Below are a few digital sketches that represent a snapshot of what has been going on in my painting studio lately. Working digitally like this has the huge benefit of offering infinite flexibility when working with colors. I also love to dig for intuitive geometric compositions in my paintings, and Adobe Illustrator is well suited to this kind of sketching. This sketch should be a finished painting by now, but I keep revisiting it, tweaking the colors to try to achieve the balance of light/dark and intensity that it needs. I ended up going with the top design with the chain of small rectangles running across the diagonal. Continuing to play with the red/pink/white/blue palette and simple—bordering on obvious!—geometry. I am currently making the painting that is depicted in this digital concept photo. I created the palette after spending some time at the collectors’ land in west Texas, home of big skies, cedar, mesquite, and earth. When finished, this painting will be an important piece of the collectors’ newly remodeled home! This sketch did not make the cut for the above commission, but it has found a place in my painting queue. It uses the west Texas palette, and does some of the things with simple color, light and space that keep my eyeballs coming back to look again.
Believer, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 31″ x 47″ My most recent painting takes a turn toward representation. I used additive and reductive painting techniques to create the image, as I have been doing in my non-objective works, but this time I was evoking a still life by Henri Fantin-Latour, whose intimate paintings are so quiet, yet sculptural, in the way he uses light and shadow to create space. Plus, finally seeing the Cy Twombly Gallery at the Menil Collection was a huge inspiration as I approached this painting. Looking at Twombly and Fantin-Latour is humbling and uplifting at the same time, and this painting owes its swirling circular shapes and its palette to both painters.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NEW ART-THEMED COMIC BOOK RELEASED IN DALLAS Jim Public, the enterprise of artist James Hough, publishes Starving Artist, a comic book about art, family, and hamburgers DALLAS, TX — Jim Public is proud to announce the publication of the new comic book Starving Artist: Jim Public Presents, Volume 1 by Dallas-based artist James Hough. The comic tells the story of Jim, an artist and family man whose aesthetic ambitions are vitally linked to his domestic and gastric aspirations. “Jim has a plan to sell a painting and use the cash to take his family out for burgers,” says Mr. Hough. “Starving Artist is a slice-of-life story that connects the artist’s career to the artist’s home and family. It is an Anti-Myth of the Artist.” The reader first sees Jim floating pajama-clad through his dreams of fame, fortune, and food before he is abruptly awakened by an early alarm clock. From there he makes his kids breakfast and kisses them good-bye, setting off to exhibit his painting on the downtown Dallas streets. The story is semi-autobiographical, much of it based on Hough’s experiences as the proprietor of his mobile gallery of contemporary art, Jim Public’s Truck. “The gallery continues its mission ‘to present artwork in unusual, spontaneous, and neighborly ways’ with the publication of Starving Artist,” says Hough. “The comic exists digitally and in the traditional paper format, and it costs the tiniest fraction of an original painting, for example. It is an extremely accessible piece of art, a bit spontaneous and very neighborly.” The comic also features Hough’s new painting Burger Night and a bonus educational chart entitled “All Art Is Abstract Art,” which includes the artist’s renderings of famous paintings from art history organized into a concise lesson on abstract art. Starving Artist: Jim Public Presents, Volume 1 by James Hough is available on paper at www.jimpublic.com/books and digitally at eBookstores everywhere.
I worked on this painting off and on for a long time. In fact, after my attentions progressively made it worse, I was driven into a brief retirement from painting altogether. “Who needs paint anyways!” I shouted silently to myself. “It’s just stupid goo!” But I pulled through and finished it, thanks mostly to my wife for her encouragement and a little bit to myself for remembering that I actually do like paint.
Here are some studies I made for a project I’m working on. The project is an educational chart that attempts to organize a broad range of abstract art and to portray abstract art in a way that makes sense to people who may not spend as much time as I do staring at it.
Last Saturday, now that it’s already getting dark here in Dallas by 6pm, it was time at last to figure out how to make a self-contained lighting system for the gallery. One portable power device (designed to jump start your car) and two 12.5 watt LED lights later, plus some wood, screws, spray paint, and work light fixtures, I had my solution! Henceforth the gallery will be a bright jewel lighting up those nights that I hit the road to show some artwork. It was a chilly evening and more sparsely attended than spring and autumn gallery nights in the Design District. Standing out there in the cold and peaceful darkness under the new lights, I felt a particular surge of good feeling that I usually get only when I’m out in our front yard in December, enjoying the quiet glow of our Christmas lights at home. After Dragon Street I drove to the Fair Park area to Ash Studios, where Fred Villenueva had invited me to a Bring Your Own Art party he was hosting. It was a fun time. I enjoyed the rare chance to bring my work with me, by way of illustrating quite directly what I do when getting acquainted with people at the party. When asked what I did, the questioner and I walked around the gate and there it was, the thing I do.
