Posts Tagged ‘painter’

Jonathan’s work focuses on relationships. Each morning, he and his wife, sit under a red umbrella, sipping coffee. Together with friends, they discuss politics, art, books and the weather. Jonathan believes that “Nothing stands alone in this universe, all actions touch something else, and there is nothing inconsequential or petty about life.” He is a painter, sculptor and philosopher.

It took Jonathan a few weeks to warm up to the idea of being photographed. He is a private man and enjoys creating in the solitude of his home. He has a fragrant view from his workshop, the smell of the chamisa and sage mixed pleasantly with the aroma of his pipe tobacco. Jonathan’s work is composed of figures and forms of sculpted areas of color interact and overlay each other, effecting each other and transmuting their interactions into yet another relationship.
The beguilingly simple forms and compositions become richer and more meaningful as the eye moves fluidly through the canvas. Ones physical tensions become lessened by the calmness emanating from the surfaces. His paintings seem to live in parallel universes simultaneously, the forms at first seem normal and familiar, but shift with time into a dimension which although familiar is undeniably different from our routine sense of reality.



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Born in Bari, Italy, raised in New York’s Lower East Side and joined the Air Force at age 17 during the Korean War. He attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, majoring in illustration. He later got a job in Pittsburgh as an industrial illustrator and then in California for Lockheed and Disney Productions (working on the classic “Mary Poppins”). Inspired by a Nicoli Fechin exhibit, he quit illustration and moved to Taos in 1969. Ray’s first home/studio in Taos was the historic Martinez Hacienda on Lower Ranchitos Road. He helped form the Taos Six with Walt Gonske, Ron Barsano, Julian Robles, Robert daughters and Rod Goebel. Vinella is one of the grand old masters of Taos, having instructed a large portion of the younger painters in the Taos area. Ray continues to paint and mentor younger painters in the area of oil painting.

In 2001, after 24 years together, Vinella lost his wife, abstract painter Leslie Crespin. I met and photographed him after he had moved from his home and into a retirement home. Leslie’s face recured in every room, in paint and on film, her arms thrown around Vinella or alone. In his poignant egg tempera piece, Portrait of Leslie, she is still with him, as she walks along a fence line in a meadow alone, wearing a long blue dress, hands clasped behind her back, her golden head bent.

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I had not known Ron Barsano before I contacted him about this project. He cheerfully and enthusiastically told me to “come out to his place”. He has a wonderful studio built next to his home, down a long dusty road. The room is dominated buy large windows and LATILLAS (la-tee-yas), Small branches of cedar, aspen or juniper placed between vigas to form a ceiling. There is a sleeping deck and a fireplace that are typical to serious artists, in Taos, who work late into the night. His nudes are some of the most beautiful I had ever seen. Ron is orgionally from Chicago, Illinois and studied at The American Academy of Fine Art in Chicago. He etablished himself in an art community in Taos, in 1970. He was a founding member, along with Ray Vinella, the late Rod Goebel, Walt Gonske, Bob Daughters, and Julian Robles, of the Taos 6 Contemporary Artists in the early 1970s.


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Before having the chance to visit all of these artists studios, I never really thought much about how “low tech” most art is. For painters, the basic principles can be traced all the way back to our caveman days. The first people to paint a picture, inside caves, were using the same basic tools painters use today. Sculpting is the same. Once the principles of carving rock, and later poring metal, were understood by our ancestors the technology stopped. In fact, we may have even lost some knowledge along the way.

Recently, I was reading an article about the restoration of the Parthenon. Some of the work requires hand tools to be used for the shaping and carving of the marble columns. It is thought, that the hand tools they used to build the Parthenon were better than what we would use today. But, what they didn’t have was the long history to draw upon.

What I find fascinating about the low tech nature of art is it rarely looks low tech when finished. Even the way art is defined; Contemporary, Avant-garde, Cutting edge, makes it seem new. Yet, the processes involved are usually pretty tame. It is the mind of the artist that makes the work look fresh, different, and modern. Even when replicating a style done hundreds of years ago, the artist can’t help but to modernize and update it – just a bit.

Artists are always able to stand on the shoulders of those who came before and re-interpret the world. At their best paintings, sculptures or photographs make us react emotionally. Art is capable of making us mad, angry, happy, and can cover a range of emotion. But, in the end, it is just canvas, metal, or a photograph. A static piece of art that moves us.

In the panoramic photos I take, I try to remember it isn’t always about the artists artwork. My photograph is a poor representation of their original artwork. The photograph is meant to allow you to see the baseball collection, the stuffed goat, the pets. The things the artist uses to produce work isn’t the paint brush, the clay or the camera, it is his view of the world. Often they collect things that show us their point of view. Sometimes, the room is close to empty, my guess is, they are creating everything in their mind. And I find that just as interesting.

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