Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Can a self-taught tissue paper mosaicist blend into the Washington Color School?

Bryan Jernigan says yes! One of six kids growing up in Oklahoma in the 70's, Jernigan was introduced to art by his mom, a painter and quilter. And as the only one of his siblings who continued with art (albeit on a part-time basis), Jernigan's making big impressions with his tissue paper mosaics.

About two years ago, Jernigan began exploring his art interests with his jeweler wife, friends in the art community, and area art associations. He was told his work wasn't something one saw every day; a fact that has worked positively for him. His recent submissions to a color field competition judged by Sam Gilliam, won Jernigan two Equal Awards (the top 11 entries). The competition was held in advance of an upcoming Irreplaceable Hue show at Arlington's Cassatt's Cafe & Gallery. Opening reception is scheduled December 2, 2007 4:30 - 7:30.

Of 100 entries, about two-thirds of the works were selected by Gilliam for their influence or reflection upon the Washington Color School. When asked about Jernigan's acrylic piece, Vent et Pluie (shown left), he says it was definately color inspired. Whereas his tissue mosaics have hard edges and a graphic feel, Jernigan wanted to try different techniques reminiscent of Morris Louis' work with thinned acylic paint-like washes ... overlapping vials of paint.

Dansl'eau "In The Water," (shown left) is a Jernigan tissue mosaic not featured in the show. Jernigan first constructs cuts tissue paper pieces and then assembles them like a puzzle into various shapes, mostly triangular and rectangular. Jernigan says his work is non-representative, although it has been likened to space-age 1960's, funky-hippie, and similar to something that might hang over Dick Van Dyke's fireplace. Jernigan denies any political meaning; rather he'd like to have fun.

"I want to let people see things in a new way with color and simplicity. I want people to look at my work and imagine what it means to them. It's there for the purpose of being art. People respond to color in different ways; they respond to color and placement. It's like a maze. I'm interested in seeing the paths and avenues created by the color."

Jernigan points to the field of DNA mapping where X and Y axis are converted to color shades as being in the embrionic stages of his artistic thinking. He says he finds himself attracted to geographic maps, aerial views, and digitized maps of cities and surrounding areas. Perhaps this accounts for his top down approach and his reluctance to work with circle shapes.

"Circles with tissue paper are just a nightmare. I once did a series of small works involving landscapes and trees, very simple as an experiment. People were more willing to purchase them because they felt more comfortable with them - landscapes are something you can safely hang in the dining room in Washington, DC. I'm not sure I'd want to do that again."

Jernigan seeks a group of abstract artists, either in a studio or community setting, where he can feel comfortable to create and be much like his predecessors: Davis, Mehring, Downing, and Reed. These well known Washington Color Scholars exhibited periodically at Jefferson Place Gallery and subsequently expanded their influence. They achieved a dominant presence in the Washington DC visual art community from the 1960s to the 1970s; Jernigan hopes his name will be added in the 2000s.