that painting is what I was meant to do, and that my ability to express
myself through it is stronger than ever... there is always a certain
moment that arises with each painting, when something magic seems to
happen... it's a mysterious thing and difficult for me to explain, but
it's at that moment I know the piece is finished, and I can let it go.
life reads something like a novel. An ageless and iconoclastic spirit,
with an infectious laugh and unstoppable zest for life, Geri is the sort
of person who literally lights
up any room she enters. She is like a bright star.
Raised primarily by her mother, a gifted painter and dress shop owner, Geri's childhood universe spanned from the indoor world of her mother's art studio and the classes taught there, to the dress shop filled with elegance and fine design, to the wildly untamed outdoors of the Pacific Northwest woods that surrounded their home. Her father, a butcher by trade, was an avid hunter and fisherman, who also had a talent for cultivating varieties of flowers for exhibitions. He often took Geri and her brothers on camping trips, and passed his love of the natural world on to her. In the end, the divorce of Geri's parents served her creativity in unexpected ways, as loneliness became her familiar companion.
I learned to entertain myself very well! Everything seemed magical and could be played with, and crafted, and formed into something new... I'd cut down branches from the woods and bring them inside to decorate my room every Sunday. I remember how happy I was always making new things... changing and recreating the space in my room again and again... I was lucky to grow up in a highly creative environment.
Geri began to develop an appreciation of beauty and aesthetics at an early age. This connection to creativity was not destined to be just a childhood pastime, or a phase that would fade into the background. Working in her mother's dress shop, she began to hone her design skills, and, by high school, she was skillfully producing costumes and sets for the school theatre. Always happiest while engaged in many things at once (as she still is), and never one to exist 'behind the scenes', Geri discovered her singing voice, and began a disciplined practice through lessons, school performances and operettas, and solo singing competitions. She was also a member of The Triple Tones, with whom she frequently performed for the troops at Fort Lewis.
Around this time, another opportunity presented itself, one that would powerfully shape the direction of her life for years to come.
I started modeling when I was a teenager... it took on an incredible momentum almost
immediately. The agency I worked with placed me with specific companies and designers.
I was also entering many talent competitions. By the time I started at the University
of Washington, the modeling opportunities were becoming frequent and significant... of
course it allowed to make some real money, I couldn't ignore that. But, it meant I was out
on the road constantly... I read a lot, I painted a lot, I always kept a journal, those things
helped me stay grounded. There was no time for a boyfriend, and I was not very interested
in that anyway, there was so much else I was focused on...
As the modeling opportunities grew, so did the range of their international locations, which introduced Geri to her passion for travel. She worked personally with Rose Maire Reed and Emilio Pucci, and appeared in high profile publications including Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, and Sports Illustrated. Meanwhile, her ongoing participation in U.S. talent competitions won her the title of Miss Washington, which took her to Atlantic City for the 1953 Miss America Pageant.
From the outside looking in, Geri's life appeared to radiate excitement and celebrity in the growing limelight. But, the reality from the inside of that world was not quite so rosy.
Modeling was definitely not my passion... it gave me enormous independence, but most of it I could not stand... yes, there were compromises... I hated being treated like an object to be showed off, being scrutinized for how I looked all the time. The Miss America Pageant was extremely stressful. Maybe it's different today, but back then we were always being harassed by men and 'stalked', to the point where a simple trip to the bathroom would require a police escort... It was ridiculous!
In spite of the downsides, those years of travel while modeling awoke in Geri an unquenchable desire to get on the road and see the world. To this day she is the consummate explorer, and has spent significant time in Europe, South America and China. And, she always travels with just one small black backpack, even if on the road for weeks at a time.
I can't imagine a life without travel! I need to escape frequently, even if it's just to drive a few hours away to visit a special spot. I gain new ideas and fresh perspectives from the landscapes of places that are not part of my day-to-day, whether from cities or countryside... it connects me to such a vital source of my inspiration... I always carried sketchbooks with me during those early years... small books that I constantly drew in to capture memories and moments... I was not focused on my painting at that time, but now when I look at those sketchbooks I see that I was very actively 'taking notes' for later on...
In the early
1960's, work and family influences brought Geri to Los Angeles, where
she would spend the better part of the next two decades. This period of time ushered
in a new evolution for her expression as an artist. Being in LA allowed for access to
some of her primary teachers and influences, and led to pivotal collaborations with
other artists. She attended classes in the private studios of Arnold Mesches and
Richard Diebenkorn. With a group of seven other painters, she opened 'Studio Eight'
where they curated monthly showings.
One of my most influential teachers in LA was an extraordinary woman, Bookie
Silberman. Bookie opened my eyes to the world of color in a way that no one else had and taught me to recognize the vibrations of one color next to other... She taught me every aspect of Pierre Bonnard's painting, which I adopted and evolved as my own... I also became very influenced by Julian Schnabel and Joan Mitchell… To this day, Joan’s work connects me with a sense of my 'source' and 'spirit'... that is what I want my paintings to do, to make people feel a connection to themselves. I want my work to inspire people to feel their spirit.
The influence and inspiration gained from other artists would leave an indelible mark on Geri's own artistic development. This reached a certain peak in the mid 1960's, when her love of travel lead Geri to her most profound influence.
It was at this time that Geri took her first trip to Giverny, Monet's garden in France.
I completely fell in love with Monet on that first trip... the design of the landscape at
Giverny, the flowers, the colors, it was incredibly stunning. I came home loaded with
photographs and sketches... I started drawing and painting Giverny then, and have
never stopped since... I have hundreds of small drawings and paintings of that place...
over the years I have created an ongoing series of large-scale pieces, inspired by
Giverny, but, I've never painted a single water lily!
After almost twenty years of living in the bubbling urban melting pot of LA, despite being surround by a bounty of artistic influences, as well as the frequent opportunities for travel, Geri began to grow restless for change. The Pacific Northwest was calling her back home. So, when a chance to move back there arose in the late 1970's the decision was easy.
It was when she returned to Washington's dramatic Olympic Peninsula that Geri's career as an artist began to birth into a new form. She had the great fortune to collaborate with yet another gifted artist: architect Sydney Drasnin, head draftsman for Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. With Drasnin's expertise, she built her studio, inspired by Monet's studio in Paris. The gardens of Giverny influenced Geri's landscaping of the surrounding lush environs. Inspired and back home at last, she began to create her best work yet.
It's as if a deeper more thoughtful soul has emerged in me since I moved back home... the time I spend in my studio is so nourishing... I wake up at 5am every morning, take a walk along the beach, and then I go straight into the studio. The first thing I work on is one of my 'Morning Arias'. These are named after my love of singing and opera... they are like liquid florals, I take my inspiration for them from huge bouquets of flowers that I gather... the Arias are a vital part of my morning mediation... through them I paint the joy of life...
Geri Lindsey's work can be found in public and private collections across North America, including New York, Sun Valley, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and also in international collections in Europe and Japan.