JACK MAYS (1938-2014)


In my earlier days as a sculptor, I reacted to the news and worldly themes—Nixon, the shootings at Kent State, as well as local issues and Western themes. I was playing with images that were important to me as a child: Cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians. But it was a generic kind of art and was suitable for shows.

In 1992, we had a huge earthquake and my foundry was wiped out. At that point I started drawing full time. I realized that the casting process was 99% labor and 1% creativity. Drawing was the opposite. It was also at this point that I went from the generic to the specific and from the national to the local.

I took a teaching position at Ferndale Elementary School with the goal of reestablishing creativity in grammar school. It rekindled the excitement I had as a kid when I was drawing. Kids have a way with getting to the essence of something, and I learned more from them than from any of the graduate programs I had been in.

The project in question—the study of Ferndale through colored pencil drawings—I knew was a process in which I would give up other opportunities. My way of working is like going into the monastery. I was uninfluenced by galleries, the art world, and staying on top of trends. I’m not interested in making art for the art world, but in making art for Ferndale. My art, audience and goals were very specific.

I wanted the freedom to do…without pressure, to focus. I would spend three years in one spot. As this project unfolded, I knew that this was something no one had ever done before that I knew of. I limited all of my visual influences down to one area. I just parked on the street and whatever happened influenced me. In retrospect, I would never have envisioned these panoramas. I chose this manner of working in isolation, seven days a week, day and night, for years. It was a total fascination, and the results turned out pretty good. I feel like my life is well spent in doing this.

More about Jack at OneMoreLine.net