WARREN, Pa. – Head to the Crary Art Gallery on Feb. 3, 2024, and catch some inspiration from a pair of artists showcasing their work in a new exhibition.
The exhibition, featuring artists Nate Jeffery and Jesse Wolfgang, will run until March 3. The exhibition opening is from 5 – 7 p.m. with artist talks beginning at 6 p.m.
Jeffery teaches art at Penn West Edinboro, Penn State Behrend, and the State University of New York – Jamestown Community College (SUNY JCC). However, teaching art wasn’t his original goal. He applied to universities for his graduate degree solely to grow as a painter but found himself teaching as part of his service hours. He discovered he enjoyed sharing his knowledge with young people and realized his experiences gave him a unique position to see both academia and the world outside. He hopes these perspectives make him an empathic and passionate instructor.
Being homeschooled from 2nd – 12th grade gave Jeffrey a feeling of independence and might have made him a little less risk-averse. Jeffrey’s journey to becoming a full-time artist and adjunct art instructor was a long and winding road that led him into the manufacturing industry for 20 years while supporting his family and finishing an undergraduate degree. Jeffery is an advocate of using fear to one’s advantage.
“One fascinating thing about life is that often what we fear is failure, and yet without the inherent tension that risk brings there isn’t any possibility for growth—if one isn’t willing to quit a job, go back to school, or move away then the current limitations remain,” Jeffery said in a press release. “But what if a chance is taken?”
Jeffrey’s work is somewhat of a documentary of his life and the people and places in it, but more than that, it is a way of looking for the profound in small ways. Jeffrey views art, and life, as a series of adventures, obstacles, and mysteries that continuously pique his curiosity. Sometimes our most exciting journeys begin without a destination.
Wolfgang is a Warren native and finds his inspiration in works such as Michelangelo, the dark-worked blacks of Rembrandt’s portraits, the fine charcoal work of J. D. Hillberry, nature studies by Pennsylvania’s own Ned Smith, and the hyper-detail of Laurie Lipton’s pencil masterpieces.
The focus of Wolfgang’s work is realism. He feels portraits allow us to leave an impression on the world, as they have done since the beginning of art. He has spent thousands of hours with his head in books at local libraries, his mother’s bookstore, and Edinboro University where he took some classes about art history, drawing, and color.
Wolfgang enjoys the anatomy, mathematics, scale, creativity, and composition that goes into creating a realistic portrait along with deciphering the textures and dissemination of light that brings his work to life.
After sustaining a significant head injury Wolfgang spent years being limited. He was no longer able to play sports and memory impairments made daily routine tasks nearly impossible. He never felt limited by art.
“I was able to freely roam the chambers of my mind and use paper, canvas, clay, or whatever else to express a brain that seemed all but lost- in reality, I was just exploring the new me,” Wolfgang said in the release. “My head injury made it difficult to communicate with others. Art has blessed me with being an outlet in which I have become able to communicate with others. Art, saved my life.”