Although critically acclaimed artist Jane Waterous and her tribe have lived in the Bahamas for more than a quarter-century, they intentionally maintain a professional relationship with Canada—and specifically the Sea to Sky. That’s why Jane and her son Jonah are again partnering with the Whistler Contemporary Gallery (WCG) for an exhibition.
Local fans of fine art are no doubt well-acquainted with the surname “Waterous.” Jane has done solo shows in Whistler for years, and this month will mark the second time she and Jonah team up to present the fruits of their respective labour.
“Certainly, Whistler has been part of our history,” Jane says. “The gallery itself is perfectly suited to us, the staff are wonderful—always accommodating and always excited to produce a great show—and it’s just a nice spot to come for a week. The demographics of Whistler’s clientele are exactly aligned with our work: internationally based, well-travelled, with art already in their lives.”
Like mother, like son
If there’s one thing Jane and Jonah both enjoy as much as skiing, it’s sharing their material with all kinds of people. Sometimes, they run into the same folks at exhibitions in London, Paris, Toronto, the Bahamas, and Whistler, and they know anything they sell is likely headed overseas, too. It’s a fitting dynamic for two creators who try to make art that relates to people of all backgrounds.
Jane’s been an artist since she was old enough to hold a pencil. A multidisciplinary talent, she is known particularly for her “Gatherings” collection: an award-winning series of sculpture-like, three-dimensional figures meant to embody a spirit of community. Despite that, Jane admits Jonah is years ahead of her when it comes to sculpting.
Jonah, in turn, praises his mom as “the best teacher in the world.” He has a sociology degree from Queen’s University, but cut his artistic teeth under Jane until he began to generate his own style. That style is called “dotilism”: a thorough painting of thousands of dots which bring a sense of texture and the illusion of movement to Jonah’s pieces.
Jane’s approach is fairly different. She describes it as “whimsical,” based on love, joy and a sense of well-being. Yet there are common threads between her content and Jonah’s—threads they derive mutual inspiration from.
A family business
It’s not every day you see a parent and child share the same passions to the same extent, but that’s what the Waterous family is blessed with.
“The wonderful thing about our art is that we play off each other and we have fun doing it,” says Jonah. “[Jane and I] are both so fortunate to have such a great relationship, and art has done nothing but bring us even closer together. My father Len and my brother Noah are also a part of what we do. They’re part of the business, we have fun as a family, and our family values are shown in the art.”
But the family members motivate each other, too, says Jane.
“We push each other, we test each other and we inspire each other, especially Jonah and I,” she says. “I’m always looking to him to get his opinion on what I do, and vice versa. What he’s doing excites me, and also activates a little bit of a competitive spirit.
“I have to say it’s been an extraordinary gift to a parent to watch their son not just follow their passion, but excel at it. It’s really exciting for me to have witnessed that whole progression of his work: from when I put him into art classes at four years old to really finding a love for it.”
The Bahamas also deeply shaped the Waterous family’s art journey. In fact, it prompted a career change for Jane: a former animator and graphic designer who found a dearth of infrastructure to support filmmaking in the Caribbean. That prompted her to give herself fully to painting.
Meanwhile, Jonah’s experiences as a freediver and scuba diver fostered within him a passionate appreciation for nature, which in turn influenced his creative process.
“My real goal is to expand my reach to a more worldwide audience,” he explains. “I’m still quite young in my career, and slowly but surely, I want to get my art shown in more places around the world. Whistler is a great place to do that with all these cultures coming to go skiing—and more than just skiing.
“I just speak from my heart when I say that we try to create art that speaks all languages to all people.”
From Feb. 14 to 20, the Four Seasons Resort will display an exhibition of Jane and Jonah’s work. On Feb. 18 at 4 p.m., both artists will appear at a meet-and-greet at the Hilton. Find more details here.