(Above: A Single Tree, a recent acrylic on canvas painting by Jon Jay Cruson, whose work is on display at the White Lotus Gallery in downtown Eugene.)

Posted by Randi Bjornstad

The White Lotus Gallery’s latest exhibition features works by one of its represented artists, Jon Jay Cruson, whom they describe in announcing the show as “one of the most celebrated Pacific Northwest artists who has made a living at what he loves most.”

Cruson knew early on that art was meant to be not just a pastime but a career. He graduated with honors from the University of Oregon in 1967 with a master of fine arts degree, after which he taught at the UO, at Treasure Valley Community College in Eastern Oregon, and at Oregon State University.

Just a few years later, in 1971, he left teaching in order to pursue a career as a full-time artist, assisted by a two-year residency grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment of the Arts.

It worked. His art is part of many public and private collections throughout Oregon as well as internationally, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, aka V&A, in London, England.

A series of his instantly recognizable landscape paintings adorns the walls of the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse in downtown Eugene.

Here’s how Cruson describes his career and his creative approach:

Overview No. 35 is another example of the color and shape that characterizes Cruson’s recent work.

Over the past 50-plus years, my interest has taken my work in different directions in printmaking, drawing, and painting. Images (and) subjects have varied. More recently, I have made many short trips to Northeastern Oregon, Southeastern Washington, and Northern California. There I rediscovered the vast spaces, clear skies, and landscapes of my childhood. They exhilarate, inspire, and liberate me. In the open country, the patterns, shapes, and colors, they are all there. Back in the studio, it all comes together with the play of the elements, transferring, assembling, and incorporating them in their own particular way.

That is not to say his work has been static throughout his career. His later more geometric works with their almost “birdseye” view of the landscape contrast with many of his earlier works — paintings and lithographs — that seem to have been created much more in the midst of the scene than removed from it.

Likewise, his subjects have evolved along with his vision and experience, starting with drawings in the 1970s that included subjects such as children; light studies of homes, farmhouses, and Victorian buildings; and paintings of ocean waves, rivers, and streams. The trajectory of his artistic career can be seen at jonjaycruson.weebly.com.

Cruson describes his more recent fascination with the larger landscape as finding “a sense of freedom” as he drives along, stopping occasionally to make sketches that “play with perspective — lateral, aerial, and stacked — and with the rich, warm colors of the land” that end up in paintings that are sometimes actual and other times imaginary.

Contemplate: New Works by Jon Jay Cruson

When: Through May 20, 2023

Where: White Lotus Gallery, 767 Willamette St., Eugene

Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Information: 541-345-3276, wlotus.com


An earlier painting by Jon Jay Cruson clearly shows the evolution in his style through the decades.