Jane Ann Kantor: Exploring impermanence through art

Courtesy photo
Charlotte artist and school nurse Jane Ann Kantor uses photographs, plexiglass, steel and other items in her painting. She often creates a series devoted to a particular subject matter, like her neighbor’s blind horse or a work centered around cow skulls and abandoned bird nests.

PHYL NEWBECK

In 2010, Jane Ann Kantor summoned up her courage and showed some of her artwork at the annual South End Art Hop. She sold every single one of the paintings displayed at Anjou and the Little Pear and that helped her make the decision to set up an art practice, specializing in mixed media.

“I’ve always dabbled in art,” the 52-year-old Charlotte resident recalled.

Her parents were both medical professionals but they appreciated art and took her on family trips to museums in Philadelphia and New York City.

“My mother became ill and passed away eight years ago,” Kantor said “and she told me she had some regrets. I took that to heart and decided I wanted to explore my love of the arts more. Beginning a practice takes a lot of courage, commitment and effort.”

Selling her paintings at the Art Hop lit a fire for Kantor.

“That was totally unexpected and exciting,” she said. “As an artist you are really vulnerable, putting yourself out there for everyone to see.”

After the successful exhibit, she set up a studio in her basement with the goal of spending time there every day, whether it was just for five minutes or as much as two hours.

“It’s a very meditative process,” she said “and it’s very cathartic. Whatever I’m thinking or feeling comes out in my work.”

Kantor moved to Vermont in 1990 after graduating from nursing school. She and her husband lived at the Mt. Philo Inn before buying land and building their Charlotte home. Kantor has worked as a registered nurse for almost 30 years, first at University of Vermont Medical Center where she spent time in the obstetrics ward, and now as the school nurse at Rice Memorial High School.

“In my personal and professional life, I have experienced the constant tension between life and death,” she said. “I’ve helped people come into this world and helped people leave it. As my art became more mature, I was able to be more thoughtful and I realized that it is all coming from exploration of the concept of impermanence.”

A self-taught artist, Kantor constantly experiments with different materials.

“It’s too exciting and too much fun not to explore other media,” she said.

She often creates a series devoted to a particular subject matter like her “Equus” grouping which focused on a neighbor’s blind horse and “Raw,” which was her first work to include her photography and centered around cow skulls and abandoned bird nests.

“I quilted an entire wall with those paintings at Art Hop,” Kantor said. “That was when I felt I was stepping into myself. It was an essay on grief and the relentless tension between life and death.”

Lately, Kantor has been working on a series called Preservation of Urban Detritus which involves photographs, plasma cut steel and plexiglass.

“Raw steel will rust when exposed to the elements,” she explained “while plexiglass is shiny with polished edges. I love the way they communicate with each other.”

This series will be part of a group showing at the Furchgott Sourdiff Gallery in Shelburne. The opening reception is June 14.

Kantor realizes some people may question the fact that her subject matter doesn’t always fit the traditional definition of beauty.

“For me, it’s not always about pretty flowers,” she said, “but what has happened to me and who I am today.”

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