Monday, August 03, 2009

Interview: Jeffrey Cortland Jones

(image, X, 12″ x 16” enamel, resin, and other mixed media on 1/2″ mdf floating 1/2″ from the wall)

As a kick off to a new show, I have curated, or rather supervised would be more appropriate, I thought I would post a brief interview with Ohio based artist, Jeffrey Cortland Jones, to introduce many of you to his work and process. I first came across Jones work when I stumbled upon his blog a number of years ago. In the months and years that followed, we had exchanged the occasional correspondance and kept up with each other via our blogs and web sites, that was until recently when Danielle Riede and I made a trip to Cincinnati to see a show of his, where by we had the opportunity to finally meet in person. Needless to say I have been a fan of his work for some time and have been wanting to show his work in Indy when an opportunity presented itself. Well, this First Friday you will have that opportunity to check out his paintings at Mt. Comfort (a space for champions), the project space brought to us by Casey Roberts and Jessica Sowls. I hope to see you all come out see these new paintings up close and in person Friday and take the opportunity to meet the artist.

[Note: Images shown are a random assortment of works from Jeffrey Cortland Jones web site.]


OtC- Where were you raised and when did you first decide you wanted to be an artist?

JCJ- I was born in the south and grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. As a child I didn’t draw or paint a lot like and never thought of becoming an artist. I loved to skateboard, and for most of my childhood and teenage years, that was life. I took a few art classes in junior high and high school, but it wasn’t until a few semesters into college that I started to think about becoming a painter. I had also always been involved in musical theater and thought that I might make it to Broadway someday. So, I started college as a theater major and through some twist of fate I found myself in a painting class. Needless to say, a few weeks into the semester, I dropped all my classes except painting.

OtC- I am always interested in an artists studio practice, how they go about making a work, do they work in series or on a single piece until it is finished... Could you walk us through your practice? How do you approach creating a new work?

JCJ- First off, my studio is a small, about 10 x 11 feet, unheated/uncooled out-building in my backyard. It is in a constant state of disaster, which I am sort of embarrassed of, but frankly, I think I work well in that environment. I am always working on several paintings at once, most related, but there is always one that floats around by itself in search of something. I am never sure about what is going to happen to a work, due to the inconsistencies of the material, and I don’t work from studies. Most of the time I start new work by either pouring or spraying several layers of color to build up the surface and density of the support. From there it is about working back down into those layers, sanding and smoothing, and repainting until interesting relationships develop among the layers. In the end, I see painting as a physical activity and a material process rather than as a language that conveys narrative meaning.

(image, temptation, 12″ x 16” enamel, resin, and other mixed media on 1/2″ mdf floating 1/2″ from the wall)

OtC- I personally love, what I see, in your work as this personal battle between the layered, gestural portions of the works, against the more minimal, what I would describe as "screens" of color. Perhaps I view this a personal battle because of my own love/hate relationship with minimalism. How do you approach this balance when painting? And, how do you know when a piece is finished?

JCJ- I, too, have a love/hate relationship with minimalism…I love seeing the hand of the artist in the work, so Ryman is in while Judd is out. I’m more interested in the inherent concept of conflict within the works. That “battle” is the result of my interest in geometric versus organic, controlled versus spontaneous, and how the painting is physically built versus reducing it back to where it started. What is left is simply this accumulation. Honestly, I’m never sure when a painting is done…I guess it’s when I get to the point that I know if I do anything else to it I’ll mess it up.

OtC- Your audience, the viewer... At what point in your practice do you become aware of your audience? And what of how would you like to see people approach and view your work? Is the viewer experience important to you?

JCJ- Truthfully, I really don’t think about the viewer too much in my process. Again, my concern is the process of painting, not the end result of the act of painting.

(image, marr, 10” x 10” enamel, resin, and acrylic on osb)

OtC- What have been some of your artistic influences over the years? What shaped your current practice?

JCJ- At first it was skateboard/punk/graffiti culture, became that’s where I came from. Then as a formal visual art student, it became the standard cannon of abstraction…Ryman, Rothko, Marden, Martin, Stella, Scully, Mangold, Marioni, Palermo, Twombly, etc. I tried, and failed, to make paintings like theirs, in my attempt to understand how they constructed an image, how they handled their mediums and supports. I then became interested in how graffiti was painted over or covered by law enforcement. I saw these big “paintings” of industrial grays and beiges as beautiful, lush, and unintentional Rothko’s...and in most cases, more honest than any painting he, or the above, ever made. There is something about the energy of the graffiti, the clumsiness of the covering, the slight variation in the original wall color verses color of the over paint in these found monochromes.

