Friday, January 09, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ John August Swanson

Yet another artist new to me, John August Swanson. He'll have a birthday coming up on Sunday.
He was born in Los Angeles on 11 January 1938.

From the artist's own website:

John August Swanson makes his home in Los Angeles, California, where he was born in 1938. He paints in oil, watercolor, acrylic and mixed media, and is an independent printmaker of limited edition serigraphs, lithographs and etchings.

His art reflects the strong heritage of storytelling he inherited from his Mexican mother and Swedish father.

Swanson studied with Corita Kent at Immaculate Heart College. His unique style is influenced by the imagery of Islamic and medieval miniatures, Russian iconography, the color of Latin American folk art, and the tradition of Mexican muralists.

Unlike many contemporary artists, John Swanson works directly on all phases in producing his original prints. His serigraphs (limited-edition screen prints) have from 40 to 89 colors printed, using transparent and opaque inks creating rich and detailed imagery. For each color printed the artist must draw a stencil on Mylar film. This stencil is transferred to the silk screen for printing the color ink on the serigraph edition. The resulting serigraph is a matrix of richly overlaid colors visually striking and technically masterful.

In 1995 Orbis Books published There Is A Season which featured Swanson’s painting, Ecclesiastes. It is a series of meditations in art and words on the famous passage from Ecclesiastes. Joan Chittister, O.S.B. wrote the text. This book won the Catholic Press Association’s 1996 first-place award in spirituality.

Mr Swanson, though a devout Roman Catholic, and many of his paintings are of biblical subjects, has said in interview that he hopes his art will speak to viewers of all religions, or of no religion.

See here
Swanson: I come from a faith that has a rich and broad tradition of thinkers. It's a very complex thing. Some people assume that if you are Catholic you have left your brain behind, but that is such a simple view of this very rich tradition. I have read from many Catholic sources and I try to tap into all of these wonderful thinkers who challenge us to move toward justice, peace, and transformation. I'm not just a painter. I'm not someone who just sits in the pew and prays the rosary. I'm in the world, trying to help us become more human. I don't want to be labeled a "Christian Artist" so much as I want to do good work. I love my faith, but I'm happy when anyone, of any faith or no faith, is inspired by my work. I'm just hoping my art helps others become more compassionate, care about others, and be involved in the world.

In a short video titled An Artist's Perspective on Justice , Mr Swanson comes over as a very gentle gentleman.

Mr Swanson's piece titled Ecclesiastes was what first attracted my attention due to the zodiac images included. The painting was inspired by the Bible passage from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8. It's a passage read to us many times at school morning assemblies, long long ago and far away in East Yorkshire.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

 Click on image for larger, clearer version

A series of of narrative scenes and dramatic vignettes combine to illustrate the individual verses of this passage. I'm quite surprised to find inclusion of astrological subject matter here - but glad to see it!

I shall desist from publishing a natal chart for Mr Swanson, as he is still with us, and he might not appreciate its inclusion on a blog open to the public. Suffice to say that his Capricorn Sun forms an harmonious Grand Trine with creative Neptune and Venus (the arts)- and (quite probably) Moon/Uranus. Jupiter is in Aquarius reflecting his open-minded and socially conscious attitudes as related to his religion.

I hesitate to include many images of his work due to copyright reasons - but maybe just another one and one poster format can be allowed. Please visit the artist's own website and look through his catalogue for more and larger illustrations of his work.

Psalm 23

 Click on image to enlarge and clarify it.

I hope my art speaks of the hospitality I have experienced from people of all ethnicities, nationalities and religious backgrounds. The kindness, sharing and community I have felt stays with me and inspires my art. I feel gratitude recalling the care and warmth of a meal, good company, and generosity and kindness given me,often from those who have so little. These experiences of sharing with our immediate family and the guests we welcome to our table help us to feel solidarity with the whole human family around the world".
~ John August Swanson

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).


Sonny G said...

Its good to see/ hear about someone who's art represents hope, caring and adding joy to the world through his own passion.
According to what you've posted he is surely living out his "11" numerology..
Good for him~! and good for all who are inspired by it.

mike said...

As always, thanks for the introduction to this talented fellow. Money can obscure many things, but if I had more than enough, it would be so "Venus" to surround myself with fine art. It isn't often, but on occasion I've visited homes that have an abundance of various art pieces, and it's a very sensual experience that I enjoy. Art museums are fantastic for viewing, but there is something very unique about being surrounded by art in a living space amongst the personal effects.

I prefer one-of-a-kind pieces, but his prints are very reasonably priced, and his runs are 100 to 250 reproductions, which isn't too bad.

His vibrant colors, obviously, make his work pop. I particularly like his "Jester", but all are fine.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Yes - Mr Swanson does seem to be a lovely guy, as well as a talented artist.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I like his "Jester" too, but if I had to choose one print I'd have to have "Ecclesiastes".

We don't have a lot of space left for additional artwork though. Anyjazz has been on a painting jig over past months! We're having to pick and mix and swap 'em all around from time to time.

LB said...

How beautiful and inspiring.:) Thanks, Twilight.

I like "Jester" too.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Glad you enjoyed! :-)