I took the truck gallery down to Oak Cliff last Saturday and enjoyed a beautiful day. Some friends showed up mid-afternoon and we decided to drive the exhibition of my large canvas Bump around the Bishop Arts District, in search of food, drink, and, eventually, pie. Up until Saturday I had not driven while displaying artwork, but the coziness of the Oak Cliff community and the security of having a friend in the bed of the truck keeping an eye on things were enough to get the gallery past that milestone. Currently I am designing a new wall that will be easier to assemble and strike and that will also give me options for displaying artwork while driving. Always, Jim Public’s Truck is about fun and accessibility. So the mission continues…
During the Jim Public’s Truck exhibition A Dry Heat I wished I had some visual aids while I discussed the process of making these paintings. Here, at last, are the photos I took last summer when I went back to Las Vegas and retrieved the glass vitrine, from which I had not yet removed the paintings. The water had evaporated, leaving behind the acrylic paint from the different solutions I had mixed for each painting. Click here to see the resulting artwork.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JIM PUBLIC’S TRUCK PRESENTS BUMP The art gallery drives its largest canvas to Fort Worth’s ArtsGoggle 2012 Opening reception: Saturday, October 13, 4–10pm, parked on Daggett Ave at Bryan St in Fort Worth, TX FORT WORTH, TX – Jim Public’s Truck, Dallas’s Chevrolet-mounted gallery of contemporary art, is proud to announce the exhibition of Bump, a large, non-objective painting by the artist/gallerist. The canvas comes out of Public’s ongoing practice of building up layers of acrylic paint and then sanding the dry paint back down again, repeated until the result looks good. This additive and subtractive process has opened up broad expressive territory for the artist. “What I’m doing in the studio isn’t that different from what I’m doing the rest of the time: constantly adding and discarding ideas, adjusting my perceptions of things, trying to achieve a point of view that roughly corresponds to the actual world,” says Public. “The back and forth between using brush and sandpaper gets these paintings to a place where they start to embody my experience of life as endlessly complex, amorphous, intricate, and baffling.” He adds, “I make messy, non-objective art because it is the best way I’ve found to talk about what it feels like to be a person. I think that makes me like a 12th generation abstract expressionist. Existential dread included.” The painting’s title recalls a moment of panic for the artist and his family when the unfinished, 6’ x 8’ wood-backed canvas fell onto his then 3-year-old son. “When I leaned the painting against my closed garage and walked across the alley to see it from a distance and a gust of wind pushed the panel upright and then forward, bearing down on my son who was on his hands and knees coloring the driveway with chalk, I was too far away to intervene. I just watched it knock his head onto the pavement. Fortunately, my son’s encounter with the painting left him only with a huge, temporary goose-egg, and he recovered as kids almost always do. But my initial feelings of fear, powerlessness and failed responsibility are still with me.” Please join the artist at a reception on Saturday, October 13, from 4–10pm, at Jim Public’s Truck, parked at Daggett Ave and Bryan St in Fort Worth, TX. Jim Public’s Truck is a contemporary art gallery committed to presenting artwork in unusual, spontaneous, and neighborly ways.
Now that I am preparing for the next Jim Public’s Truck exhibition, it is time to post images of the nine paintings that make up the series I showed last month. The paintings that comprise A Dry Heat are plexiglass panels that I put in watertight vessels full of acrylic paint and water. Before submerging each panel in paint and leaving it in Las Vegas for two years to evaporate fully, I did some mark-making in the white, gessoed underlayer, so each painting has words, pictures, or impressions beneath the color and design left behind by nature’s patient hand.
It was a beautiful time, the first evening of autumn, I think. The gallery was parked near plenty of car traffic and very little foot traffic, so, as lots of motorists gave Jim Public’s Truck a quick drive by and, I hope, registered that the gallery exists, I was able to have long and casual chats with those few people who walked all the way down to Payne Street. We gallerists prefer a bustling exhibition, but I savored the evening’s serenity.
Jim Public’s Truck has been invited to participate in tomorrow’s Dallas Art Dealers Association Gallery Walk. I will be parked at 960 Dragon Street from 2 till 8 pm on Saturday, September 22, with A Dry Heat, the ongoing exhibition of paintings made by evaporation in the Mojave desert. I’m looking forward to a beautiful day and I hope to see you there.
