Judge’s Bio – “Figuratively Speaking”

Exhibition judge Jason John – www.jasonjohnart.com

Figures with inscrutable expressions balance precarious cardboard headpieces and hold awkward poses as fruit, flowers, and abstract objects swirl around them. The paintings reveal Jason John’s masterful realist technique broken by abstract fissures of dripping paint.  The situations are illogical. But don’t look for meaning or stories behind them. “As an artist, it took me a long time to realize that it’s OK to be a realist painter that doesn’t tell a story,” John told MOCA Jacksonville.

John, an assistant professor of painting at the University of North Florida, describes his work as portraits of people in transition, with no relationship to allegory or narrative. Where his subjects have been or where they are going, he doesn’t know.

When discussing his work, John often focuses on three central themes-identity, space and composition. All three are wrapped into the helmets his subjects wear, which he calls veils. Inspired by his passion for history, the headpieces are fashioned after Viking or Roman helmets. In his research, he learned that Vikings would appropriate visual elements from the villages they conquered into their armor, essentially destroying one thing to create another. He constructs them from cardboard and packaging, which often contain telltale symbols of their origins from Amazon or other shippers, adding an element of found art. These veils obscure the original identity of his models, allowing them to take on new roles.

Objects that could be real or projections of the subjects’ thoughts drift through the paintings, hinting at the figures’ identities and creating depictions of space. The fleshy exploding fruit could be mirrors of their bodies.

Born in 1980 in Detroit, Michigan, John grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He received a BFA in painting from Kutztown University and an MFA in painting and drawing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He also studied at The Waichulis Studio (now called Ani Art Academies) in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.

John’s work has appeared around the country including solo exhibitions at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio; Texas Tech University in Lubbock; and the Sylvia White Gallery in Ventura, California. In 2012, John was inducted into the Museum of Realist Art in Boston, Massachusetts. His work has been on the covers of Bluecanvas, Art Calendar, Poets and Artists, and Visual Overture Magazine. His work has also been featured in American Arts Quarterly, American Art Collector, Manifest Gallery’s International Painting Annual, Studio Visit, Creative Quarterly, and Aesthetica.


Awards and Judge’s Comments – “Figuratively Speaking”

ART LEAGUE OF DAYTONA BEACH  - “Figuratively Speaking 2019”

Exhibition Judge – Jason John

BEST IN SHOW  #102 Katty Smith   “The Pioneer Spirit”                                                  The judge stated that one’s appreciation of sculpture is activated by time it takes to walk around and explore it, and that this piece engages the viewer from all angles.  The text elements add to the piece and leave room for interpretation, almost like journal entries.  The judge remarked that the work is an excellent combination of concept and craftsmanship, and that its presence in the exhibit draws the viewer to it immediately, making it worthy of the Best in Show award. 

FIRST PLACE  #72 Betty Morris Parker    “Goodbye”                                                           The judge noted the artist’s sensitivity in both the subject matter and the handling of the materials, with a contrast between soft and distressed areas.  The treatment of the surface, especially in the hair, holds the viewer’s interest.  The fact that the figure is facing away from us adds mystery to the piece.  The judge remarked that he would have liked to talk with the artist regarding the concept and the process. 

SECOND PLACE    #46 Marianna H. Ross    “Icarus”                                                              The judge stated that this piece initially appears to be nonobjective, but then starts to reveal the various body parts, showing the artist’s skill at controlling what the viewer sees.  The judge also appreciated the artist’s effective use of the intense, iridescent colors, and the progression from cool to warm, with the warm colors providing visual weight at the lower right corner. 

THIRD PLACE    #86  George M. Stuart    “After the Bath”                                                           The judge appreciated that the artist presented the figure in a brave and bold manner.  The stark black background provides an effective background, resulting in sharp value contrast.  The judge felt that the piece evokes a feeling of Northern Renaissance art, in the manner of Albrecht Durer.  The work continues to call the viewer back for another look.

DISTINCTION   #43  P.Z. Thompson    “Secrets Unfolding”  The judge described this piece as a fine example contemporary work.  The figure emerges from the mass of color, enhanced by sensitive line work.  The presentation of the work adds to its presence. 

DISTINCTION   #17  Fay Samimi   “Goddess of the Sea, Stained”                            The judge said that he found this piece to be somewhat primitive, with a beautiful presence.  The piece is enhanced by the size, and the artist has used color, details, and surface quality effectively.  

DISTINCTION   #92  Gwen Hughes    “Varansi Bather”                                                The judge appreciated the artist’ skill in orchestrating what might appear, on first glance, to be street photography into a fully realized composition.  The judge noted that the figure and architectural elements add a neoclassical feeling to the piece. 

DISTINCTION   #23  Bonnie Shapiro    “Meadowlands”                                               The judge noted the painterly quality of this piece, and that the softness and pastel colors contrast effectively with the charcoal.  The artist has thoughtfully selected a surface that adds to the effects of the materials and creates a sense of mystery. 

ACHIEVEMENT    #21 Christopher Casler   “Afternoon” 

ACHIEVEMENT   #10  Robert Shirk    “Palm Beach Flower” 

ACHIEVEMENT    #77  Clare Radigan   “Diseverything” 

ACHIEVEMENT    #100  Jack Hill   “The Unmasking” 

RECOGNITION     #9  Carolyn Land   “Nana” 

RECOGNITION    #63  Babz Lupoli    “Moulin Rouge” 

RECOGNITION    #12  Nancy Newlove McElroy  “Things We Carry”  

RECOGNITION    #57  Kay Botet   “Carving Gansha”

MERIT   #94  Marilyn Leverton    “Despair”

 MERIT   #36  Barbara Perkins   “Ha Na (Beautiful Calm)”

MERIT    #52  Catherine Ward   “Michelle”

MERIT    #27  Barbara Perrotti    “Marvin Blues and Gray” 

HONORABLE MENTION   #67  Craig Monroe   “Katie”

 HONORABLE MENTION  #61  Marsha Tidy   “Pension 1 – Pensioen 4”

 HONORABLE MENTION  #59  Pam Coffman   “Klimt Hot and Cold”

 HONORABLE MENTION   #8 Jaye Escudero   “Through the Woods”

HONORABLE MENTION  #103  Weldon Ryan   “Bells and Whistle” 

JUDGE’S CHOICE  #2  Carson Kapp   “Rihannon”

JUDGE’S CHOICE  #106  Rafael Torres    “Dreams of Flight”