For as long as artist Jamie Pettis has been painting, she has focused primarily on portraiture. But as her forthcoming exhibit at DNA Galleries, Growing Cities, demonstrates, Pettis has become as interested in the aesthetics of metropolitan skylines as she is in the contours of her subjects’ faces.
“Recently, it was suggested to me to bring something else into my work, rather than just faces,” she said. “So my upcoming show is an incorporation of city skylines with those faces.”
Despite residing in another state, Pettis, who is Holdenville-born and Phoenix-based, said her mind keeps wandering back to Oklahoma.
“I moved to Phoenix four or five years ago to be with my girlfriend,” she said. “And I moved during a period when Oklahoma City was starting to experience that cultural-artistic-economic growth, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Pettis has pursued various disciplines, but painting has been her most sustained and successful pursuit as of late.
“Off and on for most of my life, I’ve either done sports or something creative,” she said. “I’ve always been obsessed with acting and music and art, and I could never really make up my mind exactly what I wanted to put my full-time focus into.”
Her family — including her father Clay, an attorney who is also an artist — nurtured her pursuits early on.
“My dad had this art studio in downtown Holdenville, which isn’t like Oklahoma City; it’s like a small, early-1900s-era downtown area,” she said. “Every Saturday, he used to take us down there and paint. He used oil pastels, and I watched him do that, and I just kind of picked it up from him.”
Pettis majored in fashion design at Oklahoma State University, where she said she “hem-hawwed” around, trying to find a job and major to give her security while also following her dreams.
“I don’t recommend ever doing that. If you know what you want to do, just go for it full-blown; major in it,” she said. “What happened with me is I did the fashion design thing and I actually got a great opportunity within it; I had an internship with Marc Jacobs in New York City and learned a lot of stuff there. And I actually got a lot of artistic influence in the fashion world, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
She ended up moving to Los Angeles and pursuing acting for a while, which is something she said she wants to go back to, and eventually began painting full-time.
With Growing Cities, Pettis will have the chance to show off the culmination of that work in addition to the love she still has for her home state.
“I’m over here, and I’m painting, and I’m thinking about our city a lot,” she said. “I found myself channeling this love for home through these cities.”
Pettis’ show starts Friday during Live on the Plaza. It’s her second show at DNA Galleries and her fifth showing in Oklahoma.
7-11p.m. Friday. Through Feb. 9
1709 NW 16th St.
Print headline: Faces and places, An Oklahoma native returns home for her art show at DNA Galleries.