Local Terroir

Our upcoming September exhibition features Matthew Swanson, a locally based artist who works in paint and mixed media. In his newest body of work, he explores the solitude of Covid-19 in his abstracted landscapes often exploring the view from his home and surrounding area in Holland. Swanson grew up in West Michigan.


As a child he spent his days exploring the woods near his home, learning from his Naturalist mother the names of trees, birds, creatures in the pond and the edible plants growing on the forest floor. The area was rural and Swanson spent his teenage summers working on local farms. When he left home for school he thought he would teach and initially began studying American Literature, but his focus quickly shifted and he joined the art department to pursue Studio Art as his major. During school he began working in restaurants, taking on several roles in both the kitchen and front of house. While there, wine eduction was part of his training. This planted a seed that would be cultivated over the years before eventually coming to  the J. Petter Galleries in 2016 as the in-house wine expert. Swanson’s love of wine continued to grow as he further discovered its history, art, and terroir. Terroir is a French term without a direct English translation which is used to describe the environmental factors that affect character. For Swanson his personal terroir comes from the climate, the soil, the terrain, and the tradition of Michigan. The natural world he has immersed himself in for the past 59 years has formed him into the artist he is today.


Matthew Swanson considers himself to be a Naturalist painter with Postmodern influences and primarily a student of those who came before him. He follows a line that begins with Cézanne and ends with the California Landscape School. Along the way his work sees traces of Kandinsky, the Fauves, Matisse, Marin, Diebenkorn, and Hockney. Though not necessarily recognizable, all of his paintings are landscapes. His collages are used to bring smaller landscapes into a larger format, helping to simplify the forms and freeing him from the trap of ‘local color’. Swansons work is improvisational. He starts with an idea fragment and allows it to take its own path. Along the way he becomes a problem solver, wrangling the ideas back into some kind of ‘form’ hoping at the end of the process to have found a convincing object. When asked about his work, Swanson referenced a story of an early American Modernist painter named John Marin. In the story, Marin’s response when told what beautiful abstractions of the sea he had made was that the painting is not an abstraction, it is the sea. This idea has affected Swanson’s work and his position on the crafted image versus the crafted object. He prefers the painting stand alone rather than being defined by its subject matter. He liked to think of his pieces as a kind of musical expression with movement, syncopation and popping color.


Matthew Swanson’s work can be found in private and corporate collections including Herman Miller, Steelcase, and Holland Hospital. With such a large gallery we are able to exhibit works from all of our represented artists and the variety of artistic styles housed within will reach anyone from the serious collector and designer to the casual art and wine enthusiast. The art and wine team are simultaneously knowledgeable and welcoming to all.



For more information about J. Petter Galleries, visit www.JPetterGalleries.com

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