Current and coming: A tenacious impressionist at the Norton

Sarah Bilotta Exhibitions

By the Water by Jane Peterson (1876–1965), before 1930. Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida, gift of Martin Horwitz, © Jane Peterson.

The Norton Museum of Art’s ode to Jane Peterson is a long overdue celebration of a remarkable artist. The compact exhibition features eight oils and watercolors from the museum’s permanent collection. Jane Peterson: Impressions of Light and Water highlights her love of places: the sunny beaches of southeastern Florida; the sparkling waterways of Venice. But life wasn’t always a grand tour for Peterson. Though her oeuvre shimmers with cosmopolitan joie de vivre, her beginnings were humble—she was the daughter of a jeweler and left home for school with a loan of three hundred dollars to cover her first semester. Her admittance into the upper echelons of the world of the fine arts was hard won. With the deck stacked against her, Peterson sought success in the Pratt Institute art program in Brooklyn and, after graduating, bounced from teaching job to teaching job in public schools around New York. But her art instructors, classmates, and peers never forgot her. She stayed active in artist communities and met many collectors and other creative types with whom she was able to travel, paint, and survive as an artist. Peterson’s resilience reverberates through Jane Peterson: Impressions of Light and Water. Motifs of palm trees and expansive seascapes mirror the ambitiousness of their creator, and give us cause to admire the tenacity of a turn-of-the-century woman artist.

Jane Peterson: Impressions of Light and Water • Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida • to August 14 •