Jan Fontecchio


Jan Fontecchio was raised on a horse ranch in the low desert, growing up on horseback. She spent her childhood riding in the wilds of the washes and hills, where her interest in wildlife and western life began. As she’s naturally an artist, these are the scenes that inspired her first drawings…and her first sculpture; a rearing horse made entirely of baling wire. “Baling wire was always in plentiful supply” she says.

“I’ve done art since my first memory,” Fontecchio says. “My parents say I drew a three-dimensional wedge of cheese when I was three. I don’t remember that, but my book covers at school were covered in sketches. A pencil was always in my hand, and if the teacher didn’t grab my tests quickly enough, there might be a little horse drawn in the corner of the paper.”

When Fontecchio was ten, a family friend who worked as an artist for Disney drew a horse portrait in charcoal for her. “I think it took him two minutes or something. That little demo solidified my desire to be an artist. It changed my life.”

While earning a degree in fine art, Fontecchio worked at California wild animal and big cat rescues, including the Wildlife Way Station, a non-profit sanctuary that houses, cares for and rehabilitates more than 77,000 wild animals purchased as pets or performers and eventually surrendered by the owners.; and the Shambala Preserve, (where she’s pictured with Boomer, below) which provides sanctuary to felines in similar situations.

Later, while working as a craftsman at Six Flags in Los Angeles, Fontecchio befriended one of the dolphin trainers, who helped her get hired as the trainer’s partner. She cared for and trained dolphins; fulfilling a personal dream. Every experience added to Fontecchio’s captivation with animals: their form, their behaviors, their grace and beauty. “I became especially fascinated with the musculature of animals in stressful situations: stalking, fighting, running, etc., and in the case of dolphins, swimming and leaping.”

Today, she participates in Western Art Week in Great Falls, MO, the biggest art show of western and wildlife art in the U.S., revolving around the CM Russell Art Auction. Her art resides in the homes of collectors throughout the nation — including the CEOs of Exxon and Drexel, as well as collector’s homes from England to South America to Australia, with buyers from the latter especially drawn to her horse paintings. One of her paintings (pictured above) was juried into the prestigious London Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition. What makes this notable event extra memorable is that it represented the first time she applied for this particular show.

Current Galleries
FoR Gallery, Tucson AZ
CDA Galleries, Coeur d’Alene ID
Elizabeth Lloyd Gallery, Jackson WY
Worrell Gallery, Santa Fe NM

Artwork to be Showcased