John Allston Sargent III: Through the Veil of Knowing
Through the Veil of Knowing
A Patron stands before a show of paintings of and by an artist who stands honored and vulnerably exposed. The Patron inquires, “So, tell me: what is this work about? -- what inspired it?” The artist -- familiar with this scenario and having an infinite array of clever , passionate, well-reasoned responses available -- replies, “Precisely…and Thank you.” (A sly joke if you will.)
I never would have guessed when I was younger that the way I paint, or for that matter think or walk, is simply the way I do it. When I accept this I grow; when I don’t…I don’t. Samuel Beckett said, “Try again - fail again - fail better.” There is always more! A friend once said, “How long does a ‘Pig’ take?” The question posed here is one that a Zen Master would offer a student; it applies to everything. I am still working on this question myself.
As an artist, I have a gift. I am of late taking more time to honor it. I am looking for new ways to share that gift so that it flourishes.
For me, Life is only the Big Questions -- the ones that arise out of consciousness: Why are we? Who are we? Is there a purpose? As I get older it isn’t the answers to such existential questions that mean much of anything; rather, it is the quality of the “conversation.”
For the viewer – just as it is for the Artist -- the eyes do not see objects. They see reflected light, the presence and absence of which forms our evolving world view. This reflected light I paint in a representational style, inspired in particular by such Old Masters as DaVinci, Rembrandt,Titian and Turner. When I began painting it was enough to create a likeness. Today that is the least of my concerns. A painting must now stand on its own and speak for itself.
Color and light are very important to me. The consequence of the creative process is also most important. Since a painting is the accumulation of thoughts built up through networks of marks in relationship to one another, a finished painting becomes imbued with its own ‘life.’ That life has a visual voice.
What we can see, what we can experience is limited by our senses but also limited by our willingness and openness to that experience. I am most interested in the unknowable, the other-ness, that which is beyond comprehension……..not expressed as fantasy, but as a reality of the present moment.
I have tried narrative painting but today I allow the narrative to create itself. The dialogue between the viewer and the work before them is always evolving.
I am convinced that Fine Art serves a much larger purpose to our greater human culture. Fine Art is the gift that gives us a constant opportunity to discover and re-discover ourselves. It’s a cliché but the undertow is huge.
Fine Art being the context in which we as artists have the opportunity to see ourselves, is all mythology: We make it up as we go along….our created art keeps evolving….as the world turns, so do we.
I agree with the often stated artist’s credo: “I painted this because I could not say it; if I could say it I would never have bothered painting it.” I was recently asked: what I will paint next? I have no idea. These recent paintings are emerging conversations. They are not conclusions. Ask me today, and I will say what I have to say. In a month, in a year, it will all change.
I’ve come to realize that my art will only ever be seen but as a small piece of the larger story of us all. I had an experience years ago of standing at the ocean shore upon very old ruins, facing the setting sun. It was getting cold. I got the sense I was present to an invitation, that for hundreds perhaps thousands of years individuals and communities had experienced the same moment consumed by their hopes and fears and in the process making choices, living, dying etc. Their stories and meanings are gone, but the communion of the journey just keeps going. As an artist, I live in the hope that my art will do so as well.
~ J. A. Sargent, III
Born: Cleveland, Ohio
Education: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Cert.
Cleveland State University, BA
Kent State University, MFA
Ohio Art Prize for painting- 2009
PNC Bank, Cleveland, Ohio - 6 paintings
Cleveland State University - 5 paintings
Targetronics Corp., Solon, Ohio - 4 paintings
One Man Exhibitions
2012 - Tregoning and Company, Cleveland, Ohio
2010 - Beachwood Community Center Gallery, Beachwood, OH
2009 - 1point618 Gallery, Cleveland
2008 - Stocker Center Gallery, LCCC, Elyria, OH
2007 - Asterisk Gallery, Cleveland
2007 - The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City
2006 - The Pennello Gallery, Cleveland
2005 - ArtMetro Gallery, Cleveland
2003 - ArtMetro Gallery, Cleveland
2002 - ArtMetro Gallery, Cleveland
2000 - Powerhouse Art Gallery, Cleveland
1998 - Powerhouse Art Gallery, Cleveland
1996 - Powerhouse Art Gallery, Cleveland
1993 - Propaganza Gallery, Cleveland
1992 - Powerhouse Art Gallery, Cleveland
1992 - Marquette Street Gallery, Cleveland
1990 - Chelsea Art Gallery, Beachwood, OH
1989 - Valley Art Center, Chagrin Falls, OH
1988 - Gersted Gallery, E. Village, NYC
1987 - The Milkbar, W. Village, NYC
1987 - Avenue A Gallery, E. Village, NYC
1986 - Siesta Key Gallery, Sarasota, FL
1985 - Beulahland, E. Village, NYC
1984 - Simone Gallery, Soho, NYC
1983 - Gallery of the American College, Bryn Mawr, PA
1982 - Zippers, NYC1982 - Doshi Gallery, Harrisburg, PA
1981 - The Painted Bride Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1979 - Gallery of the L.A. County Superintendent of Schools
1978 - Les Mouches, NYC
2011 - Butler Museum 75th mid-year show, (juried), Youngstown, OH
2011 - The Zanesville Art Museum mid-year show (juried), Zanesville, Ohio
2010 - BayArts 48th annual juried show, Bay Village, OH
2010 - Salute to the Butler mid-year show, Tregoning and Co. Gallery, Cleveland
2010 - The Butler Institute Mid-Year Show (juried show), Youngstown, OH
2009 - OOVAR (juried show), Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH
2009 - The Sandusky Cultural Center "Fresh Paint"
2006 - The Edge Gallery, (juried competition for Cleveland State University alumni, Best of Show award)
2005 - The Edge Gallery, Cleveland
2004 - The Edge Gallery, Cleveland
2003 - Cleveland Photography Biennial, Cleveland State University
2003 - The Edge Gallery, (juried competition for Cleveland State University alumni, 1st place)
2002 - The Dead Horse Gallery, Cleveland
1991 - Chelsea Art Gallery, Beachwood, OH
1989 - Valley Art Center, Chagrin Falls, OH
1987 - Hiro's Gallery, E. Village, NYC
1987 - Mission Gallery, NYC
1987 - Jon Gersted Gallery - E. Village, NYC
1985 - Kamikazi Club, Soho, NYC
1984 - Frank Bernaducci Gallery, NYC
1983 - The Drawing Center, Soho, NYC
1983 - Andrew Crispo Gallery, NYC
1981 - Andrew Crispo Gallery, NYC
1980 - Philadelphia Art Alliance
1978 - Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
1976 - Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
1976 - Peale House Gallery, Philadelphia
1976 - Woodmere Gallery, Woodmere, PA