Painter, ceramicist weave ‘thread of life’ into works
For centuries, artists have found mysteries, answers and inspiration in the natural world around them. Aristotle said, “Art takes nature as its model.” The result of this symbiosis can take many forms.
When Charles Jones looks out from his front porch at the pastoral landscape surrounding Sweetwater Farm, between Jonesborough and Johnson City, onto his painter’s canvas flow blindfolded giraffes, blazing zebras and birdlike and mythical creatures of all shapes, sizes and juxtapositions.
Jim Oxandale steps onto his deck, high above Hwy. 81 and the state’s oldest town, to gaze on layers of mountains and a bevy of birds at feeders. He walks inside to his pottery wheel, and from his fingertips fly luna moths and carpenter and honeybees. Colorful catfish, frogs and koi slowly begin to swim ’round his clay bowls.
Jones’ acrylic paintings and Oxandale’s art pottery will be on exhibit Friday, Dec. 9, through Jan. 27 at Jonesborough’s McKinney Center, 103 Franklin Ave., as part of the Mary B. Martin Program For the Arts 2016 Artist Exhibition Series. The opening reception is also Friday, Dec. 9, from 6-8 p.m., and all are free and open to the public.
“When I put together this artist exhibition series I knew that Jim and Charles would be a natural match,” says Director of the McKinney Center Theresa Hammons. “Although their mediums are completely different their color palette, themes and inspiration are extremely similar. Their art is moving, beautiful and masterful.”
Despite their differing choices of media, that natural thread connects the two artists, their contemporaries and many who have gone before them.
“I think all life has a beautiful thread running through it that’s connected, and that’s what you’re looking for as an artist,” says Jones, who was painting portraits of his brothers by age 7 and holds degrees in sculpture and painting.
“Mother Nature is the best artist we have,” says Oxandale, who started in watercolor, turning to pottery as a young professional. “She comes up with some of the most interesting and beautiful creatures, and transferring them to a pot is kind of fun and challenging. It’s actually very challenging.”
Jones will have about 30 pieces and Oxandale close to 20 in the McKinney Center exhibition. Jones’ paintings, he says, will range from as large as 72 inches by 54 inches to 10-by-10 inches. As a longtime fine-art framer, Jones will bring that artistry, as well, to the show, crafting and framing all his paintings himself with various handmade finishes.
Oxandale’s work will include art pottery and what he calls functional pieces, including platters, bowls, cups and vases, as well as “showy” pieces. His techniques include wax resist and handcrafting patterns in the design to add texture and dimension, as well as hand-shaping and painting special handles.
“Sometimes I envy other artists,” says Oxandale, who has two kilns in his home studio where he fires away, “because, with painting, you put your paint on the canvas and you can see instantly what it looks like and what it’s going to look like when you’re done. But ceramics is less predictable. The glazes interact with each other, and every fire is different and there are so many variables. But when a piece turns out the way you wanted it to turn out, it’s real satisfying.”
Having been exhibited at The Collective and other galleries in Kansas, Oxandale’s ceramics can now be found locally at Art Curious and Piece by Piece, as well as online at oxhollowpottery.com.
Jones has shown his work extensively, including locally at Reece Museum and with Kimsey-Miller Gallery in Seattle, and his work hangs now in Mr. K’s Books in Johnson City, Knoxville and Charleston, S.C.
“Hopefully art – that I make and the art that I look at – can be transformational,” Jones says. “It gives you something even if you’re not sure what …” Jones says. “It should be powerful, but I’m enough of a visual person to want it to be just good to look at … I want it to be somehow just physically beautiful. I strive for that.”
Some of Oxandale and Jones’ work will be on sale at the exhibition. For more information, contact Theresa Hammons, McKinney Center director, at 423-753-0562.