Jon Sarkin is a prolific, even compulsive artist who creates elaborate drawings and paintings cluttered with words and images. His work has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, ABC Primetime, This American Life, GQ, ArtNews, The American Visionary Art Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.
Jon Sarkin: Line by Line is the artist’s first solo show in Boston. In 2006 he was one of 13 artists the deCordova included in their prestigious Annual exhibition. For that exhibition the museum replicated the artist’s studio for an installation titled Infinity’s Trial. At the time Nick Capasso, curator at the deCordova, was quoted as saying "I'm interested in Jon's work not because he had this weird stroke and he's this
interesting, bohemian guy or because Tom Cruise gives a crap about him, I'm interested in him because he's creating really interesting work." (Tom Cruise’s production company has purchased the film rights to Jon Sarkin’s story.)
Jon Sarkin: Line by Line is organized by Boston curator Lorri Berenberg in association Ruthann Traylor. Berenberg says the exhibition showcases three series of works by the artist: large-scale mixed media portraits dramatically rendered on sheets
of unstretched canvas; intimately drawn pastel portraits on board; and mixed media drawings on canvas that burst with a combination words and images.
Often working from photographs, Sarkin’s large portraits are richly textured with layers of flowing lines
and colors. The results are both raw and beautiful. As if taking a breather from the physical and emotional energy is necessary to create these paintings, the smaller canvases reveal themselves more like stream of consciousness. In contrast to the portraits, these works are crowded with names of famous artists and writers, references to music and popular culture, and mysterious cartoon-like characters
challenging the viewer to piece together the puzzle.
Earlier this year Pulitzer Award winning author Amy Ellis Nutt published a biography of Jon Sarkin titled: Shadows Bright as Glass: The Remarkable Story of One Man's Journey from Brain Trauma to Artistic Triumph. Both Amy and Jon were on hand for a reception at VSA Massachusetts’ Open Door Gallery on January 19. They also discussed Jon’s artwork and their collaboration.
VSA Massachusetts, an affiliate of VSA, a program of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is the state organization on art and disability, founded by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. Their Open Door Gallery is a forum for the work of professional artists with disabilities and is at 89 South Street in Boston. VSA
Massachusetts is supported in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency and the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation. This exhibit is also sponsored by Third Sector New England.