Art and Life Are One
By Annette Velarde
Park City’s winter sport competitions are supersonic and adrenaline-charged. It’s hard to take in the heart-pounding emotions you experience while watching competitors rocket down slopes at lightning speed, let alone catch it on camera. But recreate it on canvas? Rarely, but yes. Park City artist Josée Nadeau does just that. Her depictions of Olympic athletes are celebrated worldwide because they accomplish what all great art reaches for: to transport you into the experience in such a way that you can feel the wind on your face and hope for athletic glory in your heart.
International artist Josée Nadeau moved to Park City after witnessing first-hand the excitement of the 2002 Olympics. Her sons, Philippe and Nicholas Grant, soon became rooted in the local culture of winter sports. They and their friends grew up together on the slopes. As the 2014 Games neared, they suggested that she use her talents to capture their friend’s Olympic journey on canvas. When Park City threw a parade for the returning Sochi athletes,
Nadeau collaborated with Youth Sports Alliance to create a poster celebrating all the medalists’ achievements. Over 1,000 of these were freely distributed to the parade spectators so their heroes could sign them, providing their fans with a cherished keepsake.
Josée Nadeau was handpicked by the muse at an early age. From parents who believed that life is an adventure of self-expression to masters who pressed her to perfect her skills, Nadeau has been richly blessed in opportunities and talent. Her greatest influence was Gerald Van der Kemp, the noble redeemer and curator of the Palace of Versailles and Monet’s gardens at Giverny, France. It was on the grounds that Monet loved so much that she mastered her talent. “In every image seen with the eye, there is an essence—that unspeakable thing that makes it unique in all the world,” says Nadeau. “It is this life-force that is expressed through my paintings, be it King George, Queen Elizabeth, or Monet’s gardens.” Invited by symphonies, galas, and celebrity receptions around the world, Nadeau will paint a portrait or scene of astonishing size while the audience watches on in wonder. The featured artist at the 2014 International Nelson Mandela Day in New York City, she painted Mandela’s spirit in front of United Nations delegates and international dignitaries while operatic arias were sung by vocal greats. Nadeau’s strokes are bold and modern, but it’s her brilliant use of color that is her signature.