Jon Espegren (b 1961) has attended Short Center North since 1986. For years Jon was not interested in painting and preferred to do anything but participate in art classes. His metamorphosis into an exceptional artist seemed instant, almost as if he had been switched on overnight. He has painted under the mentorship of Steve Vanoni, John Berger, and Stephanie Skalisky.

Jon works primarily from photos and images. Images of Elvis, Superman and from Art History are taken from donated books kept in the studio. Some of these images morph into variations of the original subject, such as in The 4 Stages of Elvis, in which Elvis materializes into a blobby egg-like figure. Using a Renaissance painting for inspiration in Annunciation we can see the reference to the ornate golden background, a day-glo angel Gabriel, and a Madonna who resembles a worm being shot out of a cannon.

He also works from observation, usually depicting architectural scenes from around campus with a skewed perspective.  Although staircases lead to nowhere and walls become ceilings, he paints with such authority that just the spatial juxtapositions alone, viewed as an abstract work, are enough to captivate the viewer. In Classroom he has captured the lonely feel of one of an art studio on the SCN campus after hours, and in Kitchen Interior the viewer is transported into a Winchester Mystery House of intersecting walls, drawers, ceilings and floors.

Either by accident or design his color sense is rich. Jon likes to mix his own colors and will sometimes paint over a finished work.  This “layering” over paintings is seen in Robot (Blue Helmet) and also Suey Son, among others. Sometimes he paints over his own work; sometimes he illicitly paints over another client’s art. The original images can sometimes be seen through the paint, adding an inadvertent texturing that can sometimes be distracting; other times it adds dimension.

Text also has a place in his work. Happy accidents such as Et Cetera (ETC) Man and Suey Son are unintentional wordings which make the paintings all the more enjoyable.

His use of pattern is also prevalent, growing and becoming more intricate as he matures as an artist. Portrait of a Lady and Vegas Elvis are two examples of his inventive employ of pattern as background and as border, using the entire space of the canvas and leaving no space unadorned.

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