Mixed media artist never takes the safe route
By Lele Galer, Columnist, The Times
This week’s local art watch is focused on the mixed media work of artist Jeremy McGirl. Jeremy is an artist’s artist because his work always speaks to the creative process, and he never sacrifices invention or creativity for the what is safe. When I first saw Jeremy’s work several years ago, just after he had completed his Masters in Fine Art at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, his mixed media paintings were stark linear canvases with straps of bright blue painter’s tape crossing through the canvas plain. The tape drew attention to the lines that he had created on the works – lines that used painter’s tape to render them, not the free flowing stroke of an unencumbered painter’s brush. Jeremy says about this process:
“When I work I make changes. Each change that is made is done, and even if I try to “undo” it the residue of it is still there and plays a role. It is a layer that must be factored in, and in the end it contributes to the whole. Some things dissolve and play a small role in the end, while others remain more apparent and serve as a focus.”
The tape’s blue color is very striking, and works in these early compositions to pop-up the somber palette of the images. Once you get over the painter’s tape, your eye starts looking at the details, the others elements of the painting/collages and you start to see relationships.
In fact, “relationships” are a very important element of all of Jeremy’s work, and when he has a show, he chooses works that often relate to one another. When you buy one painting from his display, you take a small element out of the total vision. Jeremy says, smiling, that he hopes that perhaps it will “encourage people to buy more than one at a time”. His works are many different sizes, all thoughtfully and purposefully constructed, and his prices are affordable. His next show is at Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery this coming Thursday, September 5th from 5-9pm.
Currently he is working on a series of bird images that are absolutely delightful. These are for an upcoming September show “Poo-tee-weet” at the Art Trust Gallery in West Chester. He draws the birds on tissue paper and then mounts them on more paper, some of which is covered in hand painted designs, and then mounts the layers on a 1.5 inch thick wooden block. He glues the tissue paper with a glue that shows his process – it is bubbly and rippled.
“I am constantly looking for a balance between optimism and irritation in the work. Even if the work is visually beautiful, underneath lies an irritation which keeps me questioning myself and seeking out new points of view to be able to factor into the meanings I have applied” writes Jeremy in his artist’s statement.
Why the glue ripples, don’t you “know how to glue paper properly?” I asked. Jeremy laughs again “I wanted to show that it was glued and plus I like the ripples.” Jeremy finishes these small bird works with a painterly broad application of bright cadmium red along the sides. The bird images are tenderly rendered in pencil, and then you are shocked by the splashes of bright red along the sides. His work brings you in with the detailed imagery and then leaves you asking questions about what he is up to. When asked about the shocking red color, he said that when you hang the image on a white wall, the red sides make it glow. So, to the consumer please note – if his work is unframed, it is because it is meant to be that way. He thinks through it all, and every part of the artistic process is a part of the invention of the pieces, even the paper ripples or the left over painter’s tape.
Besides the Galer Estate show this Thursday, and the Art Trust show in two weeks, he was also a chosen artist for the Chester County Art Association’s famous Art Invitational whose opening Gala is this Friday November 6th at CCAA. Jeremy is also a teacher at DCCC and father of two. This is a very busy artist , but he never rushes the creation, and always maintains the integrity of his vision. His works are very lovely, finely executed, with a great sense of deliberate color, and interesting textures, but they also leave you with a lot of unanswered questions about his interesting choices. Hopefully the dialogue will continue after you have purchased one or two of his works, when they cheerfully ask you to look again.
His work can be seen online at www.jeremymcgirl.com. Proceeds from the Galer Estate Pop-up show and the Artist Invitational at Chester County Art Association benefit the New Building Fund for The Chester County Art Association.
This is the third in a series of weekly articles that will highight one local artist every week. Lele Galer is an artist who has chaired numerous art shows, taught art history and studio art, public art and has chaired, written and taught the Art in Action Art Appreciation series for the UCFD schools for the past 12 years. She worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and wrote for the Asociated Press in Rome. She has been dedicated to Art History and art education for most of her adult life. Lele and her husband Brad own Galer Estate Winery in Kennett Square and she is President of the Education Foundation and co-Chairs the CCAA’s New Building Campaign.