She Tried To Hide The Lizards In Her Hair, 2010, Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches


She Listened to the Bird Sing Until Bees Came Out of Its Mouth, 2011, Acrylic on canvas,
40 x 30 inches


She Was Protected By Her Soldiers, 2010, Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches


Women In Piles Of Wood Waiting To Burn, 2010, Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 inches


Girl with the Black Mask in the Red Room, 2005,
Acrylic on canvas in a handmade unique metal frame, 35 x 34 inches


Girl with the Small Horns in the Red Room, 2005
Acrylic on canvas, 28 x 34 inches


She Hears the Girls Whispering, 2008
Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Haunted by the Girls Who Slept Here Before, 2006
Acrylic on canvas, 69 x 44 inches



Hiding Her Spiderweb Hair Before it Covers Her Face, 2007
Acrylic on canvas, 38 x 28 inches


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< about Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk

Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk
Curious Sanctuary

January 29 - March 19, 2011

Woodward Gallery welcomes Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk’s “Curious Sanctuary” from January 29 - March 19, 2011. A brilliant painter who seemingly channels the late 19th century, Van Ouwerkerk’s women are intriguing and complicated. Her characters show their personal state of being and engage in ritualistic scenes carried out in special places. They push the acceptable boundaries of a time long ago - or perhaps even today - and tempt us to become voyeurs.

This body of work is a view into these women’s private day-to-day existence. “My paintings are not intended to be fantasies; everything is actually as you see it.” One woman thinks she hears women whispering above her in a cavernous room. The women are real as far as the subject is concerned.

Sanctuaries are private places not meant to be seen by the public. If you could see in, like an invisible voyeur, everything would appear surprising, not easily understood. Very formal and exactly what you would expect on the outside - a woman poses in her nightgown and new hat, yet behind closed doors, her nightgown is slightly open and you catch a glimpse of her body made of moths.

The images are unexpected at first glance. You are looking into someone’s room or looking at a moment in her life without a back story. By not analyzing what she is thinking, you accept everything as real. The painting of women gathering at piles of wood while one gets ready to be set on fire, is not necessarily terrifying as no one seems to be frightened. There is calm resignation on the face of the woman in the foreground in that very moment the character looks outward.

Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk’s characters are seen for the one frame of their story. Her vision broadens our reference for normal. We follow marvelously entranced in their personal and curious situations.

Recent features on Curious Sanctuary
in The Dance Insider and

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