The Art Assassin

a nonfiction novel by Albert Wang

Chapter 55: ASSASSINATION: Jerry Hardesty, Artist Represented by Art at the Main Gallery

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Jerry Hardesty at The Art at the Main Gallery. Courtesy Jerry Hardesty.
Jerry Hardesty: Backstage, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 9 by 12 inches. Courtesy Jerry Hardesty.

So what defines an interview from THE ART ASSASSIN? It’s called a hit, or assassination. My close friend, Jerry Hardesty, was the first victim of my “sharpshooting” skills. Bang. Bang.

Hardesty is represented by Art at the Main Gallery which is located at 210 East 400 South inside the Salt Lake Main Library complex. Even though his work, which has been specifically figurative until his recent foray into more abstract work, seems to be traditional and post-impressionist with its signature impasto, rich handling of colors, and slashing brushstrokes, Hardesty’s abstract work has begun to explore a more happy medium between the color field painting style of Frankenthaler and the heavy-dosed expressionism of Soutine. His approach also reminds one of the rather controversial Howard Hodgkin in terms of casual observers thinking that either Hodgkin or Hardesty “lack technique” because of the “messy brushwork.” I would counter with the argument that if you are pouring your emotions onto canvas, should people object to the personal aspects triumphing over the polished look?

So I had a chance this weekend to let off a few rounds towards Hardesty’s direction and here we have the director’s cut of our little conversation in cyberspace.

If you have any questions about Hardesty’s artwork, feel free to contact his gallery at (801) 363-4088.

Details of the “assassination”:

qi peng: How did you get interested in art when you were younger?

Jerry Hardesty: Art was not part of the curriculum in the public schools I attended; I should rephrase that – while in elementary school, an art teacher would come to our class perhaps once every six weeks and direct us to do a project which was more craft- based. In spite of that, I was always interested in drawing.  I took one class in college. When I was teaching in the public schools of Missouri, the art teacher and I were friends, and I took a workshop from her.

qi peng: Considering that you had a long hiatus from art during the 70’s to 90’s, do you notice that your style has changed from the past into the recent work? What about the conceptual idea?

Jerry Hardesty: My style has definitely changed, and I believe is still developing and growing. When I finally began painting in the 70’s, I wanted to paint nothing but clowns. I did not really know what I was doing. I was pretty much self-taught. Now, rather than painting from pictures, I would rather paint from life, en plein air; and most recently from concepts.

qi peng: You have been notorious with use of heavy impasto and rather abstracted brushstrokes to create what seems to be impressionistic representational artwork. Why do you think that viewers and some other artists object to this?

Jerry Hardesty: I was unaware that artists and other viewers have objected to my impasto, abstracted brushstrokes; however, I would be interested to know why myself.  But to address the issue, if it is in fact an issue, I have to like what I paint – no, I have to be passionate about what I paint, and if that means heavy impasto and abstracted brushstrokes then that is what I shall paint. One artist with whom I have studied, stated that I should paint like a rich man and paint even thicker.

qi peng: How has your training through Steven Sheffield helped the arc of your art education?

Jerry Hardesty: Since I have not studied that long with Steven, it would be unfair of me to give him sole credit for my art education. I have studied landscape painting with Susan Gallacher of King’s Cottage Gallery; portraiture and drawing with Rob Adamson of Salt Lake Community College; a week-end landscape workshop with Elio Camacho; landscape painting with John Hughes; and finally abstract painting with Steven Sheffield. In the short time that I have studied with Steven, my creativity has been broadened with ideas of conceptual art.

qi peng: What directions do you see your artwork heading into? As a lifelong student, will your technique and conceptual drive shift?

Jerry Hardesty: My conceptual drive has already shifted into right-brain mode. As I study with various artists and practice almost daily, my technique can do nothing but improve. As to new directions, I hope to exhibit in galleries outside the Salt Lake City area.

qi peng: What are some things that you envision yourself experimenting with?

Jerry Hardesty: Certainly more experimentation with conceptual art, with abstractions, perhaps multi-media, figurative painting. In addition to landscapes, I enjoy urban scapes – real industrial type urban scapes.

qi peng: Who are some of your influences, both artistically and culturally? How do they influence your philosophy of art?

Jerry Hardesty: I have already mentioned the people with whom I have studied. In addition, I give credit to my Mother – she was always a positive influence in my life and encouraged me as a singer/performer. My wife and my children also deserve credit. My wife has been very supportive since my illness in 2006; as have my daughter and two sons. My wife and children are my most devoted fans. I paint with a group weekly that I call “Thursday’s Painters” who have been very supportive – my friend Jude, from that group, has been my mentor. Toastmasters International has profoundly improved my ability as a public speaker – I am a motivational-speaker- wannabe. My art is influenced by many people and many things, especially by life experience.

I love the Impressionists as well as the Expressionists, and have considered myself an Impressionistic Painter.

qi peng: You are represented by Art at the Main Gallery at the downtown public library in Salt Lake. What are some advantages being in a central location? How has your gallery helped in your art career?

Jerry Hardesty: Art at the Main is a wonderful little gallery (www.ArtattheMain.com). Its location is a benefit due to the high amount of foot traffic in that area. Being part of that gallery, has given me a great deal of exposure I otherwise would not have had. Rapport with other artists in the gallery has been very helpful. Periodically, the gallery sponsors ‘Studio Window,’ the room next to the gallery where the gallery artists set up their easels and paint so the public can see the creation of art live. I love being able to paint and talk with patrons and answer their questions.

qi peng: How do you visualize the art world in New York City and Los Angeles (or any larger art market)?

Jerry Hardesty: I would love to be a part of the New York art scene, or any large city for that matter. That would be the ultimate goal at this point.

qi peng: What impact will the economic recession have on concerns within your artwork or artistic practice?

Jerry Hardesty: The economic recession is having an impact on all artists and many galleries. Would-be collectors may be reluctant to purchase a piece when they are uncertain if their paychecks will cover all the bills. The recession highlights the term “starving artist.” In spite of this, I shall continue to study, practice, and paint daily so that when the economy strengthens, I am ready.

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at qipengart@gmail.com
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Written by qi peng

May 12, 2009 at 2:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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