This month, the walls of Tomato Head Downtown will feature the work of an emerging artist with a unique style that, he says, is still in development.
Jordan Kear, a graduate of the Appalachian Center for Crafts at Tennessee Technological University, works primarily with wood in a style that he hasn’t yet tried very hard to define or pin down. The show itself, he says, is a kind of mélange.
“There’s a lot of sculpture and some figurative sculpture as well. All in wood. There’s ash, walnut – a lot of hardwoods that are native to East Tennessee. And I’m using a little exotic wood just for the flair of it; they have really good grain, really good colors. In this show I’m using wood and paint – I intertwined them. Sometimes it’s all paint, sometimes just small portions. I’m just trying to find that fine line – I really don’t know where my work’s going. I’m young – my work is sort of everywhere right now.”
It would be an overstatement, perhaps, to say that Jordan’s interest in wood developed from growing up in the woods in Townsend, Tennessee, but it is fair to say that he grew up around a lot of sawdust. “I grew up with woodworking tools in my hands. I’ve been around woodworking, carpentry and construction since day one. My family’s built three houses and my mom’s salon.”
Though he grew up on the “Quiet Side of the Smokies”, Jordan isn’t connected to any crafts tradition that defines his current output. And while his show features some of the staples that you might anticipate seeing from an artist with a woodworking background, it also includes a number of figurative pieces including some that come with a touch of whimsy – especially in his Golden Girls series. It’s a four piece collection of white wood sculpture set against a bright background that offers a unique perspective of the colorful TV characters’ faces.
“They’re sculptural pictures. They’re three dimensional and stand off the wall about 6 inches. I got my inspiration for that from Andy Warhol’s Lip Series. My thesis show was entitled From the Neck Up – everything was facial features. I anthropomorphize everything. I see faces everywhere I go – like in a beautiful piece of wood – I’ll find a face in it. Faces, lips, mouths draw my attention.”
Most of the pieces that Jordan includes in the show are eye-catching, with some that feature an intriguing sense of movement. In addition to his unique artistry, the work showcases Kear’s fine craftsmanship in some very detailed and loving carved wood. Don’t miss it.
Jordan’s work will be on view at the downtown Tomato Head restaurant on Market Square from February 7th through March 6th. After that the show moves to the West Knoxville Gallery Tomato Head from March 7th through April 4th.