Today we’d like to introduce you to John Randall Nelson.
John Randall, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was born in Princeton, Illinois, southwest of Chicago. I moved to Arizona to study at Arizona State University. After I finished my MFA in 1996, I committed full time to art making. With forays into design and illustration, I eventually settled into a practice that focuses on painting and public art.
My earliest exposure to visual art involved visits to the Art Institute of Chicago. Growing up near Chicago the earliest work that influenced me was the “Chicago Imagist” paintings of Jim Nutt, Roger Brown and Karl Wirsum. They exhibited at Phyllis Kind Gallery and I was fascinated by the bawdy wit and satire of their work.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
The ideas originate in decades of collected images and objects; a personal inventory from searching and collecting. The paintings are distilled renderings of that process, built up in multiple layers of accumulated paint and collage. It starts below the surface and percolates up from there. It’s intended to create a facade of history and meaning, the passing years, the accumulation of concepts, trends, patterns of success, patterns of failure, modes accepted and modes rejected.
Hidden under the simplicity is a hybrid-like complex of allusions and ideas. The process, first and foremost, considers what the paint is striving for, you search for the areas where it wants to appear or fade away. It’s a method to charge the painting with pre-existing material, like textiles, pages from printed books, and other elements – to force the eye in different directions and create juxtaposed messages. First you need to destroy everything and then very quickly remake it again, from the beginning. It’s a process of starting and stopping that provokes perpetual retakes, the essential dilemma of painting.
What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
That depends on how you define success. As an artist, probably just surviving, keeping it all going, being able to start the day and end the day working on your own projects and your own ideas.
Then it’s just persistence, a curious mind, some street smarts and a way to fight off anxiety. I have a good support system in my family, they try to keep me grounded.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Events coming up? I just finished a solo exhibition titled “An American Vernacular” at the University of Arkansas. The work was heavily influenced by the political debacle that we are living in.
We just installed “One-eyed Jack”, a giant white rabbit and public art project for The City of Scottsdale and we are just finishing up a public art piece for The City of Mesa titled “Fifty One Haikus”.
Where would one go to see more of my work?
You can see my paintings at Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, FP Contemporary in Culver City, Stremmel Gallery in Reno, Sue Greenwood Gallery in Laguna Beach or Gebert Contemporary in Scottsdale.
- Website: whonelson.com nelsonpublicart.com
- Phone: 480-862-9460
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whonelson
All photos are by John Randall Nelson.