PAT JEFFERS: FULL CIRCLE – ABSTRACT ART

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[September 2021 | By Kathryn R. Burke, Publisher, San Juan Publishing]

What do baskets and abstract art have in common? Lots, if you’re Pat Jeffers. One day, in her “back east” past, Pat and her husband, Jack, were attending an arts and crafts fair in Greensboro, North Carolina where he, a fine art photographer, was showing his work. Pat, then a university administrator at a university in Virginia, and PhD candidate, wandered over to a nearby booth to watch a man making baskets.

And her world changed.

“I was mesmerized,” she said. “The colors, the shapes, the texture of the materials and how it all wove together. I decided right then, watching him work, that I would quit my university job and learn to make baskets.”

Pat and Jack moved to a small town. Pat bought a book, and she studied basketry. She bought supplies and she practiced. “At first, I followed a pattern,” she explained, “but before long, I was on my way, making my own designs.”

Then her life changed again. About six years after her first encounter with artistic basket weaving, Pat and Jack were vacationing “out west” and decided to move. Planning ahead, they bought a lot in Lander, Wyoming. Over the next few years, while still based in Virginia, they traveled and did outdoor shows along the east coast. “We did 12 shows a year, spring and fall up to Christmas. We skipped the hot summer, and spent part of the winter on Jekyll Island, off the Georgia coast.”

The Jeffers made their move to Lander, arriving on April 15, 1997. “I remember the date, because it was Tax Day,” Pat said. She continued making baskets, and soon her basketry was in galleries from Vermont to California. “I was showing in Scottsdale, Santa Fe, Tubac, Arizona, Basalt in Colorado, and Jackson in Wyoming,” she recalled. “When the gallery owner in Santa Fe sold her business—which had been my most prolific and reliable outlet, I started cutting back on the baskets.”

Meanwhile, she had been painting. “It started, mostly as a hobby, mainly because I wanted to learn more about color. I used a variety of dyes for the reeds in my weaving.”  (Pat’s baskets were noted for their color, one reason her sales were so high.) “I took some workshops, read some books.” (Books again—the educational background was still a strong influencer.)

Another factor came into play, in her transition from basketry to painting: breathing. “Microscopic, fibers and particles come off the reeds,” she explained. “They get into your lungs, and I was feeling it. So… painting.”  At first her paintings were representational, created as she listened to classical music. It was also during this period that she and Jack moved again. They were searching for a place where they could be closer to her mother, who had been in an assisted living facility in Arizona—a long trip from Lander, Wyoming.  Driving south, through Colorado, they discovered Montrose, and soon made the decision to call it home. “We found a good place for mother,” she explained, “and it had occurred to us that if we ever needed care, this might be a good place to be.” (A prophetic decision, since a few years later, when her husband became ill, he wound up in an assisted-living facility in Montrose.)

In 2015, Pat, and her artist friend, Loretta Casler, attended a workshop at the art center in Grand Junction, taught by Gregory Botts, a renowned abstract painter. “He grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” she explained. “Painted with the abstract masters, like Rothko, Marsden Hartley, and Ernst. I loved what he was teaching us! And, I said to myself, ‘I’m done with representation. I’m going all out for abstraction.’”

And so… another substantial life change. (The fourth big one, if you have been counting. For most of us, one epiphany, maybe two, is exceptional. For Pat, life changes seem to fall into a comfortable and timely pattern—right move; right time.)

The transition to abstract art was a struggle. “There was a lot of trial and error,” she said. “I learned a lot along the way.” What was developing for Pat came from her background in basketry. “A lot of the colors and delineated shapes I use, grew out of weavings.” The circles? “Basket bottoms.” The fan shapes? “Where the reeds start to spread out.” The long, flexible or curved lines? “Reeds (or weavers).” The colors? “Colors of the dyes I used.” The finished painting? “I often begin the design with the placement of circles just as a basket bottom would begin, then weave the painting from there with the shapes and colors reminiscent of my baskets.”

Her most recent endeavor is what Pat calls Poetic Landscapes. Her insight: “Abstract art can be expressed as a Poetic Landscape, a study of contrast, of dark and light shapes. I like to think of it as just ‘dressed up landscape.’ The thing about abstract art…you never reach a stopping point. Your art is always developing.”

Pat Jeffers has defined her own style of abstract art, “a way of expressing what is uniquely me.” She’s come full circle, from round-bottomed basketry to abstract painting begun with circles. Explore and enjoy her work at Montrose Center for the Arts in September, where her solo show will hang all month. Meet her and hear more of her unique story at the opening reception, Friday, September 3rd.

Pat Jeffers Solo Show. Montrose Center for the Arts. 11 S. Park Ave., Montrose CO. mc4arts.com.

Pat Jeffreys has defined her own style of abstract art, “a way of expressing what is uniquely me.” She’s come full circle, from round-bottomed basketry to abstract painting begun with circle. Explore and enjoy her work at Montrose Center for the Arts in September, where her solo show will hang all month. Meet her and hear more of her unique story at the opening reception, Friday, September 3rd.

Montrose Center for the Arts. 11 S. Park Ave., Montrose CO. mc4arts.com


Pat has taught numerous basketry and painting workshops throughout the West and is teaching a 2-day workshop at MCA, Abstraction 101, The Key to Better Representational Paintings.  The workshop takes place Thursday and Friday from 9:30 am to 4 pm both days.

Images of her work are available on her website:  www.patjeffers.com.