Credit: Courtesy of Jonathan Yoerger.
Jonathan Yoerger: Working Class Hero (2012)
When I saw Jonathan’s latest painting in the studio for the first time (nearing its completion), my jaw dropped. I had only seen in-progress iPhone shots and the initial sketch on the canvas was very different than what emerged. Sometimes he paints from a sketch or a collage, other times he paints over it and finds new inspiration.
I love that her hair is so damn big it defies the airless vacuum of outer space. This nameless creature doesn’t need a formal spacesuit or oxygen mask… and she’s riding a retrofitted WWI-era machine gun. Once again, Jonathan Yoerger paints the unexpected by putting an afro-headed communist on the moon.
Today I wanted to share a peak into Jonathan Yoerger’s studio at SCAD’s Alexander Hall. I am so blessed to be able to share these photos because, as his girlfriend, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing his work progress while he finishes his MFA. Unless it’s open studio or he has a scheduled studio visit, you’ll hardly see finished pieces. His studio is full of… well, it changes each time I visit. For example, this was back in April just before open studio:
This is what it looks like as of last night:
First of all, Jonathan is many things. He’s a printmaker, a bike mechanic, a painter, a scooterist, a cyclist… He has a million hobbies and is interested in everything. And all of these things grace his paintings/drawings/assemblages. To him, art should be inspired by the world, pop culture, and life in general. Jonathan’s favorite artists include Ed Ruscha, Aya Takano, Dan Graham, Philip Guston, Jamie Hewlett and Yoshitomo Nara. He likes rockets, custom builds (bikes), comics, 70s punk rock, helmets from the sixties, Corsair planes, space ephemera, altered histories, and the list goes on. Really. Just ask him. In his own words, he explains his work:
My cast of characters like The Invincible Molly Brown and Space Chick fight their revolution through bling, not bang. A rebellion of excess is stronger than one that of opposition. Defiance happens best through achievement. Reaching the moon defied ambitions, creativity, the enemy, routine, doubt and more. I act in defiance for hope of the unexpected achievement. Scientists, artists, and entrepreneurial men on Wall St: we all solve problems. Physical. Mental. Strategic. The artist is different because he must be a theorist that knows a little about everything but know nothing well. He must be a springboard.
I’m not here to tell you a story. You’re here to tell one yourself. I do not make narratives; they are artifacts of narrative, as if an object tells more about a story than the narrative itself. They gift insights into times repeated, worlds that do not exist, and histories that never happened. The world we live in, as well as the world I create, is always on the brink of something: the end, a new beginning, a discovery or a hidden past. To create this “other world” is to provide a case study of our own.
Like Jamie Hewlett’s Tank Girl and Jet Girl, Jonathan has Space Chick. Space Chick is any assertive and in-charge female (preferably with short hair) that’s not afraid to show some curves while kicking ass and completing self-prescribed space missions. She’s featured in the majority of his current work. Here she is:
This is a photo of a small section of his installation from open studio night. Needless to say, he takes his work very seriously. Seriously playful…
His walls were so full that he even made goggles for prospective art buyers. They’re “beer goggles” because the magnification is higher than needed, which makes everything blurry and too close. But that’s what it’s like when you’re drinking free wine at an opening and making a brash purchase under the influence.
Last week, Jonathan traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to show eight pieces at the Rymer Gallery. Here’s a painting called Galaxie Petit that can be seen at Rymer until the end of the month.
His recent lithographs have smart-ass brass plaques with inscriptions giving false histories, like this one:
On a side-note, this is a close-up and in-progress shot of one of my favorite paintings by Jonathan. I liked it so much, I asked him not to sell it.
So… there you have it. Jonathan Yoerger is well on his way to creating his own alternate universe with a few trusty tools such as oil paint, oil sticks, and anything else he can get his hands on. I really enjoy stopping by his studio and seeing what he’s been up to (or to grab him for a beer). His ideas never cease to amaze me. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing, his brain is cranking and preparing for the next piece. Also, it’s a bonus when I get to request a piece for our apartment walls. Just one perk of living with an artist!
P.S. My profile picture was taken of me dressed up as Space Chick.
Jonathan and Will Penny participated in Open Studio Night at Alexander by riding their bikes in a super small studio for 2 hours in a winner-less race as a performance art piece. They put printmaking ink down on the ground and vellum on top to ride over to make a trace monotype, which will be mounted and used in the Bicycle Art Show for the Savannah Bike Co-Op.