Brush With Fame
Josée Nadeau is a busy woman. A day in her life can be dizzying: a morning meeting with a client about commissioned pieces, an afternoon spent creating in her Park City studio, an evening promotional photo shoot for an upcoming live painting performance, and a subsequent early-morning flight across the country. Each day brings new opportunities for Nadeau to showcase her boundless talent and contagious effervescence.
Born in Canada, Nadeau spent a decade living as an artist-in-residence in Giverny, France, with a studio in the late Claude Monet’s gardens. There, she painted as the protégée of esteemed French art expert Gerald Van der Kemp, the mastermind behind the renovation of Versailles and the savior of the famed Mona Lisa from Nazi destruction. With such beauty around her and such a master guiding her, paintings of water lilies and Parisian décor naturally followed suit for Nadeau. She was introduced to a life attending royal balls, film festivals, and fashion shows, and socializing with celebrities, which contributed to Nadeau’s experiences as an artist and as a personality.
Eventually Nadeau relocated to Park City to be close to her two sons. Her move west reignited a longtime affection for equine painting, a skill she’s been honing since she began drawing horses as a small child. “I used to ride when I was 13, and I loved horses,” she explains. While living at Sundance near Robert Redford’s estate, Nadeau channeled the power and grace of horses through oil and canvas, turning her attention from the soft light and pastels of French gardens to the rugged energy of the American West. Epic works, such as the piece that came to be known as Million Dollar Baby, reflect her reverence for the equestrian spirit. “My good friend, actress Frances Fisher, gave that painting to Clint Eastwood in celebration of his movie to honor his achievement,” remembers Nadeau. “And now it’s fun to see the painting on the television show Mrs. Eastwood and Company. It made me smile that I had to sign releases for its inclusion in various episodes.”
Many of Nadeau’s paintings are found in interesting and prominent places. Her work is shown at the fine-art trade show Artexpo New York, and this past fall, several of her paintings were selected by Ralph Lauren to be featured in its East Hampton and Southampton store-window displays. Jessica Macksey, senior director of creative presentation at Ralph Lauren, believes that Nadeau’s works were “perfect additions to our windows since western and equestrian themes are so strongly reflected in the Ralph Lauren brand.” Nadeau enjoyed her Ralph Lauren exhibit from the comfort of a Hamptons beach house, where she painted a commissioned work and entertained throughout August and September.
Nadeau always enjoys her trips to New York and frequents the East Coast. She’s painted live in Manhattan several times, both on Broadway and at private functions. In fact, she was en route to the 2011 New York City Princess Ball to paint live for the princess of Serbia when she met an art expert who eventually became a client. Cheryl Gursky, the former chair of the Princeton University Art Museum Docent Association, recalls the first time she saw Nadeau. “I walked out my door and there she was, dressed to the nines,” she recalls. “She introduced herself, had her iPad with her, and within minutes she was showing me her work, which is simply eye candy—you just sit there and your mouth drops open.” Within days, Gursky commissioned a large painting for her pied-à-terre. Once Nadeau’s first piece was hung in August 2012, Gursky quickly requested a second. “It makes me happy to see a client enjoy my work either as a collectible or as an investment,” notes Nadeau.
Watching Nadeau work is a phenomenon, and Utah had the opportunity to enjoy a Nadeau performance in October when she painted live with the Salt Lake Symphony. “Sound and Light: Playing and Painting for a Purpose” was a humanitarian event in support of The Zahra Charity, an organization that builds brain-injury rehabilitation facilities in Morocco. Nadeau has donated her time and her work to other causes as well, such as Dress for Success, the American Heart Association, and the National Ability Center. “I am devoted to giving back,” says Nadeau. “It’s the most rewarding aspect of what I do.”