About 15 years ago, longtime Sonoma County painter Jack Stuppin walked into a New York City art gallery, hoping to see the owner. He was in luck. He was greeted by Jeffrey Bergen, president of ACA (American Contemporary Artists,) a leading gallery since 1932.
“He started to talk to me as if I were a potential client,” Stuppin remembers.
After a few minutes Bergen stopped and said, “You’re an artist, aren’t you?” Stuppin admitted it, and asked Bergen how he knew.
Bergen replied, “There’s paint on your eyeglasses.”
From there, Bergen picks up the story:
“Jack asked me, ‘How do I get to show my art here?’ and I said, ‘You have to have some museum shows, and have a significant catalog of your work, so why don’t you come back after you’ve accomplished those things?'” Bergen recalls.
It took awhile, but since then, Stuppin’s work has found its way into the collections of the de Young and Oakland museums, as well as the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento and other museums across the United States. Last year, the San Jose Museum of Art presented a one-man show of Stuppin’s paintings.
“So, 15 years later, Jack walked in the door, and said, ‘Remember me?” Bergen says.
And that’s how Stuppin, now 76, got his first-ever one-man show at a New York gallery. “Jack Stuppin: Songs of the Earth” opens at ACA Galleries on Saturday, March 27, and runs through April 24.
“Within three minutes of actually seeing Jack’s work, I gave him my hand and said, ‘Welcome to ACA.’ The work surprised me. There’s a palpable joy in it, almost an ecstasy,” Bergen said.
This is no small victory for Stuppin. ACA deals with big-name artists like Judy Chicago.
The show includes 29 paintings on canvas, and 14 works on paper, most of them Stuppin’s trademark Sonoma County landscapes, which capture not just what our area looks like, but what it feels like to be here.
If you’re curious, try www.acagalleries.com.