After her artist husband’s loss of life, a San Diego widow desires to verify his legacy lives on via his artwork

After her artist husband’s loss of life, a San Diego widow desires to verify his legacy lives on via his artwork

Christoper Elliott might have had a lifelong profession as an engineer, but it surely wasn’t what outlined him. It was how his expertise as an engineer merged, in stunning methods, along with his expertise for artwork.

“Chris was dedicated to his artwork and spent a number of nights per week and sooner or later each weekend portray after work for 40 years,” remembers his spouse, youngsters’s e book writer Cindy Jenson-Elliott.

“He had studios in lots of locations all through the town — in garages in Golden Hill and in Clairemont and OB, in studio skilled areas on Kettner and sixteenth. Some years, he would take day without work to color full-time. Once we began a household, that grew to become harder, however we have been dedicated to residing merely to maintain bills down in order that he may proceed to color as a lot as doable. In truth, certainly one of my marriage ceremony vows was to help him in doing the work that was most vital to him — his artwork.”

Almost three months after her husband handed away on the age of 64 from a uncommon type of most cancers, Jenson-Elliott has made one other vow: hold his inventive legacy alive. That’s why she’s organized a brand new exhibition titled “Superbia: Work by Chris Elliott — A Retrospective, 1985-2022: Panorama and Urbanscapes of a Altering San Diego,” which opens Dec. 17 on the Studio Arts Complicated in Little Italy and continues each Saturday in January via March 2023.

“Final yr, when our youngest son spent a yr in Germany, we grew to become empty-nesters for the primary time, and Chris’ artwork had made leaps and bounds,” Jenson-Elliott remembers. “He made plans to create a web site, have a few of his work professionally scanned, and start to indicate his work. Then, after a lifetime of wholesome residing, Chris started to have abdomen points, and a month later was recognized with neuroendocrine carcinoma, a fast-moving wildfire of a most cancers.

“Seven rounds of chemo helped him really feel loads higher and gave him time to color between rounds and likewise gave our son time to complete up his yr in Germany and are available residence for a summer season along with his dad, and gave our different son time to maneuver to New York Metropolis and get settled,” Jenson-Elliott says. “However after Chris took our youngest son to varsity after the summer season, he was too sick to proceed chemo, and immunotherapy wasn’t efficient in beating again the carcinoma. On Sept. 12, he died with all of us round his mattress.”

Cindy Jenson-Elliott poses in front of her late husband's artwork in Little Italy on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022

Cindy Jenson-Elliott says of her late husband: “Chris was dedicated to his artwork and spent a number of nights per week and sooner or later each weekend portray after work for 40 years.”

(Ana Ramirez/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Chris’ story may have ended there, his oil work tucked away, their voices, in essence, silenced. However Jenson-Elliott and her youngsters had different plans.

“Proper after he died, the lease on his studio got here up for renewal and my sons and I went all the way down to his studio,” she remembers. “We wished the world to see the attractive artwork he had been creating for therefore a few years, standing on avenue corners and in parks in neighborhoods everywhere in the metropolis.”

Chris nonetheless has quite a lot of tales to share, and Jenson-Elliott is doing all the things she will be able to to verify many extra individuals can hear them.

“We’re displaying his artwork within the studio the place he created a few of it — nonetheless lifes and outdated grasp re-creations — and the place he completed his plein-air landscapes,” says Jenson-Elliott, who added that of the almost 100 work within the present, 85 will likely be on the market. “There’s paint on the partitions, easels, and canvases in every single place. As a studio present, we’re displaying an eclectic assortment, organized by neighborhood, positioned everywhere in the excessive partitions so individuals can see the total vary of what he cherished to color.”

Artwork and invention

One of many issues Jenson-Elliott cherished about her husband was how his engineering background discovered its manner into his inventive life. After graduating with a bachelor’s diploma in electrical engineering from the College of Illinois, Chris started portray. On the age of twenty-two, he moved to San Diego to work for Linkabit.

“All through his artistic life, artwork and invention went hand in hand,” Jenson-Elliott says. “As an engineer, he labored for a lot of San Diego tech firms, together with Normal Dynamics Laser Methods, Novatrix, Nuvasive and Volcano/Philips. As an artist and as a father, he grew to become the volunteer technical director of Heart Stage Youngsters’s Theater, the place he taught children to design and create units, props, lighting and sound programs for youth theater. In that function, inventive and engineering problem-solving got here collectively, and our home and the theater have been filled with his creations — a sewn 6-foot snail puppet, a Tyvek peach that might be flipped to indicate the within and outdoors, and a silent, insulated bubble-blowing snow-making field for a snow scene.”

Engineering and artwork weren’t his solely passions: “He was an avid open water swimmer and hiker who cherished being out in nature and plein-air portray in San Diego’s neighborhoods the place he might be seen in a paint-spattered plaid shirt and lifeguard hat standing earlier than a conveyable easel.”

Chris was a longtime scholar of Zen Buddhism, and Jenson-Elliott says that knowledgeable a lot of his artistic soul.

“Portray was a apply of mindfulness and consciousness for him — consciousness of the wonder in our abnormal lives. He selected to color the fantastic thing about the issues we overlook in our quest to be impressed in our fast-paced world: The best way gentle shines on the tree within the car parking zone. The liminal area between two homes. Cookie-cutter Clairemont homes lined up alongside a avenue. He had such a phenomenal appreciation of the small, abnormal wonders of the locations we dwell — the ‘very good in suburbia’ — thus the title of the present, ‘Superbia.’”

It was in San Diego’s suburbia the place Chris discovered a lot happiness. A person along with his canvas, paint and brushes, out within the open air.

“He would undergo phases the place he painted particularly neighborhoods loads — South Mission Seaside, Mission Hills, North Clairemont, North Park and Previous City — so there are work from all of these areas. He cherished our native canyons. Portray exterior was heaven — having the ability to be within the open air doing the factor he cherished most.”

By exhibiting her husband’s work, Jenson-Elliott hopes to share a slice of Chris’ heaven with others.

“I hope Chris’ work assist us open our eyes to the abnormal wonders of the place we dwell,” she says. “The marvel of our lives isn’t on a display screen or on social media. It’s proper in entrance of us — in our streets, in our parks, taking part in and chatting with our neighbors. I hope the present helps individuals cease, breathe and take note of that abnormal marvel of our day-to-day lives.

“Chris was a painter, and painters listen. They’ve to concentrate to essentially see the small print of what’s in entrance of them. Chris spent hours, days, months, and generally years on a portray — generally coming again to a portray a decade later to complete it up. And every go over a murals was one other likelihood to see and recognize what was in entrance of him. I hope individuals viewing the artwork really feel that pleasure and appreciation of what’s extraordinary within the abnormal.”

‘Superbia: Work by Chris Elliott — A Retrospective, 1985-2022: Panorama and Urbanscapes of a Altering San Diego’

When: 11 a.m. to five p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, and each Saturday in January via March or by appointment. E-mail [email protected] or name (858) 334-8294.

The place: Studio Arts Complicated, 2400 Kettner St., Studio 208, Little Italy

Admission: Free

Of Saturday gross sales in January and February, 50 % will profit youth arts organizations that Chris cherished.

Artwork by Chris Elliott, who died of cancer earlier this year

One in every of Christopher Elliott’s work that will likely be featured in a brand new exhibit titled “Superbia: Work by Chris Elliott – A Retrospective, 1985-2022: Panorama and Urbanscapes of a Altering San Diego.”

(Ana Ramirez/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

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