August 29, 2012 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JIM PUBLIC’S TRUCK PRESENTS A DRY HEAT The portable gallery exhibits new paintings rendered by evaporation Opening reception: Saturday, September 8, 3–8pm, parked somewhere on Dragon Street, Dallas, TX, quite possibly on the 1001 block between Payne and Howell DALLAS, TX – Jim Public’s Truck, Dallas’s portable gallery of contemporary art, is proud to present an exhibition of new work by the eponymous artist, Jim Public. His new series, A Dry Heat, comprises nine paintings that Public began in 2010 when he lived in Las Vegas. The artist built a watertight vitrine with nine slots in which he suspended plexiglass panels and poured acrylic washes, submerging each panel in a different color of watery paint. Over the following two years the dry, Mojave air evaporated the moisture from the vitrine, leaving behind nine completed paintings, each a record in pigment of the inexorable natural processes that rendered it. “These paintings come out of my effort to make pictures and objects without exerting a lot of control along the way,” says Public. “I am skeptical of exercising too much power during the art-making process like some kind of aesthetic tyrant. The world is bigger and lovelier when you relax.” The paintings of A Dry Heat embody a collaboration between the artist and the arid climate of southern Nevada, and, two years having elapsed during their making, they also represent a time capsule for the artist. “When I first took out the paintings to look at them I saw the phrases and designs that I had made in the substrates before adding the paint washes. I remember thinking in 2010 that these marks would be like artifacts from the past, but I did not consider that the artist doing the excavating in 2012 would be a changed person, one who might no longer love these phrases and designs. In other words, for me, looking closely at these paintings is kind of like looking at an old yearbook: we can change how we feel about the past, but we cannot change the past itself.” The nine paintings—direct products of physical law acting over time—will debut at a reception for the artist on Dragon Street in the Dallas Design District on Saturday, September 8, 3–8pm. Jim Public’s Truck is a contemporary art gallery committed to presenting artwork in unusual, spontaneous, and neighborly ways.
Thank you to everyone who stopped to look, ask questions, and say encouraging things during the gallery’s first event this past Saturday. The debut of Jim Public’s Truck was a lot of fun for me, a great experience. I am proud of the gallery and excited to experiment with its possibilities. I love when art is serious yet informal, straightforward but not simple, fun without being obsequious. These are the qualities I’m after when I make stuff and do stuff. I look forward to the next event!
July 23, 2012 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NEW MOBILE ART GALLERY DEBUTS IN DALLAS Jim Public’s Truck will present exhibitions from the bed of a pickup truck Opening reception: Saturday, July 28, 5–9pm, somewhere on Dragon St. DALLAS, TX – A new contemporary art venue, Jim Public’s Truck, will open on Dragon Street at 5pm on Saturday, July 28, in conjunction with Design District Gallery Day. The exhibition space consists of a white, modular 8’ x 7’ wall and a blue 2001 Chevy Silverado. The proprietor is Dallas-based artist James Hough, who works under the name Jim Public, and who has designed the gallery to fit comfortably within a parking space, making the operation both compact and flexible. “Any place where I can legally park can now be the site of an art exhibition,” says Mr. Public. “Like most galleries and museums, Jim Public’s Truck follows the convention of using white walls and pedestals for displaying fine art, it just does so on the back of a motor vehicle. I am not reinventing the wheel, just putting a gallery on it.” Building a truck-mounted, artist-run gallery space is part of Public’s broader effort to conduct a grassroots art career, one in which he can cultivate a closer relationship with his audience. “I admire how comedians and musicians can tour and gig if they’re willing to put in the work. They create an experience and build an audience all while practicing their craft. And there are bands like the Flaming Lips who strive to connect with their fans in unpredictable and intimate ways, like creating music using fans’ car stereos or cell phones, taking their art out of the studio and off the stage. They are writing their own rulebook—sometimes tearing out the pages—as they go. This is what an artist does, and this is what I am doing with my gallery.” Jim Public’s Truck will debut with the exhibition Jormungand Releases His Tail, featuring Public’s painting by the same name. Public’s recent work is rooted in the pictorial tradition of second-generation abstract expressionists such as Joan Mitchell whose paintings straddle the border between gesture and chaos. Using abrasives to cut through built-up layers of acrylic, Public adds and removes paint over weeks and sometimes months until the painting reaches a point of what he calls, quoting Richard Diebenkorn, “rightness.” Jim Public’s Truck is a contemporary art gallery committed to presenting artwork in unusual, spontaneous, and neighborly ways.
Here are a few of the acrylic-on-plexiglass paintings that are on exhibit in Las Vegas at the ATM Pop Up Gallery @ Creative Space. And thank you to artist and critic Danielle Kelly for her review of my paintings and drawings in that exhibition. Click here to read the review.
If you’re in the Las Vegas area you have an opportunity to see some of my painting studies on exhibit at Jerry Misko’s ATM Pop Up Gallery @ Creative Space. Tonight is First Friday, so the gallery is open from 6 to 9pm. The exhibition also features artwork by Sean Slattery, Jerry Misko, Jessica Starkey, JW Caldwell, Matthew Couper, and others. Jerry’s idea for ATM is that the artwork is strong and affordable. My pieces are between $30 and $140. Do check it out.