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Jonny Kelson - Father John Misty

Jonny Kelson
Father John Misty, 2014
[JK.01]
Oil on canvas
30 x 24 in

JONNY KELSON WAS BORN IN THE TWIN CITIES, MINNESOTA IN 1976. GROWING UP, KELSON ATTENDED AN ARTS HIGH SCHOOL FOR MUSIC, AND AFTER GRADUATION RELEASED THREE ALBUMS WITH HIS BAND, CALVIN KRIME. TOURING ALMOST FULL TIME FOR THREE AND A HALF YEARS, THEY WERE SIGNED TO AMPHETAMINE REPTILE RECORDS WHILE THE TRIO OF MEMBERS WERE STILL IN THEIR TEENS. ALTHOUGH THE BAND RECEIVED ACCLAIM, THEY DISBANDED IN 1998. KELSON DECIDED NOT TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MUSIC, FEELING THAT HE HAD NEVER ENVISIONED MAKING HIS LIVING AS A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN. BEGINNING IN 1999, KELSON BEGAN WORK AS A HAIR STYLIST, LEADING HIM TO A SUCCESSFUL CAREER AS ONE OF THE TOP STYLISTS IN MINNEAPOLIS. IN 2007, HE AND HIS WIFE, OPENED UP THEIR OWN SALON, MEZZANINE. IN 2014, THEY RECEIVED THE HONOR OF BEING NAMED “THE BEST SALON/SPA MINNEAPOLIS” BY CITY PAGES.

ALTHOUGH A NASCENT PAINTER, KELSON HAS BEEN COLLECTING LATE 16TH -19TH CENTURY PAINTINGS FOR SEVERAL YEARS. THE WALLS OF HIS HOME AND SALON ARE ADORNED WITH TREASURED ACQUISITIONS FROM AUCTION AND ESTATE SALES. DISPLAYING AN ECLECTIC MIX OF EXPRESSIONLESS FACES, ANGELIC MOTHER FIGURES, TO DIGNIFIED GENTLEMEN AND DEVIOUS CHERUBS; IN ESSENCE, HE HAS BUILT HIS OWN PERSONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY. BEING ABLE TO STUDY THESE WORKS UP CLOSE AND INTIMATELY, HAS PLAYED AN IMMENSE ROLE IN KELSON’S UNDERSTANDING OF PAINTING, MEDIUM AND PROCESS. ASIDE FROM USING A MAGNIFYING GLASS, HE IS ABLE TO TACTILELY EXAMINE EACH BRUSH STROKE, EACH LAYER OF VARNISH THAT IN THE MOST HANDS ON OF MANNERS, WOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED IN A FORMAL CLASS OR MUSEUM.

AS A CHILD, KELSON REMEMBERS VISITING THE MIA (MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ARTS) AND THE WALKER ART CENTER, WHERE HE FIRST SAW LARGE PORTRAIT PAINTINGS BY CHUCK CLOSE, THUS CEMENTING HIS OBSESSION WITH REALISM. HIS PAINTINGS ARE INFLUENCED BY HIS TRAVELS, DIFFERENT ART PERIODS AND STYLES. THE OLD MASTERS SUCH AS VERMEER, REMBRANDT, VAN EYCK, AND CARAVAGGIO PLAY A PROFOUND ROLE IN KELSON’S LOVE OF PORTRAITS AND RELIGIOUS PAINTINGS. HE IS ESPECIALLY DRAWN TO THE DARKER STORIES THEY DEPICT. FASCINATED WITH THE LARGE COMMISSIONS PORTRAYED BY THE CHURCH, KELSON RELATES TO THE PASSION THE ARTISTS THEN MUST HAVE FELT, WHEN HE IS ASKED TO DO A PORTRAYAL OF A DRAMATIC STORY.

HAVING ALWAYS BEEN A BUILDER AND CREATIVE MAKER OF SORTS, IT WASN’T UNTIL MAY 2014 WHEN KELSON FELT COMPELLED TO TRY HIS HAND AT PAINTING. POSSESSING SKILLS OF A STYLIST AIDS KELSON’S PORTRAITS. WITH EACH SITTING, HE IS REQUIRED TO MANEUVER WITH PRECISE AND METICULOUS EFFORT AROUND THE CLIENT’S FACE. THIS ALLOWS HIM THE OPPORTUNITY TO CONSISTENTLY OBSERVE EXPRESSIONS AND SILHOUETTES IN SUCH A WAY THAT INSTINCTIVELY TRANSLATED THROUGH HIS PAINTBRUSH, HE IS ABLE TO ACHIEVE REALISM IN HIS PAINTINGS. KELSON DOES NOT WANT TO IMITATE LIFE IN HIS WORKS BUT ASPIRES FOR HIS PIECES TO COME ALIVE. WHETHER PAINTING A PORTRAIT OR NARRATIVE, WITH EACH WORK, HE INVITES THE VIEWER TO FEEL LIKE THEY ARE A PART OF IT, ENCOURAGING THEM TO DRAW THEIR OWN CONCLUSIONS AS TO THE DIALOGUE OF THE STORY; WHAT HAS HAPPENED AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT.

JONNY KELSON CURRENTLY LIVES AND WORKS IN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA.