When we started hanging the work for Jan Croteau’s show Food for Thought, people immediately began coming in and commenting on the festive looking fruits and vegetables. We also got excited about the titles and playful essays that went with Jan’s work. As we moved the artwork around in different placements on the wall, we even started laughing at our accidental jokes. “What if we sandwich the apples?” “I feel those two are going to sell as a pair.”

jans-openingI think everyone who attended the show can agree; Jan’s work reflects a strong sense of playfulness, honestly, and gratitude for nature. Jan writes about her passion for gardening, art and life with her inspiring essays that accompany each piece. As an artist and writer, Jan sends off each painting with a gift of a story. This is what makes her work so unique and personal. You can immediately find words to connect to the artwork, even if you are not a regular gallery-goer.

I had a lot of fun reading some of these stories as I created tags for Jan’s work. One of my favorites was about her annual birthday request for artichokes for dinner! (I have an almost identical story myself!) Jan brings humor into her work through these short essays and sometimes even the title itself! A painting of grapes is laughingly called, “Not Even Enough to Make a Scant Teaspoon of Jelly”.


The Ripe Time by Jan Helling Croteau

Jan also surprises her viewers (and readers) with some thought-provoking messages that you wouldn’t expect to find accompanying bright and lively still life paintings. The pear painting we used for our postcards comes with an essay where Jan quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: “There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it’s perfect to eat.” Not only is this a painting that makes you pause to breathe in the dynamic colors and textures of the visual image, but also a piece that makes you stop to think about appreciating life itself and the precious quiet moments that Jan highlights in her writing.

From the first impact of these glowing paintings on the wall, to reading the poetic and inspiring stories that Jan has skillfully crafted, Food For Thought is a show you do not want to miss! Her work will be on display until October 22 during normal gallery hours. (Monday-Saturday 9:30-5)