“The mood and spirit set by Wendy Jane Bantam’s blithe and fanciful paintings is a whimsical mix of dream imagery, antrhopomorphism and a Saul Steinberg~like abstraction. The gardens and forests and summer lanes depicted in her portraits are filled with both the expected and the unexpected, in landscapes that are contrarily terrestrial and aquatic (and often hypnotically alien). Katydids, candy-striped dragonflies, and June bugs with dramatic antennae flit about unconcerned in stormy weather. Birds exchange gossip, their eyes wide with curiosity or a-squint with skepticism. Cats and dogs pose, in elegant sofas, wearing their best shoes and hats. With an eye toward classic children’s book illustration of the 1960s and 70s, and the imaginations of children themselves, Bantam creates a menagerie of knowing beasts and contemplative insects, weaving wit, mystery, and cockeyed optimism.”
~Timothy Schaffert, author of “Coffins of Little Hope” and “Devils in the Sugar Shop” The New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.
“Wendy Jane Bantam is a Nebraska native and a graduate of the University of Kansas and the University of Nebraska Lincoln. . Traveling nationally and internationally through artist residencies and teaching programs in the arts with the Kennedy Center, she has based her home studio in Nebraska for the past 21 years.
Paint is densely applied and manipulated not only with loose brush strokes, but pushed with a palette knife, giving a thick and creamy texture that reveals Bantam’s strong interest in and celebration of the snesuous process of painting. The dynamism, energy, and sensuality in Bantam’s paintings are revealed not only by her densely applied surface, but through an intense color palette that bears the influence of such Bay Area painters as Wayne Thiebaud and David Park, and which is buttressed by her extended travels to Indonesia and Europe.
The expressionist formal chracteristics of her painting do not obscure the symbolic content of her narrative compositions. Bantam transforms quite ordinary and prosaic scenese derived initially from her own experience into highly~charged symbolic narratives through her highly indiosyncratic drawing style that suggests the influnce of the sophisticated “naivete” prevalent in the twentieth ~century aesthetic tradition.
Bantam’s compositions, direct detailed aesthetic attention to peculiar objects are best interpreted within a symbolist tradition that consists of the Flemish masters of the fifteenth century, the British Pre~Raphaelites of the nineteenth century , and the French painters Henri Rousseau, Puvis de Chavannes, and Vincent van Gogh. Artists working within this aesthetic tradition have invested the objects of the world with deep spiritual and
even occult meaning. Although her work is inherently narrative, it has become more abstract and symbolic as she parallels the cultural similarities of her upbringing in the Nebraska Sandhills with her travels abroad. “
~~Daniel A. Siedell (Art Historian and Previous Curator to the Sheldon Museum, Writer to Enrique Martínez Celaya at Whale and Star Studio/Miami)