Jon Coffelt is a cool artist who lives in New York City. To me, http://joncoffelt.com/home.html his paintings are intricate, geometric and seem somehow scientific. Are they actually? I asked him about that …
“…My work is about allowing the viewer into my unconsciousness through this meditation I call my work. When I'm working, I'm divorced from my surroundings and my sense of reality. I ask the viewer to suspend as well …”
MICHAEL: Hey Jon, I find all of your work very intriguing. It gives me a strong sense of life. I get the feeling that you like molecules, molecular details and how things are made and how they work on tiny levels. I don't know. How do you see this?
JON: I've always loved science, specifically quantum physics and black-hole theory. Much of my work reflects these principals, along with the idea of chaos from order and order from chaos.
JON: My most recent pieces reflect continuums and singularities. By applying patterns within this framework, I'm asking the viewer to continue my implied infinities.
MICHAEL: Most people who look at your work probably don't know much about quantum physics, black hole theory or implied infinities, let alone art. Does this mean your work is mainly intellectual and scholarly? How can everyday people relate to your work?
JON: While I utilize these principles, people relate to my work through composition and color. That being said, many viewers do understand that there are underlying structures that may not be present to the naked eye. I like that people question my ideas. I like inviting the viewer into my process.
MICHAEL: Is your process mainly driven by emotion, intellect or spirit? Are you exploring questions, expressing emotions or transcending into some alternate state and manifesting that into the work?
JON: I've always thought my work was about intellect, but through the years it had changed quite a bit. My work is very spiritual and to me, it's an emotional release, a meditation if you will. I've noticed that in my Cosmos series even the clothing I'm wearing dictates how tight the dots are and their size.
On another level, I feel my work takes on a more comical feel when I use duct-tape as my medium. Repetition of the same units over and over in a spiraling pattern dissolve and break down once the units begin to touch each other as they become larger and larger. It's here that the units’ construct breaks down and dissolves.
MICHAEL: I see lots of movement and activity in your work even though it's static. Your paintings could easily translate to video and 3D installations. What do you think?
JON: I think one of the reasons you see movement and activity in my work is because I use a lot of colors with their polar opposites. Also, with some of my work, repetition plays that role. I have had many people ask me if I do video work and so far I haven't. I will be exploring that in the near future. I have had a couple of 3D installations and my work has been used by performance artists. I have even had my work projected onto various buildings in downtown Manhattan.
MICHAEL: New York remains the dream place to be for many artists. However, we also know the harsh realities. How are you managing life in New York? Could you do the same work somewhere else? Would your quality of life be different or better somewhere else?
JON: I moved to New York City to further my career as an artist. New York can be harsh, but it offers so many (more) opportunities than anywhere in the country including museums, theater and music venues, not to mention its artists and art galleries.
Life isn't always easy in New York. Culturally, there is always something to do, but at the same time there are things you are always missing. It's a strange dynamic that I've had to get used to.
My work changed dramatically once I moved here. It became much more dynamic and complex and it's still changing with all the energy and complexities along with the city.
I don't think I could live in a small town again because I wouldn't have everything at my fingertips like I do here in New York.
I don't know anywhere I'd rather live than here. I'm grounded. It's my home.
MICHAEL: What is it about small towns? I don't want to stereotype all small towns, but do you think they inspire or stifle you? So many of the artists I speak with find cities more inspiring and challenging.
JON: I grew up in a small town. Actually mine was a community not even a town. It was located on top of a mountain with scenic views on a scenic highway between Chattanooga and Nashville. I never felt stifled.
I stayed busy outside playing in the woods and visiting relatives and friends on shady porches. Summers were always outside barefooted doing something interesting. One summer, my grandfather brought us a couple of hundred wooden fence posts and dumped them in the back yard. All summer long we built houses and forts from these posts and played with them for hours. Life was never dull.
I'm personally inspired by many things I grew up with. My grandfather was an artist and he is the person who taught me how to paint. He was a great influence to me then and now. My sense of color and their effects came from him. I loved my childhood.
I also find cities inspiring. Mainly because cities afford opportunities that small towns can't, it's the amenities that small towns can't compete with, but I think cities are good because you aren't always traveling on the road to get what you need.
MICHAEL: Is the internet helping you as an artist? Galleries are certainly feeling the pinch from online art sites. What do you make of all of this?
JON: The internet certainly helps. I run my own website and I make a lot of my sales through my site. The internet is also a platform that can be used to inform one's work. I love seeing what fellow artists are doing without having to go to each and every studio. It's gratifying in many ways, but I do think there are times that the internet makes us lazy and keeps us from socializing in real time.
MICHAEL: In the retail world, online sales continue to hurt brick and mortar stores. This is also happening to galleries. Do you think galleries could become obsolete? Of course, we love galleries, but the fact remains that most people in the world will never visit one.
JON: The fact does remain that most people will never visit an art gallery, but I don't think art galleries will become obsolete. I do think they will continue to change to meet the needs of their clients. I think they will become more like editors of collections rather than just exhibiting artwork.
Everyone knows that the current art fair circuit is unsustainable and galleries have already taken on the role as editors so the changes have already begun. This is not necessarily a bad thing as artists still need galleries to exhibit and promote their work.
MICHAEL: Finally Jon, What would you say is the overall message of your work? Also, what are your goals as an artist for the future?
JON: My work is about allowing the viewer into my unconsciousness through this meditation I call my work. When I'm working, I'm divorced from my surroundings and my sense of reality. I ask the viewer to suspend as well.
My goals are to continue my artistic journey. I want to continually grow as an artist, pushing my boundaries and stretching my practice into new areas that will allow me to grow as a person. I hope the future is bright and inviting for my work.
MICHAEL: I’m sure it will be. Thanks Jon. Nice chat.
JON: Thank you. You had some very interesting questions. I appreciate that. Thank you again. I appreciate it.
Check out Jon at http://joncoffelt.com/home.html.