Painter and sculptor Jonas Gerard lives in Asheville, North Carolina. His incredible work bursts with color, and his live painting demonstrations blur the lines between visual art and performance.
I enjoyed my opportunity to learn more about Gerard’s background.
Jason: How did you get your start in art?
Jonas Gerard: I started by exhibiting at the Greenwich Village Art Festival in NYC in 1957 at the age of 16.
J: Did your family encourage your art?
JG: My mother encouraged my art. She was a fashion embroiderer in Casablanca, Morocco.
J: How much art related education do you have?
JG: None. I am self-taught. I educate myself with a large collection of art books, and visiting galleries and museums whenever possible.
J: Are there other artists in your family?
JG: My daughter, Mira Gerard, is the Chair of the Art School at East Tennessee State University. She is an accomplished artist.
J: What is your medium?
JG: Painting and sculpture. I use mostly acrylics. I also do collage and use mixed media and found objects.
J: Describe your style and subject matter
JG: Currently mostly Abstract Expressionism, with a few expressionist landscapes.
J: How did you develop your style?
JG: I developed my style over the course of 50 plus years as a working artist.
J: What drew you to your subject matter?
JG: As the inner need came to grow out of representational subject matter, my inner voice clearly pointed to abstraction.
J: What do you feel is unique about your work?
JG: Over the years I have developed a keen sense of composition and color coordination. This experience has allowed for my process of being spontaneously creative without any planning.
An important aspect is painting quickly, translating inspiration to canvas and eliminating any opportunities for second thoughts or regrets. The end result happens by itself: it’s always a beautiful surprise, a reward for letting go of concern about the results and opinions of others.
J: When did you sell your first artwork?
JG: At age 16.
J: Are you a full-time artist?
JG: Yes, for 60 years.
J: How do you promote and expose your work to potential buyers?
JG: Over the years I have used every possible method of marketing myself.
Through my two galleries in Asheville, I currently have a thriving fine art business dedicated to selling my art. I have a full time staff covering all aspects of the art business including management, marketing, sales and studio assistants. My work is marketed through my website, social media, newsletter and other efforts.
J: What do you feel has been your greatest challenge in selling your work?
JG: In the past I have found that the traditional Artist / gallery relationship simply did not work for me. I found success promoting my own work, first through years of art festivals and ultimately by owning and operating my own dedicated gallery.
J: What do you feel you’ve been most successful at in your art, and in your art business?
JG: Allowing the creative energy to come through me as honestly as possible. My task is to be released from the pressure of performance, interpretation, comparison, and judgment.
People seem to quickly develop an emotional response to my art. In addition, I encourage the public to “touch the art,” to feel the tactile sensation of running their fingers over the textures in my paintings. This allows for a connection to the art that you will not find in most galleries.
J: What other jobs have you held?
JG: After graduating with a mechanical AAS degree, I held a couple of jobs in various industrial fields, which brought me no satisfaction whatsoever. What gave me great satisfaction was showing my work in the streets of New York. This quickly became financially rewarding beyond my imagination.
J: How much time do you spend in the studio on an average week?
JG: I live and work in the studio. A day hardly goes by without me painting.
J: Do you have a daily routine?
JG: No. I paint when the inspiration comes, which is quite often, no matter what time of day or night.
J: How much work do you produce per month on average?
JG: More than you can count on your fingers and toes.
J: Who is your favorite artist from art history, and which of their works is your favorite?
JG: Willem de Kooning – February, Pallisade, both painted in 1957, and Door to the River, painted in 1960.
J: What are your interests outside of your art?
JG: Meditation. I have traveled the world many times over, but the experience of painting has outlasted any other worldly pursuits.
J: Thanks, Jonas. To see more of Jonas Gerard’s work, visit his website, http://www.jonasgerard.com.