The art world’s relevant terms for my boxes are mixed media, assemblage or box sculpture. Whatever you call them, my art box sculptures are inspired by Joseph Cornell whose work I first enjoyed over 35 years ago at the Chicago Art Institute. And, full disclosure, in the 1980s, within walking distance from the California State Capitol, I launched City Gallery so who knows how many up and coming contemporary Northern California artists have influenced me.
The majority of my materials are found ephemera or reclaimed objects which simply means that many days of the week I can be found rummaging through junkyards, thrift shops, yard sales and the occasional antique collectibles fair. Other days, I am buying tiny nails, little screws and the like in hardware stores. And then, of course, there are frequent trips to artist supply shops to buy paint, colorful papers and the over-priced, oddly-shaped brush. What appears to be even more entertaining for me than making art is shopping. Sigh.
Reflecting my interest in the art of the written word, each of my boxes is tombstoned with a noteworthy quotation that, in some unknown way, tickles me. Not that it matters, but my all-time favorite playwright is George Bernard Shaw, although I try not to over-quote him. I easily could. My favorite sculptor is Rodin. I don’t have a single favorite painter, but of late, Kerry James Marshall lights me up. Oh yes, I also go nuts over neon signage, but don’t usually care for neon art.
I work under the patient supervision of my cat named Marshmallow.
(Not that her name matters. Even to her. Unless food bribed, she doesn’t respond to the spoken word.)
People seem curious about how long it takes me to make an art box. Not including conjuring up the idea itself, a single box requires approximately two weeks from inception to completion. In hours, I’m guessing 25 to 35 hours of actual production.
The big variable is how long the various glues take to dry. Speaking of glue, it is almost certainly a misnomer to call me an artist. Glueist is closer to the truth of it. Call me a glueist.
I’m told that my art work is so highly regarded in England, as well as selected other Commonwealth countries, that there is national holiday called Boxing Day.
My box sculptures are in the private art collections of…well, too numerous to mention here, but check out More Art Boxes for the specific pieces and who acquired them. I am not (yet) represented by an art gallery.
To discuss my art, email me: Jonathan@JonathanCLewis.com.
Importantly, if you are a Northern California arts organization or social justice nonprofit, and if you would like one of my art boxes donated to sell, raffle or auction at your next fundraiser, please reach out.
P.S. Unrelated to the art world, if you are looking for my book on a social justice career, click your way over to The Unfinished Social Entrepreneur. To check out the book’s Table of Contents (and some nice things readers have said about the book), click here. And, for good measure, here is the Community Conversation Guide.