Neither standard art descriptors nor derivative comparisons can properly describe Neltje’s work. Curators have suggested that her inspiration has come from Jon Schueler and Joan Mitchell, but as one learns more about this artist it becomes clear that she is quite unique, in both her approach to art and life.
Neltje was born in New York City and raised in style on Long Island and a South Carolina plantation. At the age of 32, as a single mother of two, she moved from Park Avenue to a ranch in Wyoming in the shadows of the Big Horn Mountains. Since then she has become one of the West’s preeminent artists. Like the openness of the West, Neltje likes to do things on a big scale and many of her works are ten to twelve feet wide. She considers herself “an abstract expressionist painter.”
In describing her work she has said “I trust in the unconscious. I strive to make the sensed visible, to balance the interior reality of passion with the external condition of form.” Her paintings are primarily done in acrylics on canvas, but she also combines paper and a variety of other media in collaging some of her works. Her canvases are a rhythmic calypso of color and brushwork.
She also enjoys creating monotypes and explains that “monotypes provide a medium for exploration rather like drawing….and can hold a more intense and pure attitude of an artist than a painting.”
Neltje’s early studies in art were in New York at the New York Studio School and the Art Students League. But the bulk of her growth has come through experimentation and the “ability to see” which she learned from a high school History of Art teacher.
In addition to her paintings and monotypes she has sculpted in wax, cast in bronze and made collages. Her works are in a wide range of museums and private collections including The Smithsonian Institution, the Yellowstone Art Museum, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and Museum and the IBM Corporation, along with solo exhibitions at the University of Wyoming and the University of Montana.
The Kelley Roy Gallery is delighted to host Neltje’s first East Coast solo exhibition featuring a broad selection of her paintings and monotypes.