This year’s feature Fall exhibit at MOCA, “Get Real: New American Painting,” focuses on eight contemporary realist painters with “extraordinarily recent” work, from the year 2000 to now.
Ben Thompson, Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, conceptualized and executed this exhibition, as he does for MOCA Jacksonville throughout the year.
Thompson selected a group of emerging young painters, mostly under 40 years old, from across the country. He then arranged for the loan of selected pieces from museums and galleries to MOCA Jacksonville for the duration of the show: Sept.13 – Jan. 4, 2015.
The eight painters are: Haley Hasler, Jason John, Andrea Kowch, Bryan LeBoeuf, Jenny Morgan, Kevin Muente, Frank Oriti and Kevin Peterson. The common theme uniting the artwork is realist portraiture in urban, pastoral and heartland landscapes.
Thompson said MOCA is fortunate, in this instance, that one of the artists is Jason John, a UNF professor in Art and Design. A MOCA studio was created for him adjacent to the exhibit. John’s work adds a surrealist dimension; his figures have a dreamlike association with their environment.
MOCA Jacksonville is a cultural resource of University of North Florida.
“Another great thing about our relationship with the university,” Thompson said, “is that we can utilize the resources and scholars at the Art and Design department as colleagues.”
Thompson asked Art History Professor Scott Brown to write an essay contextualizing the artwork for the publication which would accompany the show. They had served together on several committees and Thompson knew that although Brown was a medievalist, he had an interest in the cutting edge art of today.
Brown found that many of the artists alluded to the past in their subject matter, composition, or technique. Jason John’s “Birdboy” pays homage to Flemish Baroque artist Anthony Van Dyck’s “Self-portrait with a Sunflower” (1632).
Because these are young artists, there has not been the availability or opportunity for art historians to look at their work in depth. Brown proposed and developed a Junior Methods Seminar where his students will spend the semester examining the nature of the exhibit as a whole. They will research one artist and then write a scholarly essay on one piece of that artist’s work.
Over the course of the exhibit, John will be creating a body of artwork from the MOCA studio two days a week. The public can observe and experience the process; sometimes he might be sketching, or painting, or talking on the phone with an art dealer in Chicago, or talking with a MOCA visitor.
In this audio slideshow, Thompson gives an overview of the “Get Real: New American Painting” exhibit and then introduces Jason John’s MOCA Jacksonville art studio. John then discusses his experiences with visitors and what they learn from each other.
NOTE: Technical difficulties with slideshow photographs. Rework in progress with captions. Please see photo page for larger photos. Some show painting detail only.