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Bio

The Long and de Short of It : The Whole Story

 April 1-9 2020 WALK by our front patio from the archives part of an Installation: Out to Sea from 1986 @ Nexus Foundation For Today's Art, Philadelphia PA


  . "Creating something from nothing absolutely exhilarates and fascinates me, it has for 40 years. The initial inspiration, the spontaneity, the spill,  the surprise, the slow transformation are all integral to creating an artwork. Hopefully each piece grows and changes over time like ideas and friendships. Layers of splashed paint, scraped and masked lines and written  sketches and notes are all mixed together into a puzzle of formal and intuitive soup  . The end game is daunting : create a visually engaging, provocative conversation that expresses  something so personal yet so universal . 

Paintings are objects we live with , but ultimately they are an adventure of the mind. Abstract painting is like jazz improvisation.  I  know a couple of the riffs but not the entire composition . Pivotal moments  linger and during the creative process get reshuffled and revamped to find the essence of the moment.   The night sky, snow storms, pouring rain, fog rolling in..big and small weather shifts, libraries,  scientific facts, have all inspired me and  help to get my creative thought rolling. and thus begins a painting.   My titles sometimes drive the piece but more often are a clue about the

 the inspiration."                          

June 2017 JR interview 


    Whether from memory or from her imagination, the subjects that have inspired Runyeon to paint were sparked long ago by her early exposure to the arts and the outdoors. The forest, the night sky, oceans and lakes, words, books, the horizon line are all recurring themes.  During a studio visit  the late New York Times art critic and friend, William Zimmer,  said: “These paintings are intuitive, smart and quite beautiful”. Runyeonʼs lush expressionistic abstract landscapes and seascapes  are fueled by the unexpected twists of Mother Nature as well as the creative process itself while her collage works are playful and incorporate everyday objects, such as keys, postcards, credit cards, maps and books " 

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, the third of four siblings, Jane Runyeonʼs childhood was one of adventures in nature, culture and imaginative play. Her father, Dr. William K. Runyeon was a renowned surgeon, civic leader and fisherman, and her mother Jane Williams Runyeon was a public relations executive  in radio and the arts . They had four artistic children ; a poet, actor painter and dancer.  Subsequently to date the family tree sprouted two more Bills, one more Frank, making the family tally a total of three Jane’s, four Bills and three Frank’s.   Illustrious ancestors included two U.S. presidents, James Madison and Zachery Taylor, but no visual artists. Jane’s great-grandmother Lilly was, however, an extremely talented seamstress, who could study an evening gown in a shop window and then could come home, customize or replicate it for her grand- daughter , Jane's mother. They collaborated often  making exquisite beaded dresses, full-length tailored coats and evening bags for family and friends. Some of their creations are still being worn. The Runyeon family’s freedom of spirit was led by her mother, a lover of dogs, swimming, literature, theater   and modern art. Older brother Frank possessed an infectious humor and love for creating events.  A gifted pianist, Frank would conspire with Jane to organize elaborate annual neighborhood talent shows with dreams of becoming regulars on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show”. Later brother Frank went on to work in theater in New York City and then Los Angeles. He was a regular on the soap opera, “As the World Turns,” opposite actress Meg Ryan. One of the episodes featured a scene that took place in an art gallery, so Frank suggested that the producers take a look at Jane’s portfolio. This led to Jane’s sculptures and abstract canvases being exhibited in the TV art gallery. It wasn’t the Carson show, but it was national television nonetheless.

