Artist Josee Nadeau riding the wave of creativity
Visual artist Josee Nadeau, who called Park City home for 10 years, is on a new adventure.
The now part-time Parkite, known for being a protégé of Gerald Van der Kemp, the curator-in-chief of Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles and the man known for having kept the Mona Lisa from the Nazis during World War II, recently showed her rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece at a Miami art show that closed on Dec. 8.
At Art Basel Miami, leading galleries from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa show work from the masters of modern and contemporary art, as well as works by a generation of emerging stars.
“The whole town turns into an art mecca,” Nadeau said. “It’s one of the biggest art fairs in the United States, and this particular one takes place on the beach.”
Nadeau decided to show her Mona Lisa, which she painted during Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Waterkeeper Alliance benefit in 2013, because of her connection with the original da Vinci work.
“I wanted to do it because of Van der Kemp,” she said. “But I also wanted to show it because I think every artist has their own creations of the Mona Lisa.”
Nadeau took some liberties with her version, using a lighter, more colorful palette that included hot pinks, oranges, reds and blues.
“I chose these colors because they bring out the Romanticism of the model and create a version for our times,” she said. “I mean, there are a lot of people who enjoy looking at and buying pop art but still appreciate the Impressionist era.”
In addition to the Mona Lisa, Nadeau showcased her contemporary portraits of model Gigi Hadid, actress Grace Kelly, princess of Monaco, and a new version of her “Waterlilies” series that was inspired from her stay at a studio provided by Van der Kemp and his wife, Florence, at Claude Monet’s gardens in France.
“I was excited to be part of the show,” Nadeau said. “I have always attended as a spectator. It’s been an honor and rewarding to be part of it.”
Her works were well-received by a lot of different age groups and cultures, Nadeau said.
“It was fun to show the painting publicly, and to see which audience it attracted,” she said about the Mona Lisa.
There are three different types of people who attend these shows, according to Nadeau.
“You have the serious buyers and people from the art industry,” she said. “Then you also have those people who just want to see the art that is being shown.”
One of the viewers was Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Kweku, whom Nadeau met during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
The two strengthened their friendship when she painted during the Footsteps of Mandela event later that year. The music and art festival held in New York raises money for the United Nations and Simon Estes Foundation’s Nothing but Nets program.
Nothing but Nets is a global fight against malaria, the leading cause of death in African children, Nadeau said.
“I told Kweku that I was in Miami, and he came down from New York to see the works and visit,” she said.
To prepare for the Miami showing, Nadeau attended the Basel show this past summer in Switzerland.
“I wanted to see what was happening there,” she said. “It was important to see what was going on before I decided to show in Miami. It was important for me, especially since I was going to show my own ‘Mona Lisa.’”
While Nadeau is enjoying her time in Miami and a new studio in Europe, she still considers Park City her home.
“I have not left Park City permanently,” she said. “It’s still in my heart, and I still have many belongings there.”
Nadeau’s work also continues to live on in Park City thanks to appearances on the cover of the Local Pages phone directories.
Her paintings of horses, landscapes and Olympians such as Stein Eriksen have graced these covers for the past five years, she said.
“As much as I love electronics, I think there is still a very large number of people who have the book in their drawers,” she said. “These people are like my clientele, and it’s neat to know that my work is in their homes.”
Nadeau, who has painted live during the Park City Kimball Arts Festival, said an acquaintance referred her work to Local Pages, and things took off from there.
“I can’t tell you how I select the works for these covers,” she said. “I just know that I want the paintings to generate memories, interests or (emotions).”
Nadeau, who also painted the skiing portrait of Stein Eriksen at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, said a lot of thought goes into what she decides to paint.
“I will think about painting if I feel close to the subject matter,” she said. “There has to be something that triggers an emotion within myself.”
Her portrait of Stein Eriksen, which is displayed at Deer Valley’s Stein Eriksen Lodge, has been exposed to many international guests. The nine-foot tall portrait of the Norwegian Olympic gold medalist skiing, which can be seen from three floors is on display in what has been named The No. 1 ski lodge in the world, Nadeau said.
Other times the inspiration comes from outside sensory experiences.
“The horses usually come from how I look at the muscle tones of their legs,” she said. “Sometimes a vibration of certain music will inspire me to paint, or if I’m painting a pond, which I am in the middle of now, I think of the wind flapping on the top of the water.”
Since participating in the Miami exhibit, Nadeau just finished two commissions of her “Waterlilies” and is ready to start a few more.
After being surrounded by so much art in Miami, Nadeau said her mind has begun to work differently.
“My future now can be summed up in two words — plenty and distribution,” she said.
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