Mary Jo Van Dell, an artist from the St. Croix River Valley of Minnesota, has devoted her life to mastering her artistic vision onto the oil painter’s canvas.
Largely self-taught, Van Dell’s style, unique and independent, defies precise classification. Historical references might include Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth. Her miniimalist palette emphasizes the natural world, austere and uncompromising. Her contrast of light and dark captures the drama and power. With her paintings Van Dell conveys the awe and joy of the nature’s rawness, and invites others to share in her emotional response.
Van Dell is known for evocative works in oil, rich in beauty, mystery and immense power. Many of her paintings depict man’s presence and his struggle to survive in an ever changing envinronment.
She draws inspiration by hiking, backpacking, skiing and immersing herself in the wild. The rivers, lakes and forests of northern Minnesota, especially the North Shore of Lake Superior, and into Canada have been her focus throughout her life. More recently, she has explored and portrayed landscapes of the Pacific coast and desert vistas of the Southwest.
Collected and exhibited nationally and internationally, Van Dell’s paintings hang in both public and private collections including, The Minnesota Historical Society, The Minnesota Marine Art Museum, The National Park system and most recently the Art in Embassies program of the U.S. State Department.
A stand of pines, silent and elegant…or the lakes, gunmetal gray, primeval…or the stark, haunting beauty of the prairies stripped bare of life’s clutter are the intangibles that inspire me to paint.
My work is heavily influenced by the tranquility, melancholy and fear that I allow myself
to experience when in the wilderness. Being alone in the landscape heightens my senses, deepens my insight, allowing me to hear the silence, feel the wind, and see the invisible.
The challenge of creating is exciting and mysterious. When I start a piece, I cannot see the end; thus the work is dynamic, open. I find my way.
I will always be an artist. I have chosen it…or perhaps it chose me. I want my art to continue to evolve with time, but always to convey my response to the wild, lonely places that attract me. My paintings allow me to share with others my respect, honor and care for the earth.