There is a depth to Jan Gosnell's art that might not be entirely predictable considering his quick wit and the exhibit opening with a reception Sept. 5 at Fenix Fayetteville.
"Good Humor" is the title of the exhibit -- and the theme. The images look like they might be advertisements -- bold, colorful, with words playing an integral part in the design. They're sharp, they're intriguing -- and then Gosnell starts to talk about them.
Art By Jan Gosnell
WHEN — Through September; an opening reception is set for 5-8 p.m. Sept. 5
WHERE — Fenix Fayetteville, on the Fayetteville square
COST — Free
INFO — fenixfayettevilleart.com
"For several hundred years, traditional makers of pictures have felt compelled either by themselves or by their audience to title the images they produce," he begins. "Many artists have found this naming distasteful, perhaps because it seems to limit the sensual perception of the image they are attempting to convey, or they may just feel aggravated by the traditional pressure to help the viewer understand a picture's 'meaning.'"
In the case of his works showing at Fenix Fayetteville, Gosnell took a road less traveled.
"For the most part, the work I will be exhibiting at the Fenix Gallery is a reversal of this aversion to naming in the sense that with each piece, it has been my intent to have the title exist before the image," he explains. "In a sense, the title becomes a blatant inspiration for the image."
As he talks, Gosnell's philosophy is revealed, layer after layer, like the acrylic paint in which he often works.
"My choices for titles and imagery are arrived at by happenstance and are chosen for the reason that they pictorially challenge me in both the intuitive sense and the demand for a certain disciplined application of skill," he says. "As for the humor that manifests in this body of work, regardless of how it is perceived, it is at times intentional and at times incidental. In search of a subject, the question always becomes, 'is this idea worth the time and work necessary to make it?' Sometimes, there is only one way to find out."
Gosnell has been an artist since almost his first memories. He says his first inspiration was "Popeye at 5 years old."
Growing up in San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas, Gosnell says he was "encouraged by family and teachers to see myself as a real artist at a very early age." He was drawing by the time he was 5, studying pastels at the Witte Museum in San Antonio at age 8 and started oil painting at McNay Art Institute at San Antonio when he was 11.
"Now, at age 76, with a lifetime of work, the evidence is irrefutable," he says, grinning. He is, in fact, a "real" artist -- although his careers have also included teacher, author, gallery owner, commercial artist, newspaper cartoonist, filmmaker and self-employed house painter.
Gosnell says now, he paints with acrylics on canvas and paper, draws with pen and ink, markers, pastels and Conte crayon -- "My favorite medium tends to be the one that I happen to be using at the time" -- and finds inspiration "from all places, all experiences. I am frequently amazed at the sources made available through the process of my work."
As far as "Good Humor" goes -- as with any of his art -- Gosnell says he hopes that viewers will be "fascinated with it" and "will in part discover what I did in making it."
But in terms of his deeper philosophy, he says: "Any significance my work may have in the universal sense can best be described by the word integrity. As a painter, it is of the utmost importance to me that each of my pictures reflects a sincere effort to arrive at some degree of aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional truth. It is only by this standard that I perceive my work to be part of the history of art and myself a contributor to the community of man."
NAN What's Up on 08/25/2019
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