February 26th, 2024

Jonathan Julien working in his home studio — a former dance studio turned art studio

The soft periwinkle shadows of aspen trees cast against the snow. The golden sparkle of the sun reflecting off of ski moguls. The vibrantly dressed figures dotting the slopes, leaving clouds of powder in their wake. These are just a few of the vivid vignettes local artist Jonathan Julien expressively captures in his ski paintings. They are the ephemeral moments from the ski slopes, frozen in time and enshrined in soft shades of pastel, deep shadows, and golden washes – the kind only a true ski lover could capture the true essence of. Drawing inspiration from his love for skiing, his artwork often blurs the lines between abstraction and representation. Each brushstroke is imbued with intentionality, as Julien strives to create compositions that captivate the viewer and invite them into a world of visual storytelling and ski-loving nostalgia.

Jonathan Julien’s artistic journey is a testament to the profound impact of upbringing and personal experiences on creative expression. Born into a household adorned with art, Julien’s childhood was steeped in creativity. His mother’s work as a designer and a European importer exposed him to a myriad of artistic influences from a young age, fostering a deep appreciation for the visual arts: “I hit the gold mine with my family,” Julien beams, “Coming from a family where the arts are a big deal and getting to spend a lot of time in Europe with my parents for their work was wonderful. We were always going to museums, and I always had a sketchbook.” 

Jonathan Julien, “The Monument,” oil, 48″ x 48″

From his earliest memories, Julien found solace and inspiration in the world of art. Regular visits to museums and galleries instilled in him a profound sense of connection to the creative process. After graduating with a BFA in Studio Arts from Brigham Young University and an MFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design, where he honed his artistic skills under the guidance of dedicated teachers, Julien embarked on a journey to pursue his passion for art professionally. Armed with a plethora of experiences and hundreds of paintings under his belt, he embraced the path of an artist. As he navigated through his formative years and his early art career, Julien’s passion for art only intensified, fueled by the unwavering support of his family.

Now Julien looks forward to cultivating a similarly supportive and creative environment for his three-year old twin girls. Both Julien and his wife are full-time artists and share their home studio together. “The people that owned our house before us were big dancers, so half of our house used to be a dance studio. Now it’s our art studio, so our girls cannot help but be around it. I think it’s just so normal for them to see mom and dad painting in the studio.”

Shots of works in progress in Jonathan Julien’s home studio

Over the years, Julien has established himself as a prominent figure in Utah’s contemporary art scene. His work has graced the walls of prestigious galleries and museums, most notably a recent exhibition at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, garnering acclaim for his works’ evocative imagery and expressive brushstrokes. Through his paintings, Julien seeks to evoke emotions, provoke thought, and spark meaningful conversations about the beauty and complexity of the world around us.

In addition to his more representational paintings at Gallery MAR, Julien also creates a body of purely abstract work. These two styles, whether intentionally or not, seem to be in conversation with one another: giving his representational works a more gestural air and his abstract works a strong sense of composition and complexity of space. 


“Skiing is very endearing to me as an artistic subject – one that I can spend a lot of time on – because I associate it with home and family.” – Jonathan Julien


Whether he’s painting one of his abstract pieces or one of his more representational works, the grounding force and ultimate foundation for each piece is its composition. “I would say that composition has always been really exciting to me,” Julien elaborates, “if you look at really good representational painters, like Caravaggio and his contemporaries for instance, you know that they would make incredible abstract painters, as well. It’s all about breaking up space and the way that they put tension on the edge of the picture and the sort of complexity of space that they create.” In this way, Julien sees the underlying principles of good abstract art and good representational art as analogous. 

Jonathan Julien fresh off the ski slopes

When painting his ski landscapes for Gallery MAR, Julien draws inspiration from both these abstract fundamentals and his own personal experiences on the ski slopes. “Skiing is very endearing to me as an artistic subject – one that I can spend a lot of time on – because I associate it with home and family. Ski landscape paintings are interesting because they’re landscapes that are activated by figures that occupy that space. In a way, it breaks some of the conventions of a normal winter landscape.” This unique perspective on the landscape, of skiers and figures dotting the horizon, is something that Julien and others raised in a ski-loving environment are fortunate to consider normalized. Julien expounds, “I grew up going to Sun Valley a lot with my grandfather, and I live in Utah now, so it’s a unique, but normal way for me to view a landscape, and I love that.”


“I love trying to find a unique way to communicate the landscape, and that’s one of the goals of Gallery MAR: to create fresh work” – Jonathan Julien


Living in Utah, so close to Park City, Julien eagerly anticipates teaching his twin girls how to ski on our beloved Park City slopes. “I feel like Park City is really cozy, hugged by these different mountains. There’s something romantic about skiing right down to your home or to Main Street. Main Street in Park City is small, but it’s so high caliber…especially its art.” Julien reflects on how his goals in creating his ski paintings align so beautifully with that of Gallery MAR’s: “I love trying to find a unique way to communicate the landscape, and that’s one of the goals of Gallery MAR: to create fresh work. ‘Fresh’ in terms of how the paint is applied or how the subject is worked, but also ‘fresh’ conceptually. The idea is that these are not just typical landscapes, but they’re landscapes that are fairly new and that you can look at with fresh eyes.”

Jonathan Julien, “Ski-Tee,” acrylic, 36″ x 40″

Reflecting on his experience being represented here at Gallery MAR, Jonathan Julien expressed his admiration for the gallery’s professionalism and efficiency. “There’s something really streamlined and really professional about the way Gallery MAR operates,” Julien reflects, “it sounds like a typical answer, but it’s honestly so true and so difficult to find in the art world.” Central to his positive experience with Gallery MAR is his profound respect and appreciation for Gallery MAR owner, Maren Mullin: “Maren is so great in that she not only values the artists and their time, but she also gets really excited about the work itself. She’s a great supporter and patron of the arts.” His sentiments underscore the importance of strong partnerships and supportive environments in fostering artistic growth and success.

As Julien’s artistic journey continues to evolve, fueled by a relentless drive to explore new horizons and find new meaning in the idea of “fresh art,” we here at Gallery MAR are honored to share that evolution with you. With each new work, Julien brings forth a unique perspective on the landscape that excites with its gestural beauty and inspires with its beloved, nostalgic depictions of ski-loving memories.

Written by Veronica Vale