We are so so excited to bring back our In Depth series for 2013! Many of you have lamented 2012’s lack of interviews and well, we want to give you what you want. Here’s our very exciting, very talented February Artist: Jason Bard Yarmosky.
Yarmosky’s star has been skyrocketing in the past few years with good reason: his work is ridiculously skillful, powerful, and challenging. His classic realism is a wonderful counter to much of the mixed media art-for-art-sake of so much Contemporary Art today. Oil on canvas seems like such a throwback in 2013, but his subjects and his vision are anything but.
Yarmosky’s Elder Kinder series and the portraits of seniors move many of us to reconsider our thoughts on aging and the elderly in our lives. There is a quote from Madeline L’Engle that he uses in his artist statement that I think sums up the series wonderfully, and offers a refreshing perspective on life: “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been”.
Junkyard Arts: Hey Jason! First off, where you from and where you at now?
Jason Bard Yarmosky: Born in Poughkeepsie, New York. I now live in Brooklyn, New York
JYA: When did you first realize your love for art, and when did you realize you had the illustrative talent that you have?
JBY: I began drawing at a very young age. My parents tell me I was making primitive line drawings with perspective when I was four years old. Around that same time I started helping my father design and make piñatas for birthdays, and I created action figure designs that I asked my mother to sew for me. I’m not sure that I ever decided that art was something I enjoyed. It was always something I always did and has been a part of me ever since.
JYA: Who are your artistic influences?
JBY: As far as my adult influences, I would include Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Cindy Sherman, Andrew Wyeth, and John Singer Sargent among many others.
JYA: Tell me about your family and how they influence your work.
JBY: I have always been very close to my grandparents on my mother’s side who live nearby. They like to remind me that at 4 years old I was giving them drawing lessons. Maybe a result of my being close to them, or maybe because of who I am, the lack of permanence and the inevitability of aging have always been on my mind. The inescapability of their aging is evident in their changing bodies, even as their view of the world has continued to expand. Seeing them approach life with exuberance, humor, and a little bit of mischief was something I wanted to explore and pay homage to. I have done so in my paintings.
JYA: Are your parents and grandparents artists?
JBY: My parents are creative, but not artistic. My father’s grandparents are not artists, but there are some artists on my mother’s side.
JYA: You went to the School of Visual Arts in NYC – was this something that your family supported?
JBY: Drawing, painting, and creating things have always been a comfortable way for me to understand ideas and to communicate. My parents and grandparents have always supported and encouraged me. My parents were often questioned about the precariousness of allowing their son to pursue a career in art. Undeterred, they supported my efforts to follow my passion.
JYA: Tell me about your feelings when you first started at the school and some of the experiences you had there in terms of creative development. As someone who went to art school, I think people don’t understand how difficult being in there can be.
JBY: When I first started at the School of Visual Arts I was excited and overwhelmed by living on my own in NYC. I had to find a balance between exploring the city and working in my studio. I had a number of instructors who helped me think outside of the box. I began looking at things in many different ways and experimenting with various technical approaches. Getting lots of criticism, from the polite to the type that painfully hit home, they really did help me grow as a painter, and those criticisms helped me to grow up, too.
JYA: Tell me something I don’t know about the Elder Kinder series. What have been some of the reactions to it?
JBY: One of the criticisms that I got in art school was that I hadn’t found my particular style. I was good at creating lots of different types of drawings and paintings, but I hadn’t developed a unique approach.
Being pressed to do so, it was natural that I would look to my interest in aging to create that identity.
The overwhelming response from people of all ages has been positive. Older people have really connected to my work. I once gave a talk to an auditorium full of senior citizens along with a slideshow of my work, and I got a standing ovation. Children and older people recognize the inherent freedom of just being themselves. The occasional naysayer is more likely to be middle aged. They tend to be more focused on what is supposed to be appropriate.
JYA: Fast forward again – tell me about how you’ve felt when you had you first solo show, what did it mean for you as an artist and how has it affected your shows since then?
JBY: My first solo show was incredible. I had work exhibited and sold before that, but it was always part of a group show. Now, having a gallery devote all of its space to a themed collection of my works was a wonderful steppingstone. Several of the paintings were presold, and other were sold that night or shortly thereafter. It was a real confidence builder for me, and it really got me excited for what the future might hold. I now have two solo shows behind me, I am very excited about my next solo show in October at Bertrand Delacroix Gallery.
JYA: Your work has now been seen in CA, NY, FL, TX, BYU, Paris, and you are now showing, as you said, at Bertrand Delacroix Gallery. How did this happen, where do you want to go, and what’s next?
JBY: I have been very lucky to have my works purchased by a wide range of great collectors. Exposure to my work in various magazines and websites has generated additional interest. It is exciting that my personal website is visited by many people around the world every day.
I am really excited about working with Bertrand Delacriox, and I look forward to producing an excellent show this October.
JYA: What are some projects you are working on now?
JBY: Everything right now is about my solo show this coming October. My weeks are now consumed with preparing works for the event.
JYA: Will you be teaching any classes or lecturing at all in 2013?
JBY: I will be offering a drawing workshop entitled Head in Hands at the Arts Student League in New York in April, 2013.
JYA: What’s some advice you can give to budding artists out there who are inspired by your work?
JBY: As far as advice is concerned, I would advise budding artists to write a lot and work hard on their technique. Through personal writing we are able to discover things about ourselves that we might not have known otherwise. We can take those personal themes and choose to explore them in our work. Exploring what you are passionate about will motivate your execution. Also, try to visit museums as often as possible for inspiration.