Ceramic artist and painter Janis Cutler was born in Florida in April, 1962. She grew up in the metropolitan NYC area and was fortunate to have been exposed to its many cultural offerings. As a young child, among many of her artistic influential memories was NYC Ballet’s performance of Stravinsky's “Firebird”, which made her aware of art's powerful ability to transcend into the dreamworld. She was fascinated by the refined sculptural architecture which housed the wild animals in the Bronx and Central Park Zoos. The stilled creatures and artifacts of Natural History Museum in NYC fueled her imagination. Being at the crossroads of such a cultural mix led her natural curiosity to absorb everything. She internalized this stimulation with equal measure of validity and approaches her art as an ever-changing medium to bring forth the internalization of both external and inner worlds.
Janis Cutler Gear received a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting at Carnegie Mellon University in 1984 with a concentration in sculpture and ceramics. She studied under ceramic artist Edward Eberle who encouraged her to integrate sculpted and wheel-thrown ceramic form with her imaginative painting and drawing as fine art. Janis would layer expressive washes mixed with incisive detail to create surrealistic, atmospheric narrative imagery. In 1984, she exhibited her work at the Forbes Street Gallery in Pittsburgh, Pa.
In 1987, Janis taught ceramics, painting and drawing for a couple of years at the secondary level. It was wonderful to see her students flourish, but the desire to pursue her own painting career persisted. She left teaching in 1989 and attended The New York Academy of Art in NYC, receiving a Master of Fine Arts in Painting in 1991. She studied master techniques under belgian born Xavier De Callatay and was later employed by him as a muralist painter at the Children's Museum of NYC. She also studied under realist painter Jack Beal and drew portraits inspired by her teacher and draftsman Ted Schmidt.
Through her years of study, Janis developed her skills during various art excursions. These include working with The Wildwood Marionette Theatre company in Vermont, painting watercolors of the atmospheric sea coasts and field of the Maritime Provinces, capturing the rich cultures of Trinidad and Tobago, painting on site at the Cornish Coast, and exploring the ancient countryside of Umbria, Italy under the direction of abstract expressionist Nicolas Carone.
In the summer of 1990, Janis began exploring the Northern Scottish Isles, painting the dramatic coastal landscapes and rock formations. After graduating the New York Academy of Art in 1991, she moved to a tiny island called Foula in the Shetland Isles. There, she was immersed in turbulent skies and seas, finally living with the raw power of nature - a stark contrast to the cross-culture stimulation and consumerism of New York City. Janis was greatly inspired by this treeless island. It was filled with multitudes of sheep, basking seals, wild sea birds, colorful flora, and raw winds that carried their scents along the isolated environment. Her work celebrated the Shetland scenery and as a result was featured in two solo shows at the Shetland Museum.
In 1996, Janis returned to the US and lived with her family in Sussex County, NJ, surrounded by countless scenes of nature. She created a ceramic art and painting studio and has been working there for fifteen years. She is fortunate to have Peters Valley Craft Center within close proximity and has been involved in numerous Noborigama wood firings led by mentor and department head of ceramics, Bruce Dehnert. She exhibits her work annually at the Peters Valley Fine Craft Fair. Her work has been exhibited at Peters Valley Gallery and at Art at the Mill, Trailworks, and Sussex Arts and Heritage.
Janis Cutler Gear is currently a ceramic designer for Love Adorned, an artisan boutique with locations in Soho, NYC, Amagansett, the Hamptons and Santa Monica, California. The American Folk Museum in NYC has sold her whimsical nature themed Bohemianwimz porcelain ware in their gift shop. Her ceramic art is currently exhibited at An American Craftsman Gallery in NYC. She exhibits her work in many fine craft shows such as in The Bruce Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, The Javits Center, Peters Valley, The Berkshires, among many others.
Her ceramic work has been described as ephemeral, deep, and romantic. Often her pieces are surreal; other times they are full of color, light, and rhythmic pattern, celebrating the joy of beauty in nature. The merging of disparate elements creates a new language; the intertwining of nature, culture and art history coexists within her work to create compelling pictorial narrative imagery.