Santa Barbara News-Press
weeks after gracing the red carpet on the opening night of the Santa
Barbara International Film Festival, actress Jane Seymour was back
in the local spotlight.
know her as a Golden Globe winner for her role in the TV show "Dr.
Quinn, Medicine Woman" or numerous other works of stage and
screen over the last 40 years. Lately, her newfound reputation as
an artist is beginning to take precedence. Trumpeted as her "Montecito
Debut," friends and art connoisseurs flocked to Maiani Gallery
to celebrate the opening of Ms. Seymour's art exhibition.
scene outside the new Coast Village Road gallery made it evident
that this was no run-of-the-mill affair. In a light drizzle, a small
crew of photographers awaited the artist's arrival.
out of the first limousine was a woman dressed in an outfit fitting
of African royalty. Ola Washington, an African studies professor
at Ventura College, has been closely following Ms. Seymour's career
arc. "We're so happy she's vibrant right now," she said.
"I've been through hardships myself so I identify with her.
She's such a beautiful spirit."
artist made her entrance minutes later, emerging from a limousine
in a red dress. She walked up a short red carpet leading to the
gallery. Other local celebrities expected to attend included Jane
Russell, Jonathan Winters and Dennis Franz.
Seymour only began painting in 1993 and has already earned acclaim
for her work with oils, pastels, watercolors and bronze sculpture.
A motif featuring "open hearts" has become her signature
design and the inspiration for a line of jewelry for Kay Jewelers.
She has been one of the official painters for the last three Olympic
Games. Her piece, "Snowy Open Hearts II -- Vancouver 2010 Compete
with an Open Heart" was selected by the International Olympic
Committee to represent U.S. athletes.
of one of the gallery walls was dedicated to working studies for
the Vancouver design. Four small open heart sculptures were perched
of the three brothers who run the gallery, Patrick Maiani, noticed
the open hearts design in the Kay Jewelers TV commercials starring
the actress. "I knew what she was doing," he said. "She
was creating this icon that was this whole new way of opening up
your heart. It was a flash of inspiration for everybody."
gallery, which just opened in November, wanted to follow up a successful
show featuring the work of Mr. Winters with another celebrity artist.
Maiani didn't realize the depth of Ms. Seymour's art until he spoke
to her mentor, Tom Mielko.
going to be huge," Mr. Maiani predicted. "She's one of
the biggest artists in America right now, so we're stoked to have
room filled up so fast that some people were left waiting at the
door in order not to violate fire codes. Guests mingled while sipping
wine from Jettlyn Winery and munching on gourmet hors d'oeuvres
from Grace Catering. People gazed intently at the paintings while
discussing their merits. Many were vividly-colored floral studies
which appeared almost three-dimensional. A portrait of the artist
in her English garden offered a personal touch.
security guards hovered in the wings while Ms. Seymour greeted one
admirer after the other. She posed for hundreds of photographs,
signed copies of her books and the backs of paintings which had
wonderful," Ms. Seymour told the News-Press. "I'm bumping
into all kinds of friends who I knew when I used to live around
the corner from here, including Tom Mielko who taught me how to
paint. He hasn't seen all this so he doesn't know how I took off
and what a gift he gave me, so it's really been a lot of fun. A
lot of my friends from here know I go away and do art shows all
the time, but they've never actually seen one before and it's nice
because they know now what I do."
for Mr. Mielko, Ms. Seymour said she approached him at his booth
at an event in Montecito and asked him if he would teach her how
to watercolor. He pointed to a painting at the front of the room
of a lone rowboat anchored off a Nantucket beach. It was the first
one the two worked on together.
am so happy for her, you have no idea," he exclaimed. "She
was going through a very rough time in her life. This was, in a
way, therapy for both her and I. We had so many laughs." After
Ms. Seymour moved to Malibu around 1997, the two remained in touch
but haven't seen each other in three years.
is great to see what she's done," he said. "She went in
her own direction and it's a testimony to her loving to paint. She
loves to paint and it doesn't make any difference what style. She
just likes to explore different avenues and you can see in the results
they're just fabulous."
Art of Jane Seymour" runs through March 4 at the Maiani Gallery.
Call 969-0300 or go to www.maianigallery.com for more information.