 At an early age, Jane held a fascination with art, from the paintings in her family home to Alexander Calder’s “Circus” at the Whitney Museum of American Art.Calder’s transformation of everyday objects into art piqued her interest; Jane never looked at fabric or wire coat hangers in the same way again. Runyeonʼs first venture into making art was at age eight, when her Christmas list was composed of only paint-by-numbers kits. Jane worked secretly on these all winter long in the attic attached to her bedroom. When they were completed she quietly stuffed them into the back of her closet never to be shown to anyone. She did not revisit the notion of painting for a long time. However, Jane’s exposure to culture through her family, going to art museums, lectures, concerts,  theater, canoeing and ice skating under the stars, continued to broaden her artistic horizons.   Jane went to Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana where she studied Fine Art, French and Art History and went to many music performances by famed Dave Baker . Like many young artists, she looked to her for bearers, including Matisse, Kiefer, Nolde, Cezanne and Hans Hoffman in hopes of finding her voice. Her British professor Roger Tibbitts, and renowned American painter Robert Barnes often spoke about William Turner. They both expressed to Jane how her approach to the canvas and her philosophy about painting seemed to echo Turner’s drive to express the power of Mother Nature and the connection to the Divine. The summer of 1972 was, for Jane, life-changing.  She spent a semester in Florence, Italy “eating gelato and studying art history with Professor Guasconi”. The Galleria dell Accademia became Janeʼs favorite haunt, for its architecture and masterpieces by Michelangelo, Wandering the long hallway filled with Michelangelo’s non-finito sculptures and the sun-drenched dome with The David inspired musings about how humans experience the creative process, both its beauty and its strife. By the end of that summer, Runyeonʼs artistic destiny was permanently set on course. After being awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1977, Jane went to the Rhode Island School of Design to study with Richard Merkin and Bruce Helander. It was during this time that Jane discovered the magical boxes of Joseph Cornell. She began making collages and working with found objects. Jane had her first successful solo exhibition at RISD, titled “50 Small Collages”. The University of Cincinnati awarded Jane a full scholarship to continue her studies and she completed her Master of Fine Arts in Painting in 1981.  During those years photographing her chaotic studio, interactive installations, film and found object sculptures dominated Runyeonʼs creative ideas. She often used props like Ice cream parlor chairs woven together with colorful telephone wire or twine with fresh flower window boxes, old photographs and vintage signs, keys, hanging large window frames, and neon light. You were invited to Sit Awhile so you could be part of the artwork. Titles and incorporating language became important during those years. Janeʼs thesis stated “the creative process is sacred, ever changing and therefore more significant than the completed art object,” a concept that is still relevant to her mature work.     Following the completion of her education, Runyeon went on to become an art professor for the next decade, first at the University of Colorado, Denver, and later at Albright College in her hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania. Shortly after arriving home, Jane purchased what was originally a vegetable warehouse in Shillington, and transformed it into STUDIO 105. Famed mushroom chef and restaurateur, Jack Czarnechi, persuaded her to head the design of his new restaurant, Bistro 614. She found it exciting to orchestrate the variety of design elements from seating to lighting and stained glass windows. Shortly after completing the restaurant, Jane was commissioned to design and execute several major stained glass projects: The Heart Center at the Lehigh Valley Hospital, The Reading Hospital, and a 12ʼ x 45ʼ artwork for Swamp Lutheran Church in Reinhold, PA to name a few.  She spent the next couple of years in the studio, refining her landscape and seascape work  to find a pure statement about the seasons of the Northeast. She challenged herself to create a series of works all the same size, 38” x 50”, relating to the specific times of the day or year. This body of work continues today as the Woodland series. 


 In 1998, Runyeon founded All Together Art ,Inc. a collaborative resource for contemporary art. Going into her own business, Jane heeded the advice from a lecture by Dale Chihuly at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, in which he emphatically stated, “If you are as creative in your marketing as you are in your art, you will be a success”. Since this venture required understanding the business of art, she studied at New York University with Serge Sabarsky, German Expressionists art dealer for Egon Schielles. He impressed upon Jane the importance of listening to your clients. After reviewing her portfolio, he urged her to continue with her painting no matter what, because he felt that she had a “pure vision”. Runyeon has  followed Sebarsky’s advice. She continues her painting, focusing primarily on the ethereal natural world, in series such as Astronomy and Romance ,The  Woodlands, Books on a Shelf to the more whimsical mixed media series loosely called Americana. 


 In the summer of 2013 a two-person exhibition titled “Art In Space” debuted at the Blum Gallery on the campus of College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine and at the Schoodic Institute in Acadia National Park during the annual Night Skies Festival. The show was composed of several canvases from Janeʼs spectacular “Galactic”, Festival of the Night  series, and renowned glass artist, Josh Simpsonʼs gorgeous “MegaPlanets” and “Orbs”. Joshʼs wife, NASA/Space Shuttle astronaut Cady Coleman, who had just served as technical advisor to Sandra Bullock on the film, “Gravity”, joined Josh and Jane via Skype from Mission Control in Houston for a lecture on the marriage of art and science.  Jane also was congratulated by First Lady of Pennsylvania, Susan Corbit, for her leadership in the arts and for her painting, Brush Creek at the  Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2013.   Exhibitions and lectures at the iconic Empire State Building, at The Society of the Four Arts, West Palm Beach Florida followed shortly after that.  Today she leads an ambitious interactive ongoing Ghost Train Project that highlights train history and questions it's place in our future. www.ghosttrainproject.com  Upcoming events for all of us are sketchy. There will be a art reception with a 40 plus artworks from several collections done over the last 15 years at the popular , chic Judy's on Cherry in Reading, PA. Planning is underway with Gabriel Baxter for pop up exhibitions in Los Angeles and San Francisco Runyeon works in a space she affectionately call Faux Prague and has a studio show room "Look For the Purple Doors." You are welcome to visit by appointment, She lives in The Little White House with her German Short-Hair Pointer, Meadow Lark, and her husband, whose nick name happens to be Art.  



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