- JON BARLOW HUDSON -
I have been creating large-scale projects for public environments since 1976, throughout Ohio, the States and in 27 countries: 23 throughout China alone. This has provided me with a uniquely broad experience of art & sculpture in many different cultural & architectural contexts. My 1st "% for art" project, POLARIS, was for Miami/Dade in 1979, in Homestead Public Library.
I work on any scale, in a wide range of materials, in various motifs & types of installation. While many of my projects have been in various kinds of metal such as stainless steel; I especially like working with stone. Many of my large-scale projects have involved working with various types of clients in both early & later stages, sometimes developing a project with them. Virtually all have been designed with their intended sites uppermost in mind, within budget & on schedule.
One of the more notable such was working with Expo 88 in Brisbane, Australia, for which I built the 100 ft. high stainless steel PARADIGM, which included 66 airplane lights, representing the DNA structure, axis mundi, world tree & nature.
The mirror--polished stainless steel MORNING STAR II was also commissioned at 15’dia. representing the pole star & the “still point of the turning world”: now reinstalled in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.
One of my China projects is WIND DRAGON created for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, representing the axis mundi & an abstract dragon. My sculpture projects tend to be abstract, often geometric in 1 way or another.
Certain projects might have more literal, humanistic or figurative aspects. My stone sculptures tend to be a balance of natural aspects with human interventions.
I was born in Montana and my first five years were in Casper, Wyoming, so my early years were under the big sky and in wild open spaces. As a child I travelled with my family round the world—my father was a ground water geologist. Our first tour was in Saudi Arabia in the early 50’s, for ARAMCO. From there we went round the world. This experience exposed me to wonderful places: Machu Pichu, Petra, Baalbek, the Colosseum, Chartre, Stonehenge, Sun Moon Lake and the like. I started making my own play things as a child, then photography, then to painting in college, then I transferred to Dayton Art Institute where I began sculpture. From the art institute I made my way to Senegal for a time, then to the Stuttgart Kunst Akademie for a time, at which a motor cycle accident sent me home which led to working as assistant to NY sculptor Charles Ginnever for a year, which in turn led me to the California Institute of the Arts where I received my BFA and MFA. Following this I worked in a northern California gold mine building the equipment for two years. At that point I needed to get back to sculpture, which led to my first MetroDade Percentage for Art commission in 1979 for Homestead Library. Since that project, I have been creating large scale sculpture projects for private, corporate and public sites throughout the States, in 27 different countries—23 throughout China alone.
The first influences are those significant places noted above. Really I am inspired by all the world’s sculpture and art. I learned a lot from Ginnever and also my teachers at Cal-Arts: Alan Kaprow, Paul Brach, Lloyd Hamrol. I am especially inspired by far Eastern arts, and ideas such as mono-ha and wabi-sabi. I really like the aesthetic of Noguchi, but also many other sculptors from Japan and China. In my lifetime of world travels I have befriended many wonderful sculptors that are inspirational: the centre of the art world is not in NYC, it is where I and other sculptors are making art/sculpture.
An art gallerist one told me I should never divulge this—my inspiration is really spiritually based, rather than what might be current in some presumed art centre/scene/world. I am more interested in universals that temporals. I suppose this developed out of my growing up living round the space-ship earth. It also developed mostly out of personal life experience and trying to synthesize my life with what I see/experience /learn about the world/life/art. Life and the world is much too deep and broad to focus too finitely. While at Cal-Arts I learned Yang Taiji Chuan and from that point on my perception of the world, myself and art changed. It became less linear and more centered and holistic. I create works that reflect the dynamics of the world: fluid dynamics or structure, for example; that reflect aspects of nature, our experience of nature; my experience of my being in the world and reaction to it all; my desire to conceptualize and materialize my perceptions. I often utilize a central space within a sculpture, energy and movement of sometimes indicated. If I utilize mirror surfaces that creates other aspects and illusions: my father was Bendu the Magician…..I created his memorial stone with the Chinese magic rings clanging across the top of the stone.
I don’t know if they are actual “styles”, but yes, I have been very eclectic in my interests and in the results of my sculptural works. Back in the 70’s I think it was, I applied to the NEA for a grant, but was told that my work was too inconsistent ! I interpreted that to mean that what gallerists want are consistent, signature works that can be easily sold. Not my cup of tea! As for favorite style, they are all favoured. As noted, my interests are eclectic so I love working with nature, with geometry, with the figure, with what interests me and also, for a commission, with what is pertinent. Which is something the NEA person wasn’t thinking about—when you create a work on commission, it might best be relative to the place/environment/context in which it will reside, rather than a “signature” work. Though obviously lots of museums and folks want their famous artist’s signature works………….one of my “series” is inspired by an ancient Chinese jade ritual object: a “ts’ung tube” or “cong”, symbol of the unity of heaven and earth. Generally a square or rectangular jade form with a round cylindrical space/hole transfixing the stone: yin and yang. Outside often engraved faces or other. Another “series” is inspired by a 6” bronze votive figurine in the Etruscan Museum at Fiesole, above Firenze. It is a timeless, abstract, simplified, lovely female form. She could be walking down the runway in Milano she is so amazing. Another “series” is my “eidolon”, which is Greek for the kernel of an idea, a phantasm.
While I early started working with metals, then graduated to creating may sculptures in stainless steel, which properties I really appreciate, I probably like more working with stone. Stone is a real, actual, natural product of Nature, so while one is working with stone, one is working/dancing with Nature, which is highly satisfying. Just think of how old that stone is, what it was before it became a stone, the process that made it into a stone and its life as a stone until it came into your hands, and where it will go after. Each stone is its own unique entity: character, shape, size, color, hardness, type of stone, not one the same. Wood and clay and even glass might also have these characteristics—I just prefer stone.
A number of my contemporaries at Cal-Arts went to New York to pursue the life of an artist in the city and presumed centre of the “art world”, and indeed became famous. I had spent some time in the city and decided that this was not the environment where I wanted to be, so, despite realizing that the city was where one became “famous” as an artist, I wanted a different, more natural environment for my life. I also did not want to be in an obligatory situation to a gallery—I wanted to be free to follow my own vision and inspirations. As a result, my sculpture has been commissioned throughout the States, with large scale projects in 27 different countries; two major works for World Expo 1988 in Brisbane; a major sculpture for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing; and how many Americans have 23 large-scale public sculptures throughout China? Which in my eye is a very interesting and exciting place for sculpture and art. As for where art, sculpture and the art world are headed, it is beyond my expertise: I do see a lot more works being created using CAD in one form or another; a lot more installation type projects, as opposed to what I create; and a good bit of social-work type art projects. It does not interest me to lead or follow in any of these areas—I am more interested in following my own personal path, vision and interests.
Artonique is an exciting and unique contemporary venue for the display and placement of works of art. Since I am not in a city center, I explore many different venues for sharing my sculpture with the world, and Artonique seems a really interesting possibility.