“My problem is I’m too diversified,” smiled Dutch native Jan Jaspers-Fayer. Eighty-six years young, Jaspers-Fayer still creates, still exhibits and is still interested — in everything.
From bronze-cast sculptures to pencil drawings to anything in glass, Jan finds something that catches his eye and sparks his interest. His palette ranges from charcoal grays to brilliant primary colors. He plays with and refracts light through glass. He notices and celebrates creatures great and small, and cultures that have honored them.
It is that “interest in everything” that feeds Jaspers-Fayer’s art. Visit his Idyllwild home and it is everywhere — indoors and out — metal and glass sculptures marching up his hillside; Native American figures standing silently among metal and glass kokopelli; and brilliantly colored butterflies, many butterflies. “I throw nothing of my art away,” said Jan. A discard from one design, an outline or a mold becomes part of another piece.
Jan is the oldest of 22 Idyllwild artists chosen to paint one of the deer in the outdoor public art installation called “Idyllwild Deer Sightings.” And, of course, his doe, a community favorite, is covered in butterflies — monarchs, painted ladies, big, small, blue, yellow, red and orange. As a child in Holland, Jan was fascinated by the transformation of caterpillars to butterflies. The fascination continues — caterpillars adorn the narrow legs of his doe and grow gradually into butterflies of intricate definition and delight.
Jan’s community involvement is longstanding, whether as an active Rotarian or poster designer for Jazz in the Pines; or as designer of stained-glass church windows, including some for St. Hugh’s Episcopal Church at Fern Valley Corners.
Given that he works in so many, when asked to name his favorite art medium, Jan hesitates, then smiles. “Maybe the favorite is still coming,” he said. He is soft-spoken and has a gentle sense of humor. When one talks with him, it is as if he is imparting little confidences — shared with a wink.
Born in 1929 in Holland, Jan was a young teen when the Nazis invaded. Tall for his age, he said he kept himself inconspicuous on his father’s farm in eastern Holland to avoid being rounded up by the Germans.
“My Dad was a good artist,” said Jan. “I attended the National Academy in Amsterdam and studied art. After the war I was drafted into the Dutch army.” But, as is the case with many artists, work was hard to find. “I began to make a living in industrial design, mostly in lighting and light fixtures.”
After he moved to the United States in 1961, his career in industrial design led to steady commissions and creations of huge chandeliers, featured in major hotels — chandeliers more than 6 feet tall that were manufactured in Taiwan and mainland China. “Five or six times a year, I traveled to China and Taiwan to oversee production,” he said. In the process, he obtained nearly 20 patents for his lighting instruments — backplates, lamp housings, combined ceiling fan motors, housing and blade irons units, and others.
Artist in many media, inventor, Renaissance man, quiet and a quintessential gentleman, Jan is, like his Idyllwild Sculpture Garden, a community resource and treasure.
An Idyllwild resident since 1979, Jan has a current exhibit at the Idyllwild Town Baker. The exhibition will remain through the end of July and features his oils, watercolors, etchings and dry point, sculptures, and bronze, steel and glass art. His ad for the exhibit shows a group of ravens, an “unkindness” of ravens, in black and white formed into a circle. The tag line reads, “This is what Idyllwild is raven about.”
For more about Jan, visit www.idyllwildartandsculpture.com.