South Whidbey painter Pete Jordan has a new home.
Although he still lives in the backwoods of Maple Glen off Double Bluff Road, he’s gone metropolitan — sort of.
This weekend, he’ll be the talk of the town at Museo, the spacious gallery on First Street in Langley with stark white walls, minimal furnishings and a distinctly urban flare.
Soon it will be filled with more than two dozen new oil paintings by Jordan, one of Whidbey’s long-term artists in residence who came to check out island life in 1979 and never left.
Jordan’s paintings of Whidbey land and seascapes are collected around the Puget South region by individuals and commercial clients. He is the featured artist Aug. 4-27 at Museo, along with Danielle Bodine, whose series called “Twists” is inspired by the poses of her yoga practice.
A reception is scheduled 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 4.
Museo recently became Jordan’s art home, after Brackenwood gallery, where he had shown paintings for decades, closed.
“It was a sad time in some ways,” Jordan said. “It was just kind of luck that I had that kind of stability for 30 years at Brackenwood. I went straight to Museo and asked if they’d be interested in showing my work and they agreed. But then I thought, ‘Whoa, this is a big gallery. I’ve got to get working to fill all this space.’”
For four months, Jordan walked and wandered his favorite South Whidbey lakes, lagoons, woods, beaches and pastures. He took photos, then sat down for hours on end covering blank canvases with fine swirls and whirls of oil paint.
“I really put the hours in once I knew it was absolute I was going to be (at Museo),” he said. “I’ll be taking 25 new pieces but there’ll probably be space for 15 to 20.”
More wall space means Jordan could experiment making much bigger paintings. He previously considered 24 by 30 inches to be a large size canvas. Now he’ll be showing some measuring 40 by 60 inches.
“I like the idea of having bigger pictures,” he said Friday, as set about framing another piece for the show. “The South Whidbey landscape and shoreline pretty much lends itself to that.”
Jordan is known for capturing Whidbey’s unique sense of place with a soft luminous glow that captures mood and moment. He isn’t drawn to obvious scenes but keys in on what is often overlooked — shadows on a field, morning light on a road, abstract patterns of water created at low tide.
His natural scenes are subtle in color and tone, said painter Michael Dickter, new co-owner of Museo, along with his wife, Nancy Whittaker.
“Pete’s landscapes are layered with purples, pinks and blues,” Dickter said. “His layered colors work beautifully with his impeccable sense of design.”
Whittaker credits the former Museo owner Sandra Jarvis for “the prize” of landing Jordan.
“He gives a distinct sense of place, and locals will recognize them,” Dickter added, “but they are shown in such a way that they seem new, as if seeing them for the first time.”
Jordan jokes that he’s probably painted more scenes of Double Bluff than anyone because it’s his backyard. He also walks his dog every day to Deer Lagoon.
Sometimes he merges parts from different places into one frame and oftentimes there’s one emblematic image — a silhouette of a blue heron. An avid photographer, who still prefers film and black and white images, Jordan said his photographer’s eye frames his painter’s view.
“I have an eye trained by the composition of a camera and also the linearity of it,” he said. “It’s a curse and it tends to be very draftsman-like. I tend to think like a wide-angle camera lens when I’m painting. I look at a big expansive foreground without much in it.”
Jordan managed to turn his passion of painting into his livelihood, a dream few artists ever achieve.
He did so alongside his wife Joan Govedare, a well-known artist who specializes in Raku pottery. Each has their own cozy studio warmed by a wood stove in winter and cooled by the forest canopy in summer. (There’s also a small sawmill he ran for 12 years when he became a lumberjack for extra income.)
Born and raised in Minnesota, Jordan was all set to follow in the footsteps of his Forest Service ranger father. Then he took a break from college, explored Oregon and discovered he could paint a decent landscape. Bracing for a look of disappointment when he told his parents his career plans has changed, his father surprised him.
“He said, ‘Oh, you think you can paint pictures? Then do that instead.’”
Museo Gallery hosts Pete Jordan and Danielle Bodine for an artist reception, 5-7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 4. Join Pete Jordan as he talks about his art at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12. Show runs through Aug. 27 at Museo, 215 First St., Langley.