Jason Watts

August 30, 2007

A very nice tradition in a lakeside village, where I’ve summered since I was two, is its annual outdoor art show. The setting is charming amidst centenarian pines, creating cooling canopy under which artists show off their talents. The show is juried, so the selection of competing artists is both excellent and diverse.


Even so, usually only one or two artists will stand out, as I normally tire of Wyeth knock-offs, too touched-up photographs, or yet another tired floral or still-life.


One artist did catch my eye and I wanted to share his work with you. Jason Watts resides in Chicago and he’s heavily influenced by the Ash Can School, known for artists Hopper and Bellows and their depiction of gritty, lonely urban scenes. Their influence is evident in his urban subject and he revealed to me that his apartment is near busy highways of Chicago and parking garages. He’s drawn to this setting and portrays it effectively and beautifully through vivid colors in stark contrast to the subject matter.


He works in several media, but is employing an age-old technique of egg tempera, which makes his reds and blues bold and possess his work. These pieces are done on 3-dimensional panels, interestingly allowing the continuation of highways, trains, cars, etc., around the edges of the panel. They’re very engaging, even if just for geometric intrigue, but they represent something deeper.




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