But if you wish to sample his work locally, you will need to visit Sweet Art Gallery in North Naples.
And if you attend 1st Wednesday Underground ART on January 2, you will not only have the opportunity to meet and chat with Jack Wilentz, you’ll be treated to a musical recital as well. You see, Jack Wilentz is not only a painter; he’s a pianist too, having studied with Vladimir Sokolov at the Curtis Music Institute in Philadelphia and Leventritt at Winner Sidney Foster in New York and accompanied Eugene Helmer in New York City.
Sweet Art Gallery is located at 2054 Trade Center Way in the Pine Ridge Industrial Park in North Naples. For more information about the artist, the exhibit or the gallery, please visit www.TheSweetArtGallery.com or telephone 239-597-2110.