Spotlight: Jo Ann Gentle (ge1836)

By Sharon Brown (Sharon) on August 30, 2010

I thought I was an artist until I met this week's Spotlight guest. Now I've decided I'm a student at the knees of a master. I knew Jo Ann could paint, I've followed her paintings for a long time, but I never knew till now just how talented she really is. It is my pleasure to introduce Jo Ann Gentle to you, and to show you some of her very beautiful work.

I want you to meet a delightful and very talented lady. When I asked if I could interview her for this week's spotlight, this is what she said:

"Holicow, I never thought I was so special! I would be honored to be interviewed."

That's our Jo Ann, and yes, she is very special. She has so many degrees and has shown her work in so many galleries it might take several pages to list them. But before we get to her professional side, I'd like you to see the real person behind the artist. I asked her to tell me a little about herself, and this is what she said:

Jo Ann:  2010-08-29/Sharran/70e6beArt has always been part of my life, from early years watching my grandmother do handwork at night, to making my own dress patterns in my teens.

I respond to nature and look for motifs that indulge my eyes. I love broad vistas. The rolling hills landscape with shining deep cut lakes of my native New York Fingerlakes region is as moving to me as the subtle edges of the flowers in my suburban garden. I have always lived in the Upper New York State area. I was married young, had four daughters right away in 5 years and when the youngest was 4, he left for someone with more money.

That was 1964 .2010-08-29/Sharran/6508f6

I took the freedom I had and built a life that was solely my own. Those were the years of the beginning of the feminist movement when Germaine Greer and Betty Friedan came out with their books on feminism, when the "free love", Peace, and Alternative lifestyle began. I developed my own methods to deal with raising four kids alone.

I had the support of a good family and my ex was faithful with child support. Child support wasn't much but it helped until my new found craft life got its feet on the ground. Meantime I went to college and earned a Masters degree in Ceramics and Fine Art so I would be fully prepared to devote my life to art.

I graduated in 1971 and started my pottery that year. I was 35.

I needed to work from home (no daycare). The girls were almost all out of the house by then so it wasn't like I had to bottle feed anyone. I helped build a 50 cubic foot gas kiln (with help from the professor who designed it) in my garage, added a ten foot deep room for throwing and glazing2010-08-29/Sharran/f36a2b and set to work designing and making my own creations in clay.

Much of this was called production studio pottery which was sold at outdoor festivals and to Galleries and shops all over the east coast and in some European countries.

That was a gentle time of anti-establishment lifestyle with no judgments, no labels, no private clubs, and great Bluegrass, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, Ry Cooder, Waylan Jennings, etc.

My musical taste was all over the map.

My life consisted of a great cup of coffee in the early morning hours, stroll to the studio in the garage at the back of the house, checking out the garden on the way, step into the studio and wedge up 100 pounds of clay in small balls, sit at the wheel and throw pots for 2 hours. The production season lasted from May to September.

I would design all winter, start production in May and be ready for the first show in Maryland in May.2010-08-29/Sharran/4ee296

There would be an art festival every two weeks all summer, travel and set up. Sell and tear down, pack the van and come home to another week of throwing pots and paperwork, record keeping is very important. No matter how free and easy the lifestyle looks, you must run it as a business.

The picture of the 1984 booth was taken for jurying into the Las Olas Florida show.

I am an ambitious over–doer so there was a surplus of casseroles, mugs, pitchers and plates by the next spring. I dreamed up the idea to reduce this surplus by having a studio sale and sell my “Pottery by the Pound”. The yard and studio were set up and a table inside the throwing room was used as a check out, with scales my grandmother u2010-08-29/Sharran/5dea3csed to use for weighing fruit for canning. I used this scale to weigh balls of clay.


In the late 1980's a sculptor friend and I developed a line of sculpture called “SOWEST ELEMENTS” We sold these pieces to galleries and interior designers mostly.

The Pottery Life lasted until 1996 when clay got too heavy and “fine art” shows were gradually disappearing.




Artists are born wired to create so I turned to watercolor painting and taught myself that skill while pursuing the art of “Whiteline Woodcut Printmaking”. There are no books on the subject so I turned to any information I could find which included asking for tips from some New England printers who are working in this style. I have given workshops on this printmaking method.

This photo below is for a brochure on the “Whiteline Printmaking Method” taken in my old home studio.


My watercolors are/were shown at two galleries in the area. I had a one woman show at one of them in May of 2008. The show was all watercolors as I had stopped doing woodcut prints by then.

I have since removed all my paintings from this gallery and have only a few at the second gallery 40 miles from here.

All of my work can be seen on my website:

As for hobbies I like to cook, and gardening could be added to that category. 

As seen in the photos, there wasn't much room on my property for extensive gardens. I raised eggplants and tomatoes in large containers for the first year. After that I just planted flowers in the 13 containers spread about the place.

These pictures are from 2003. The next year I planted more lilies along the fence.



My studio home was an Arts and Crafts bungalow on a lot 40X120 and most of this was house and studio. I lived there for 50 years. It was hard to leave but it was even harder to maintain. My daughter and her husband and I sold our houses in 2007 and moved to this home where I now have a suite and lots of space to garden.

This is how the backyard looked when we bought the house.



