Jami Tobey (born 1974) is an American contemporary painter.
Jami was born in Corvallis, Oregon, and spent most of her childhood in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as one of three children of Toni Williams and Gene Tobey. Her father spent his professional life working as a sculptor best known for stylized animal sculptures with his trademark line drawings incised into the surface. As a child, Jami spent hours in her father’s studio where she was exposed to a variety of styles and sculpting techniques. Jami has said that her father encouraged her to follow her own path as an artist and to paint. By the time she was 14, she had sold her first piece at a Santa Fe art auction. She has said that New Mexican artist Georgia O'Keeffe was an early inspiration. Jami attended Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado where she intended pursue her interest in literature and journalism. During her freshmen year, she entered an oil painting course and decided to double major in English and art. During the next three years, she worked extensively in oils and watercolors, focusing primarily on landscapes. Her formal training in art enabled her to sharpen her craft, master the use of composition, and develop her signature style of intense colors and acrylic ink designed to have a stained-glass glow. After college, Jami married Mitch Kiendra, and the two moved to San Diego, California. One of Jami’s first jobs after college was teaching third-grade. During that time, she would spend evenings painting. “I was the prolific evening painter. I’d come home at night and just paint and paint and paint. In five years, I didn’t produce anything for anyone other than myself. I probably did 200 to 300 paintings. My ultimate goal was to paint professionally and show in galleries.” Motherhood brought more focus to her work. When her son was diagnosed with autism, Jami quit her teaching job to be home with her child. More time at home enabled her to spend more time painting, and she eventually focused primarily on acrylics, a medium known for its vividness and quick-drying capabilities. By 2004, she had obtained her first gallery representation, with Adagio Galleries in Palm Desert, California. Others soon followed, including Exposures International Gallery in Sedona, Arizona and Gallery 822 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. By 2006, Jami was named Southwest Art Magazine’s artist-to-watch. In 2010, she had her first major art exhibition in New York at Amsterdam Whitney Gallery. In 2011, she designed three labels for a series of Mount Palomar winery releases in 2012.
Jami is known primarily for her tree and landscape paintings. Her signature style includes vast skies and swirling clouds. Jami usually has two or three paintings going at once in her home studio in Murrieta, California. Depending on size and complexity, each piece takes anywhere from a few days to two weeks to complete. She begins the process by combing through photos and sketches made during family travels. Jami has said that 50 drawings might lead to 10 paintings. During the painting process, Jami first paints the primary object, be it a mountain, farmhouse or a tree, and then finishes with the foreground. Then she adds her characteristic outlines and dots and swirls and patters with gold ink. During 2011, Jami began experimenting with more abstract works, which were first featured at Adagio Galleries.
Jami’s paintings have been commissioned for public and private collections in the United States and internationally. She currently shows at several galleries, mainly in the southwestern United States. Leanne Goebel, a member of the International Association of Art Critics, said Jami’s tree paintings hearken back to the Art Nouveau style of Gustav Klimt. “What sets Tobey apart is her playful and colorful palette reflecting her roots throughout the American west … More than contemporary pastiche, Jami Tobey creates painted tapestries of light, color and land.” Los Angeles Times art critic Holly Myers says the paintings of Jami Tobey are statements about nature’s deep beauty and the language of color and light. "Borne of equal parts observation and imagination, the paintings of Jami Tobey reverberate --- indeed, almost buzz --- with the dynamic energy of the Western landscape,” Myers said. “Sprawling vistas, billowing cloudscapes, far-flung farm houses, and trees as unique and memorable as old friends, all rendered in her own spirited blend of vivid color and charismatic line."
Jami’s father Gene Tobey died in 2006 at the age of 60. During the last decade of his life, he collaborated with his wife, Jami’s stepmother, Rebecca Tobey, on hundreds of sculptures. The work was typically characterized by a spiritual intensity and a style that was both sophisticated and primal. The work appeared as sleek silhouettes from afar, but when viewed up close revealed a maze if glyphs and symbols. The sgraffito drawings often portrayed other animals, mountain ranges, human figures, symbols and geometric shapes. Jami’s younger brother, Joshua Tobey, is a sculptor.
- Norman Kolpas.Jami Tobey | Magical Landscapes”, p. 24. Southwest Art Magazine, July 27, 2010.
- Jeff Pack.Local artist to show one night only at Temecula winery”, Entertainment and Art, North County Times, September 5, 2007.
- Jeanne Boyer.Vintage Design | Area artists lend their talents to create alluring labels that draw you to Inland Empire wines”, p. 58, Inland Empire Magazine, November 2011.
- Staff.Impressionist artist now featured at Mt. Palomar Winery”, My Valley News, August 12, 2010.