Debra Joy Groesser is an effusive supporter of the arts. In fact, that is likely an understatement. So what does the Nebraska artist look for when adding to her art collection?
Groesser, the president of the American Impressionist Society, has a large collection. She hates talking about just three of her pieces, but when pressed, agrees to try to do so. Although the three paintings she mentions come from artists she admires, their role in her life is not primarily one of instruction. “All three of these artists are dear friends of mine now,” says Groesser. “Having them in our home, it’s like having them here with us. My husband knows them all and enjoys them as well, so it’s nice to have them around.”
“The first one we collected is by Kevin Macpherson,” Groesser says. “It’s a demo he did in a 1999 workshop I attended in Bermuda. It’s a really cool scene of St. George’s Harbour. I learned so much from him on that trip. I look at this every day. I have learned so much from it, but it’s a really a beautiful piece, and that’s the main thing.”
“At Rest,” by Becky Joy, oil, 9 x 12 in. Collection of Debra Joy Groesser
The next piece we discussed is by a good friend of Groesser’s and a fellow officer in the American Impressionist Society, Becky Joy. “We have been friends for more than six years,” Groesser says. “We met on Facebook, and I asked if I could paint with her in Scottsdale during an OPA convention. When we were out there, we found that we enjoyed painting the same thing: old trucks. Then later, at the Sedona Plein Air Festival, a couple of our paintings didn’t sell and so we traded — we had talked about doing that for a long time. So it was an old trucks swap! It reminds us both of how our friendship started, painting old trucks.”
“Lake O’Hara,” by Kenn Backhaus, oil, 11 x 14 in. Collection of Debra Joy Groesser
The last piece has history, and has personal importance to Groesser. It’s a painting of Lake O’Hara in Canada. Groesser points out that Carl Rungius and John Singer Sargent both painted similar scenes at Lake O’Hara. Groesser’s painting is by Kenn Backhaus. “He did an amazing piece with a gorgeous range of grays in it,” says Groesser. “It’s an incredible scene, with mountains rising straight up out of the lake.” Groesser sees signs of her deceased parents in nature, and in this case, as she watched Backhaus paint Lake O’Hara, she saw a butterfly land on his easel. “My mom had always wanted to go up there and never got to before she died,” says the artist. “Backhaus was painting right beside me when it happened. I look at that painting every day and I get emotional.”
“The Promise,” by Debra Joy Groesser, oil on linen, 10 x 20 in. Collection of the artist
Groesser says she still learns things from that piece, but it’s clear that with that painting, and with the other two, the primary impact is on her heart.