The largest garden is at the back. The raised bed of weeds and black raspberry bushes belong to the neighbors.


It is such a joy to watch this develop and thanks to my inborn “A Type” personality, it will continue to evolve.  


Then I built the “Lasagna” Garden.

I wanted to have a garden to look at while I was at my computer. The lasagna garden was started in March 2009.

The lasagna garden is the easiest way to start from scratch or extend any garden you want. No digging sod. My advice, from a big mistake, is to start the garden in the fall and let it sit all winter. Plant it in the spring.

Here are some albums of recent views of the gardens.


***Jo Ann, what about now? What artistic endeavor do you have planned? Do you have a favorite artist?

Jo Ann:  My favorite artist is Gustav Klimpt.

***Oh, mine too. I love his painting, 'The Kiss', and I was not surpr2010-08-29/Sharran/46bd71ised when Jo Ann sent a copy of it to me. Seems we share a love of beautiful art.  What else, Jo Ann?

Jo Ann: I am working on a painting of Ligularias, just the drawing so far.
The color will start in September or October. It's a watercolor, a full sheet of paper.

I am semiretired from the art world. I only paint when I want, what I want.

I am not taking commissions and have no real plans for any big projects or national shows.

I love the challenges of my garden, which has been my creative outlet for the past three years since moving into this house with my children.


***Jo Ann gave me one last word of advice: "Don't be in too big a hurry to grow old. Every year brings new surprises. I realize I can't do some of the things I did 3 years ago when we bought the house."

If only I can accomplish half of what Jo Ann has accomplished, I'll be happy. As far as age is concerned, I'm right there behind you, Jo Ann! Thank you so very much for sharing your life and your talent with us.

Folks, I'll end this interview with a list of Jo Ann's accomplishments. Please be sure to check out her website here, and take a look at the other links she has provided. I'm sure she'd love to read your comm2010-08-29/Sharran/f4ad43ents. Remember to enlarge the photos by clicking on them, and read their descriptions by scrolling over them with your browser. Thanks for joining us for this week's spotlight, and Jo Ann, you truly are an inspiration to me! I don't think I've ever known anyone who is as creatively versatile as you are. You have my sincerest admiration. Thank you.


EDUCATION: Masters Degree, Rochester Institute of Tech. School for American Craftsmen
PROFESSIONAL: Adjunct Faculty, Fingerlakes Community College
Summer Faculty, Nazareth College Rochester NY
Invited lecturer “Minimud Conference” 1982 Nazareth College
Summer Workshops Memorial Art Gallery Rochester NY
Whiteline Woodcut Print process workshop 2006 and 2007
MISSIONS: Le Champion Restaurant Webster NY

MRS Z’s Columbia Md.
Crossman Arms Fairport NY
SYKES Datatronics
INVITATIONAL ART FAIRS: Charlevoix Waterfront Art Fair
Oconomowock Festival of the Arts
Las Olas Festival of the Arts FT. Lauderdale FL.
National Craft Fair Frederick Md. And Gaithersberg Md.
FEAST FOR THE EYES, Germanow Art Gallery Rochester NY
RADIAL 80 Xerox Corp. Rochester NY
FIRE and EARTH, Nazareth College
Monroe Community College
WOMEN IN CLAY, Fox Richmond Gallery
Keuka College 
Rochester Ins. Tech.
TWO FIRES, Craft Company#6
MADE IN NEW YORK, Cooperstown Art Gallery
MADE IN NEW YORK, Schweinfurth Gallery, Auburn NY
BEST OF ROCHESTER WATERCOLOR, High Falls Gallery, Rochester, NY
THE LOUD LUNCH EXHIBIT2004, Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery Canandaigua, NY
WOMEN WITH WOW 2005 Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery, Canandaigua, NY
WOMEN WITH WOW 2006 Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery, Canandaigua, NY

2010-08-29/Sharran/51db17, Rinbeck NY
Gaithersburg Md. 
COLLECTIONS: Karen Magnuson Democrat and Chronicle Rochester NY
Elizabeth Wende Breast Clinic, Rochester NY
Jewish Center of Greater Boston
Dr.Stamatia Destounis, Rochester NY
Dr. Manuel Matos, Rochester, NY
Wyeth Labratories, Rochester, NY
Sen. Jim Alesi, Rochester, NY
Arts page features, Wolf Publications, Daily Messenger 
REPRESENTED: Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery,Canandaigua NY
Memorial Art Gallery Rochester, Gallery Store
Renaissance Art Gallery, Rochester NY 2007-2010


Related articles:
art, artist, ceramics, clay, interview, painting, watercolor

About Sharon Brown
I am a retired Art and Humanities teacher living in western Kentucky. I love writing and art with equal measure, but I also have a passion for nature and plants.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Nice article kqcrna Sep 24, 2011 10:20 AM 1
What fun Lance Sep 6, 2010 10:54 AM 0
Thank you for the article PollyK Sep 2, 2010 4:35 PM 17
Love the watercolors! Boopaints Aug 31, 2010 10:05 PM 0
Wonderful` kaglic Aug 31, 2010 6:44 PM 0
A very interesting person! weeds Aug 31, 2010 5:09 PM 13
Great! Ridesredmule Aug 30, 2010 9:28 AM 0

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