OtC- As of late, you seem to have been quite busy on all fronts. How have you managed to balance teaching, painting, curating, exhibiting and on top of that a family?

JCJ- Late nights! It’s certainly not easy but I have an amazing wife who puts up with more than anyone should! I couldn’t do any of this without her support and guidance. She sees what I don’t and keeps me grounded. Also, teaching, painting, curating, and exhibiting all seem to go hand in hand and tend to balance one another. They inform each other in a way, and I don’t think they could survive on their own…nor would I want them to.

OtC- You and I became aware of each other and eventually met because of our presence on the internet, particularly through each of our blogs. Do you feel this aspect of artist web sites, blogs, social networking sites, etc. have had an impact on your art practice? If so, in what ways? And, do you feel that more artists these days should consider and/or take advantage of these sort of things as an extension of their practice?

JCJ- Sure! I’ve “met” tons of artists throughout the country and abroad that I never would have without the internet. I’ve also been in a number of exhibitions as a result of networking with my contacts. I have instant access to what other people are making, as well as their studio practices. I can ask someone for feedback and it’s like a mini critique. I definitely think other artists should take advantage of all there is out there on blogs and other websites if they aren’t already.

(image, wilder, 10” x 10” enamel, resin, and acrylic on osb)

OtC- What would you describe as the pros and cons of working as an artist in the Midwest?

JCJ- I don’t see many cons of the Midwest...remember I grew up down south. I hear people talk negatively about it but I think it’s fantastic. I think the people here are sincere, kind, and helpful. The location is great, too. You can jump in the car and be in Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Nashville, Louisville, Detroit, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, etc., in just a matter of hours.

OtC- What question, if any, do you get asked about your work that you simply hate answering and why?

JCJ- Honestly none come to mind. I think I am pretty open about the work and if someone is interested enough to ask then I’ll tell them. Also, people don’t tend to ask many questions about my work.

OtC- Aside from the show you have opening here at Mt. Comfort (a space for champions), what shows do you have coming up that you are excited about?

JCJ- There are three coming up in September that I am excited about.

The first is a solo show at Some Walls in Oakland, California, organized by Chris Ashley. It is my first solo on the west coast. It is brand a new space, and I’m honored to be it’s inaugural exhibition. Next is a three person exhibition at Northern Kentucky University, with Cincinnati painters Kim Krause and Frank Herrmann. Lastly is a four person show at the Marx Gallery in Covington, Kentucky, that I have put together of painters who I admire and wanted to exhibit with: Douglas Witmer, Joe Sanders, and yourself.

(image, mesh, 12″ x 16” enamel, resin, and other mixed media on 1/2″ mdf floating 1/2″ from the wall)

If you like the painting directly above, then you should be aware that a limited series of prints of this work can be purchased from 246 Editions. They are available in two sizes and costing a mere $20 to $50 respectively. A great price from a new publisher that is worth keeping your eye on.

For more information on Jeffrey Cortland Jones, visit the following:
You can see his work this First Friday:

Jeffrey Cortland Jones
3 color paints whole world
Opening Reception August 7th, 6-11pm
Mt. Comfort (a space for champions)
1651 English Ave.
(corner of State and English)
Indianapolis, Indiana

4 Responses to “Interview: Jeffrey Cortland Jones”

ChristopherWestPresents said...
August 3, 2009 at 9:51 AM

These look great Scott. Looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...
August 4, 2009 at 8:29 AM

Great exhibit Scott. This is a must go.

I will also be going to the "In An Expression of the Inexpressible" exhibit at Dean Johnson Gallery. The international press on this exhibit is amazing. The Agence France-Presse (AFP) just picked up the exhibit and will be featuring it through its various news partners. The AFP is the oldest news agency in the world, and one of the three largest with Associated Press and Reuters. Great job to Jonathan McGlothin, Samuel E. Vazquez and Vida Sacic for bringing this exhibit to Indy.

Looking forward to Friday!

ChristopherWestPresents said...
August 6, 2009 at 9:48 AM

Yep, I took a sneak peak. Beautiful show. Congrats Jeffrey.

Scott said...
August 6, 2009 at 10:38 AM

Thanks. I am feeling quite good about this show and hope to see a lot of people make it out. If you have have not yet been out to see a show in this space, then make a point of it this Friday night.

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