Current Works Gallery

Featured Artist Jim Vose

June 2020

Welcome to this new gallery space on our website. The paintings and series featured here are by artist Jim Vose, who has received training at The Atelier. Jim's work on this series of paintings is the inspiration for creating this new gallery page on The Atelier's website. Jim has been a studio mate in my studio for several years now and I am in awe of his work and his unlimited source of ideas for paintings. During this time of COVID-19, we have shared emails and I have been delighted to receive each piece and its explanation through the past several weeks. This is too good not to share. I am honored to introduce Jim Vose and his Plague Painting Series.

Cyd Wicker, Director of The Atelier

Jim Vose's Plague Paintings

(Made in March, April, and May 2020)

When the coronavirus struck in early 2020 I gathered all of the plague books I had on my shelves, which, it turned out, made a significant pile. In that process I rediscovered Thucydides's account of the horrific plague that afflicted Athens in 430 BC, during the long war with Sparta. But, more than his account of the event itself, it was Thucydides's preface to that account that caught my fancy: “I shall simply tell it as it happened, and describe the features of the disease which will give anyone who studies them some prior knowledge to enable recognition should it ever strike again.”

I decided to undertake a similar task—to describe the current plague—with a series of still life paintings. Mindful of da Vinci's dictum (“Small rooms discipline the mind, large ones weaken it”), I formulated a few constraints on how I would proceed. First, to reflect what had become the most salient feature of my life, quarantine, I would set all of the paintings within the confines of the small wooden boxes that I had collected for years. Second, in order to fit in those boxes, all of the objects that I included in the paintings would have to be small. Third, the objects would have to come from some closet, cupboard or shelf in my house because, after all, I could not leave it. Fourth, I would make a total of nine paintings, with some sort of symmetry in size, subject matter, theme, composition or color, to the left and right of the middle, or fifth, painting, the subject for which was the only one of the nine that at that point had entered my head—I had a notion to paint all of those plague books I had gathered from around the house. Fifth, I would make the paintings in order, one through nine, left to right. And sixth, I would complete one painting a week, on the theory that after nine weeks the virus would surely have receded, and I could then return to my studio, to various unfinished paintings, and to the old life. The theory underlying the sixth constraint has proved to be lunacy, but the constraint itself served me well, nonetheless. I was off to the races, making “plague paintings.” They are featured in order of creation.

Friends, the plague is not over, but this series is complete. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “The harvest is passed, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Thanks for looking.

Jim Vose

About the Artist

Jim Vose practiced corporate law for three decades, pining all the while for the time to pursue his avocations: making art, reading philosophy, and growing flowers. Finally, in 2006, as he wound down his law practice, he began to take evening drawing and painting classes at The Atelier, principally under the tutelage of Brian Lewis. After six years of instruction he secured studio space from The Atelier, and started to paint every day, concentrating on still life. Along the way he finally finished a long-term project, a set of twenty-five graphite drawings with accompanying text, called The Social Life of Pears, which was exhibited locally (including in the halls of the law firm at which he had spent his career as a lawyer). For more than twenty years he has exhibited drawings and paintings at juried exhibitions held by the Minnesota State Fair, the Edina Art Center, the Bloomington Art Center, and Studio Pintura, in Minneapolis. In 2019 his painting called Bread and Oranges was a finalist in the 14th International Salon held by the Art Renewal Center.