Jami Tobey's name might've given her art career a boost; but make no mistake, she's made a name for herself through her own talent and hard work.
The daughter of famed sculptor Gene Tobey, Jami Tobey was immersed in the Santa Fe art scene from birth. Now living in Murrieta, Calif., about an hour north of San Diego, she's a nationally renowned painter and is represented in galleries in Palm Springs, Delray Beach, Fla., Park City, Utah, - and Rain Dance Gallery here in Durango.
"Colorado is my favorite place; if I could live anywhere, it would be there," Tobey said Tuesday before heading east for tonight's one-woman show at Rain Dance, which features 40 of her paintings.
"That's a big show for me. It's been a very prolific year, and I've done a lot of work. Durango seems like a good showcase to show how much it's evolved," she said, adding that her typical shows average between 15 and 20 pieces.
Tobey describes her style as "impressionistic landscapes." She works primarily with acrylic and ink.
The description is apt. Her scenes are at first glance typically pastoral, but clearly developed central images of rural structures, mountains and are augmented with semi-abstractionist images of trees and skies that can best be described as something between reality and an almost childlike whimsy. But they are far from childish, either. Such intangible qualities are the stuff of what world-class painters are made.
Her paintings are the result of her considerable travels, which have been curtailed in recent years by the addition of a husband, two young children and a dog, all of whom will accompany her for a vacation in the mountains this week after tonight's show.
"I take tons of photos when I travel and I sketch a lot, and sometimes I merge things. I might see a cool barn that's nowhere near the landscape I chose to paint and I'll pop it in there," Tobey said. "The other things, like the skies and the trees, they're more impressionistic and based more on a mood or a thought than a tree that I actually saw."
Despite her pedigree, it wasn't always a foregone conclusion that Tobey would follow in her father's footsteps and become a famous artist. Her love of Colorado dates to her years at Western State College in Gunnison where she was an English major until chancing upon an oil painting class during her freshman year.
"I always had artistic inclinations and always hoped that's what I'd do, but I didn't expect it to be painting because my dad was a sculptor. I'd never done any painting," she said. "Now I can't imagine doing anything else."