AFA: As an artist with notable exhibitions, publications, and collectors, discuss the spectrum of your accomplishments.
Jon Taner: What is most significant in my life, beside my immediate family, is to find ongoing and continuous inspiration from what I see and hear daily from a world of constant change and challenge. The exhibits, sales and positive feedback are not to be overlooked, but the delight and sense of conquering a visual puzzle so that it tells me I have struck a harmonious chord within myself and among those who see my work gives me a true sense of achievement. I have noticed that as my subject matter is more reflective of change and transformation, so too are the medium I have been using from two to three dimensional constructions. I am also pursuing a project to bring multiple art forms together including a musical performance and an installation of artworks representing images in the featured song as well as additional components.
AFA: Your work has a delightful array of playfulness; how do you bring forth these qualities?
Jon Taner: I always have the notion, in the back of my mind that someone, somewhere will be living with this object I am creating. It is important to me that I impart a quality that will make my painting or construction a friend that will grow on you. The works allow personal experiences of the viewer to have an impact on their relationship to the art. It will have a story of its own or one you can make up and reinvent. It can be playful or dead serious upon further investigation. It must connect in a way that is not strictly cerebral. Playfulness can come from the contrast of shapes, colors, and the occasional written expression or single word that often has more than one meaning.
AFA: How do you approach the layout and subject matters of your art?
Jon Taner: Abstraction has served me well and my attitude toward it has ripened. It has a technical and formal quality. It may have drama, energy, brilliant color, abandonment, and more. What has become most clear to me is that it is only a foundation upon which I can intermingle and add layers on top of it. Although he probably would vehemently deny it, Edward Hopper was, in my mind, a master in this regard. He depicted the subtleties of life itself, but upon closer investigation his paintings cannot be labeled as just realism.
I work from the memory of objects and experiences as well as scenes that are recurrent in my daily life. There is naturally a selective process which may be sparked by something visceral or just amusing. It is transformed in the studio and translated into my language. Collage has been a constant for me in terms of “layout” and it helps to determine shape, texture, scale, patterns, etc. I never take color for granted. It is an exploration for me that requires patience and a particular sense of determination. Throughout the process “accidents” are looked upon as integral to the achievement I seek.
AFA: Your architectural pieces have a flare of vibrant application and childlike qualities, what inspires these series of artworks?
Jon Taner: I have an almost inexplicable attachment to the town of Paterson, NJ. My grandparents lived there as well as my parents and other relatives and friends. We moved to a neighboring town when I was eight years old. I have been employed in Paterson for approximately twenty years. The daily commute inspires me to capture the change; in some cases, for the better, and sadly, in many cases, for the worse. The city’s transformation provides contrasts that are visually an inspiration to me and my childhood connection is reflected in as you say, “childlike qualities”. A desire to maintain some of those qualities and the abstract in my work has led to a less academic approach of proper perspective, color palette, etc. to a style that leaves more room for interpretation.
AFA: How does water-based media and collage accentuate the qualities contained with your work?
Jon Taner: My individual style would go missing if it were in oil rather than water-based media. I began painting with watercolors as a youth and acrylic paints were an obvious next step for me as I could achieve the same effect and much more. Drying time was also an issue for me. I knew that I could see and adjust results more readily than I could with oil paint.
As far as how this media “accentuates the qualities” of my work, layering is key. Textures, patterns, edges, colors, all from application of different materials, found objects, and the glazing of colors are key ingredients to arriving at the harmonious chord.