Jeanne Rorex Bridges started painting and competing in local and national art competitions over 40 years ago. Most were Native American exhibits and competitions where she gained a national reputation for her unique colors, designs, painting style and ideas depicting her heritage.
Traveling and selling original paintings and prints with her husband, James, suddenly expanded when they discovered a process to reproduce Jeanne’s art onto ceramic tiles. Her colors, style and subjects were a perfect fit for the affordable art tiles. Not only were their retail exhibits enhanced, a successful wholesale business opened. Museum and gift stores can offer a piece of fine art at a low cost and ready to display.
Jeanne’s reputation as an award winning artist grew when she illustrated a children’s book, “Crossing bok Chitto” by Tim Tingle. The book, published in 2006, won over 20 national and international literary awards and still sells well today. It is the 2007 Oklahoma Children’s Book of the Year and she was named Oklahoma Illustrator of the Year for 2007. The first time ever both were awarded for the same book.
Rorex Bridges Studio business is intertwined with Jeanne’s life and career . . . . located in rural Eastern Oklahoma on her family land . . . where she grew up farming, milking and raising cattle and more. Her roots run deep and she and James love to welcome collectors at their home/gallery/studio/workshop. Jeanne is still creating paintings in her studio with its large windows overlooking rolling hills, a tree line and a pond. During the summer, she can stop and watch James’ hummingbirds under the large oak tree just outside the window. The Studio is still a 2-man shop with Jeanne and James printing, pressing, assembling and packing each order. Thereby, quality control is personally handled. For larger orders, family members are available to pitch in.
Though not a large company, Rorex Bridges Studio is run with dedication and pride in its creative products and the innovative selection of products ; and especially the ability to share Jeanne’s Art with customers of every income bracket . . . from original paintings to tile magnets . . . If you find one of her paintings you love, you can afford to take it home with you.
Jeanne Rorex Bridges’ Personal Artist Statement
My art is so much a part of me that when I am asked why I paint what I paint or why I use the colors I use, it is like asking me to explain my own personality . . . it’s not a one-line answer! The combination of my upbringing, my racial heritage, my environment and my undeniable need to express my ideas and feelings to others, is why I paint . . . I love to paint . . . I love how I feel when I paint. I thank God every day to get to live the life I live . . . . to have this imagination and ability to paint my thoughts, my feelings, and my ideas.
Everyone who thinks Oklahoma is flat, dry and treeless; they haven’t seen Eastern Oklahoma! My Studio/Home is located on the same family land where I was raised as a farm/ranch girl. We worked all year long. We had a small dairy, a herd of stock cattle and raised all kinds of field crops along with gardens and truck patches. Summer vacation didn’t exist, but, I have never resented my upbringing. It was a great life and it sure makes me appreciate my career today! Both my parents had Cherokee blood (non-federal) and they were married during The Depression. (I was their mid-life surprise!) They both worked extremely hard to buy land, farm, and raise cattle and kids.
Both my parents were wonderful storytellers. They told stories about their lives and the characters they had met along the way . . . . just common days of hard work, common people and their personalities and simple stories about children and animals . . . . nothing glamorous or very exciting but very interesting and usually funny. Listening to their impressions and memories, knowing their honesty and generosity, gave me an appreciation of the beauty and humor found in everyday life and relationships.
As a child I was drawing every chance I could but was not formally exposed to “Art” except on the rare visits to my uncle’s home. My mother’s brother, Willard Stone, was a very famous non-federal Cherokee wood sculptor . . . he would sometimes come by our farm for a visit and show us a piece he was working on or we would make the 50 mile trip to visit his family. I was so bashful that I couldn’t bring myself to ask him any questions but I was fascinated by him and his work. Even as a small girl, I realized the strength of his Art . . . . that he could express the deepest of feelings and thoughts through the simple design and beauty of his wood sculptures. I knew that I didn’t just want to paint or draw a pretty picture; I wanted to express my ideas and my thoughts through art. Art is so important to me that even after a college degree, many awards and honors, several one-woman exhibits and a full-time career, when I am asked about my occupation, I still humbly answer, “Artist”.
Something I am very proud to have created is my “Sister Series”. It is a series of paintings reflecting relationships between Native and African American women; working together, facing the same future and sharing the same family and the same past. I illustrated a children’s book, Crossing Bok Chitto, because Tim Tingle’s story seemed to connect to the relationships and feelings in my sister series. The book has won an unusual number of awards!
I want to create paintings that are simple and strong. Something that you want to take home, add it to your life and enjoy the feeling you get every time you look at it. Maybe the feelings I remember when I listened to my parents ideas and stories so long ago.