HMPC Gallery - January Artist 

Biography. Gail Jeffer (1944 - 2010)

Gail was born in Wyckoff, New Jersey on May 8, 1944, just one year before the celebrated end of WWII.  Her childhood was filled with pleasant experiences that are related to her upbringing in this upper middle class community.  At that time, Wyckoff still had many farms and woodland yet was not far from New York City, a world, cultural capitol.  Her father, a successful architect, went to great lengths to encourage his daughter in developing her artistic talent. The fledgling artist was sixteen when she received her first commission to paint a group of horses. The request came from one of her father's top clients.  The sale of the work went far to bolster her self esteem.  More importantly, it helped to encourage her professionalism.

During her final high school years she produced a variety of art works to be included in her portfolio.  After graduation she submitted samples of her art work to a review board which admitted her as a full time student to the Ridgewood Art Institute. She spent long hours honing her skills.  As she matured, she applied her newly learned techniques and painting methods as a tool for developing her animal subjects.  Progressively, the approach to her subject matter became more sophisticated.

Over the years the artist was gaining a measure of success, yet she maintained a close relationship to her former teacher, Arthur Maynard(1920-1991).  Maynard was influenced by his mentor, Frank Dumond (1865-1951), a painter and teacher at the Art Students League in New York City.  Arthur Maynard also taught at the League but then late became the founder of the Ridgewood Art Institute. There he coached his students in the methods and painting philosophy that he learned from Dumond.

Gail was finding her own directions.  When starting a new work she would select different animals as her feature subject.  She succeeded to capture the form and personality of various creatures in their natural habitat. At one point, Gail remodeled an old farm house located in the rural Ramapo mountains of Northern New Jersey where she assembled a group of animals to occupy he grounds.  Despite warnings from local game wardens, she lived with a very large Montana mountain lion that she affectionately named Sabrina.

In 1991, Gail Jeffer was appointed the official artist of the United States Equestrian Team. After being given such an honor, one of Gail's best equine paintings was selected as the Poster image for the US Equestrian Team's  appearance at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain the following year.

The artist's subjects were carefully chosen and well drawn.  She made it a habit to observe her models first hand.  Gail was very much like a contemporary Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899), who was a renowned wild life artist long before it was customary for women artists to paint such wild subjects and in such bold measures.  Like Rosa, Gail was always sketching and taking photos of wildlife as her boldly executed canvases garnered many prizes and awards.  She was popular with many animal groups as she was adept and rendering race horses, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, lions, and many other species of wildlife.

The adventurous woman artist was invited to Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, by invitation of the Wildlife & Habitat Artist Trust.  In Zimbabwe, Jeffer endured a number of hardships related to surviving in the area for over two months.  After a long flight she was guided to a vast tract of untamed wilderness.  Gail was situated on a Buffalo Range near Gonarezhou National Park. Her sparse accommodations included a round hut complete with a straw roof along with minimal bathroom facilities.  "In the early morning hungry lions and leopards were on the prowl" Gail remarked.  She adapted well to the primitive habitat.  At this point a lifelong dream was realized. She was able to set her pallet and excitedly paint the wilds of Africa,

Written and compiled by Jim Kiely from information gathered from Werner Schmidt.
Edited by Mary Guidetti-McColl
HMPC January Artist


Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 3:00pm, and Saturday by appointment. Sunday Worship is at 10:00am to11:30pm followed by Hospitality and fellowship at 12:00pm.

 



 





 
 
 





 

 

Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417, 201-891-0511, pcflmgr@yahoo.com, pcfl.org. 
Hours are M-F 9AM-3PM, Saturdays, 9:30-11AM.