The art world’s terms for my art box sculptures are mixed media, assemblage or box sculpture. The generic category for my artwork is “outsider folk art” which only means that I am not a formally trained artist.
Call them what you will, my art boxes are inspired by Joseph Cornell whose work I first enjoyed over 35 years ago at the Chicago Art Institute. And, in the 1980s, within walking distance of 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.
Reflecting my interest in the art of the written word, each of my boxes is tombstoned with a quotation that invites us to think…or laugh. Not that it matters to your perception of the work itself, but my all-time favorite playwright is George Bernard Shaw, but 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. To pour some creative perspective into myself, I frequently listen to Barbra Streisand sing Putting It Together.
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.)
In addition to conjuring up the visual 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 am a Distinguished Artist in Residence which, in case you are wondering, only means that I work at home. View from my studio pictured above. Also, I’m told that my art work is so highly regarded that in the United Kingdom there is national holiday named for it: Boxing Day.
My box sculptures are in the private art collections of…well, 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.
To make our world a better place, 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 career in social justice work, 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.