Beginning in the early 1960s, John A. O’Connor, “the punning, painting, pedagogue” began a series of paintings, drawings, and works on paper that included satire, social criticism, and anti-mainstream commentary on a variety of issues. Taking his lead from artists like Hieronomus Bosch (The Garden of Earthly Delights, The Last Judgment, and The Haywein Triptych) William Hogarth (A Harlot’s Progress, A Rake’s Progress) and Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (Los Disparates [The follies, The Proverbs, and/or The Dreams]; Los Disastres de la Guerra; and, especially The Black Paintings), O’Connor initiated a second side to his better-known work (Bay Area Figurative). Including word-plays made with stencils, irreverent dialog, and a take on the more serious works by Jasper Johns, O’Connor started to develop a group of themes and images that would recur throughout his career and subsequently lead to the current series, White Lies Matter.
This series of “fake slates” explores many popular misconceptions that we all share about what is really going on in our lives. A symbol of the only Irish pub on communist soil at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba “where it don’t gitmo better than this,” and Bill Clinton’s “little blue dress” episode looks downright insignificant when compared to JFK’s exploits, and the real story behind Obama’s “red line in Syria,” White Lies Matter exposes the cover ups, lies, and cynicism of 21st America.
John is currently working on a new series of small paintings that he refers to as “slates.” The paintings are the same size as the small blackboard “slates” used by school children in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The series is titled “White Lies Matter.” The subjects matter is political, satirical and inspired by the satirical works by Goya and Hogarth.
Can art play an important role in promoting a call to action by educating the public and raising awareness? We believe that Region4: Transformation Through Imagination, an exhibition organized in 2012 by oconnorartLLC and the Superfund Art Project did just that.
The current exhibition, Region4.1.0: Remediation, is a report card on the progress that has been made and the problems that remain to be addressed. We haven’t forgotten what’s at stake and wish to remind the citizens of our community that to get results we have to educate ourselves and take appropriate action to protect our health and safety and to insure the sustainability of our homes, our neighborhoods, and the natural resources that we enjoy.
After decades of frustration and delay, remediation has finally begun on the Koppers Superfund Site located near the Stephen Foster Neighborhood in Northeast Gainesville, Florida. As of February 2014, there were 1,322 Superfund sites on the EPA National Priorities List. Of those, 375 have so far been cleaned up. No wonder it has taken over three decades to bring environmental justice to the Stephen Foster Neighborhood.
Mallory has organized a new art exhibition to celebrate the re-opening of The Doris Bardon Community Cultural Center in Gainesville. The exhibit, “Artist-Naturalists in Florida: Then and Now,” includes the work of 22 contemporary Florida artists as well as prints by early artist-naturalists such as William Bartram and John James Audubon. The exhibit will be on display at The Doris, 1315 South Main Street, Gainesville, through December 11. Gallery hours are wednesday through sunday 1-5 p.m. John did the design work for the brochure. The opening reception attracted over 200 people. There will be a “Field Notes Workshop” by Chris Burney on November 8, 1-4 pm and a photo safari with Jeff Ripple on Nov 29, 1-4 pm. The fee for the workshops is $15. ($10 . for Doris members) payable at the door. Come join us at The (New) Doris!
The upcoming year will be a very exciting time for friends of John and William Bartram because 2015 is the 250th anniversary of their first visit to Georgia and Florida. In response to this anniversary, I am currently organizing an exhibit of wildlife art—painting and photography—for the Doris Bardon Community Cultural Center in Gainesville. The Doris—as it’s affectionately called—is a new art center that enjoys broad-based community support. The center is re-opening in Fall, 2015, after purchasing and renovating a new facility and is planning a re-opening “gala” that will feature an art exhibit, music, a reception and other attractions. The gala is currently scheduled for November 11, 2015.
North Central Florida is filled with natural beauty and is a popular eco-tourist destination. The community is proud of its natural resources and is also home to the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Butterfly Rainforest as well as the Harn Museum of Art. Art and Nature are the strengths of our region. That’s why I decided to focus on Artist-Naturalists in Florida: Then and Now as the subject for the opening exhibition. I am borrowing several facsimile prints of works by William Bartram, Mark Catesby and J.J. Audubon from the University of Florida library to include in the exhibit along with works by 15 contemporary Florida wildlife artists.
Artist Naturalists in Florida: Then and Now is scheduled to be on display in the Doris Bardon Community Cultural Center Gallery, October 30 through December 11, 2015. This exhibit explores the rich history of wildlife art in Florida throughout the past 250 years including works by contemporary Florida wildlife artists, and will be a lead-in to the new Wildlife Art Festival that will be held on the grounds of The Doris next year in October. We are planning a series of workshops/lectures that will take place in Gainesville during the exhibition period.