Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'REALISM WITH TEETH'; Not Much Is 'Abstract' about Latest Exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville: 'It's Real Life, Real People,' Curator Says of New Show

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'REALISM WITH TEETH'; Not Much Is 'Abstract' about Latest Exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville: 'It's Real Life, Real People,' Curator Says of New Show

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

To many people the term "contemporary art" means abstract art, an association that was cemented in the late 1940s and early 1950s when the work of the abstract expressionists made New York City one of the world's great art centers.

But realism never completely went away. In the past few years, Ben Thompson, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, began noticing a growing trend among young American artists to create works in a style that Jason John, an assistant professor of painting at the University of North Florida, calls "realism with teeth."

"It's often gritty," Thompson said. "These works are not always necessarily idealized views. It's real life, real people."

This contemporary realism is the subject of "Get Real: New American Painting," the latest exhibition at MOCA. It brings together the work of eight young American artists, among them John.

"I couldn't not include Jason's work," Thompson said. "He's prolific and well known on the national scene."

The other artists in the show are:

- Haley Hasler: Born in 1971 in Colorado, Hesler earned her master's degree in fine arts from Boston University. She has received a Fulbright Grant and is a three-time winner of the Elizabeth Greenshields Award

- Andrea Kowch: Born in Michigan in 1986, Kowch earned her bachelor's degree from Detroit's College for Creative Studies.

- Bryan LeBoeuf: LeBoeuf, who grew up in rural Louisiana, earned a master's of fine arts from the New York Academy of Art in 2000.

- Jenny Morgan: Born in 1982 in Salt Lake City, Morgan earned her master's from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

- Kevin Muente: Born in Milwaukee in 1971, Muente earned his master's in painting from the University of Cincinnati.

- Frank Orti: Born in 1983 and raise in Parma, Ohio, Orti earned a master's in painting from Ohio State Unversity. He won the Cleveland Art Prize Emerging Artist Award in 2013.

- Kevin Peterson: Born in Elko, Nev., Peterson moved to Texas in 1996 and earned degrees in fine art and psychology from Austin College in Sherman, Texas.

'HUGE EXPLOSION'

John was born in 1980 in Detroit and grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania. He earned his bachelor's in painting at Kutztown Unversity and his master's in painting and drawing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

While attending community college from 2000 to 2002, he studied painting under Anthony Waichulis at The Waichulis Studio (now Ani Art Academies) in Nanticoke, Pa.

That studio was part of what he called "a huge explosion of ateliers," a French term for a place where people go to study under a master artist. The emphasis at the Waichulis Studio was concentrating on craft and learning technique.

Reflecting the dominance of abstract styles in American art for most of the 20th century, the people John studied under as an undergraduate and graduate student were mostly abstract artists. …

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