2018 - Jean Jensen - Postcard FRONT.jpg

about the exhibit

West Nebraska Arts Center, with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, is pleased to present Jean Jensen, Of Wood and Wonder, watercolor, acrylic and many oil paintings depicting animals, flowers, landscapes, etc. and Rex Miller, her brother will be exhibiting three unique art pieces.

Michele Denton, Interim Director, says, “Jean has an eclectic mix of subject matter and lush colors. It’s nice that Jean and her brother, Rex, collaborated and combined her colorful art with his wood working skills.”


Jean Jensen grew up in small town in rural western Nebraska.  Inspired by a mother who encouraged art and a wider worldview, Jean couldn’t wait to move away from Garden County.  Jean first attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, but she soon transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago, where her love of art and the Impressionists grew during many visits to the Chicago Art Institute.  Determined to see the world, she travelled through Europe and visited many of the world’s best art museums, worked on an anthropological dig in Israel, and then moved to Kenya. There, she earned her master’s in sociology at the University of Nairobi. Those years overseas broadened Jean’s perspective as she witnessed the breadth of human cultures.  But even while travelling the African savannas, climbing Kilimanjaro and visiting the Serengeti, Jean recalled her love of the Nebraska prairies.

Traveling allowed Jean to see Western Nebraska with a new perspective and to see the natural, largely untouched beauty of her childhood home. Returning to Nebraska, she began 35-year career as an artist. Mostly, she paints the local images, combining her passion for the region with the aliveness and energy that she experienced in Kenya. She is skilled in watercolor, pastel and oil, using the raw emotive power of brilliant colors to capture the essence of flowers, wildlife, people and landscapes. 

Jean lives near Lewellen, where she and her two brothers are the exhibiting artists and owners of the Most Unlikely Place gallery and café.  The three siblings inspire each other’s work and have jointly improved Main Street with the restoration of an art deco gas station and the State Theater buildings in Lewellen.   Brother, Rex Miller, is making beautiful frames for Jean’s art out of native Nebraska woods. Jean’s work can be seen at www.jeanjensenart.com.


I remember the thrill in second grade of having my fellow students and the teacher impressed that I could draw a grape vine and leaves!  The idea that I could convey an image and make people happy was very exciting to me as a child.  I still love creating an image and getting a reaction from the viewer.  Living in Chicago, I became enamored with the Impressionists during many visits to the Chicago Art Institute.  I hope to capture the energy of my subjects, rather than striving for a literal representation.  I’ve always loved color, and over the years—and through guidance from several instructors—I developed a much better understanding of color theory and began using strong colors.  I want to enhance the boldness of what I see, to capture a little of the magic in my subjects—their soul.  To build my creative and design skills, I do daily meditation followed by random sketches.  Almost like a dream drawing, I select a colored marker that appeals to me in the moment and start drawing lines, never knowing what will emerge.  Some turn out quite spectacular, others less so.  I love the freedom of creating from a part of my mind that is not the intellectual or analytical part, but rather something more from the heart.  My private collection of paintings are based on some of those sketches. 

I love living in rural western Nebraska on our sixty acres of wild land with a little creek and lots of wildlife where I can capture the endless beauty of my flower beds and the natural world around me.

Inspiration for “Of Wood and Wonder”

During the past few years I feel my art has grown to a new level as I worked with my brother, Rex Miller, as he started building frames for my work.  As his frames became more elaborate and experimental, I have worked to create paintings worthy of the frames!  Two examples are “Ode to a Working Man” and “Inner Strength.”  As soon as I saw the rough frame I knew I would paint the cowboy I had photographed at a friend’s branding.  The more elaborate elm frame with lovely corners required something more refined accentuating the diagonal lines.  I searched through my photos and chose one of my daughter from twenty years ago.  We recently put live-edge boards together with paintings and discarded metal for some of the most unusual pieces.

Jean Jensen, Of Wood and Wonder can be viewed August 2nd through 26th. Visit the gallery Tuesday - Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Closed Mondays. Gallery admission is FREE and open to the public. 

special thanks

A special thanks to volunteers Vic Bentley, Vicki Schmitt, Jan Durnin, Mary Hunt, Karen Mecklem, for their assistance in the gallery. And thank you to the North Platte Valley Artist Guild & Questors, Scott's Girls for providing food for the opening reception.

about WNAC

The West Nebraska Arts Center is a 501c3 cultural non-profit organization committed to education, awareness and excellence in the arts, serving the North Platte Valley Region.  WNAC is located at the corner of 1st Avenue and 18th Street in Scottsbluff, NE.  Visit the gallery free of charge Tuesday through Friday 9 to 5, Weekends from 1 to 5.  www.thewnac.com. find us on Facebook.

Sponsored by



The West Nebraska Arts Center is a cultural non-profit organization committed to education, awareness and excellence in the arts, serving the North Platte Valley Region.  WNAC is located at 106 East 18th Street in Scottsbluff, NE.  Visit the Arts Center’s website, www.thewnac.com or find us on Facebook to learn more.  The Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, has supported this program through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.  Visit www.nebraskaartscouncil.org for information on how the Nebraska Arts Council can assist your organization, or how you can support the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.