Jas. W. Felter was born on the cusp of Leo-Virgo in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York in 1943. His introduction to painting was by watching his Grandmother, Evelyn Felter, who was known to a small circle of art lovers for her landscapes and paintings of covered bridges. Her attempts to teach the teenage boy were unsuccessful, but his need to paint soon led him to ‘do it his way’. He won a state-wide art competition and held his first solo exhibition at the age of 17. Felter entered the University of South Florida in 1961 and soon discovered that he could major in Fine Art by undertaking a programme directed by a former student of the abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann. Before receiving his BA in 1961, Felter studied with and produced a film on the technique and philosophy of the New York abstract expressionist Friedel Dzubas.
Not satisfied with the limiting study of art as a movement from Egypt through Greece, Rome, France, and England to North America; Felter joined a unique arts programme in the U.S. Peace Corps. He left for the equatorial regions of South America in search of “pure” art as practised by the indigenous peoples - unencumbered by the baggage imposed by Western preconceptions. Freed from the direct influences of his teachers in his studio in Quito, Ecuador, he began to find his own art. In addition his studies of 450 etched designs from the Manteña culture (500-1500 AD.) was published and distributed free to the artisans of Ecuador.
Felter moved to Seattle in 1966 to undertake graduate studies in the more traditional art programme and in Mesoamerican archaeology (where he researched pre-Columbian mural painting) at the University of Washington. He moved his studio to Vancouver in 1968 and was granted Canadian citizenship in 1974. Among numerous awards, Felter received a Canada Council grant in 1979 to document indigenous art in the Andean and Amazonian regions. In 1981 and 82 he returned to the Upper Amazon to produce a film documenting the painting technique of the Shipibo. He continues to devote his efforts to the creation of universal art works which speaks directly to each individual, regardless of educational or cultural background.
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