The Art Journey of Jay Gaskill

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There is something about most contemporary artists that I just love – they’re simply driven to make art.  They can’t get out of the way of this primal need and I find it fascinating.  Jay Gaskill is a painter that fits this mold. I want to tell you a little more about Jay, how we met, why I am enamored with him and why I believe he is making really compelling artwork.

When I was planning to launch One River School, I wanted to kick off our first exhibition with a group show of emerging artists that were working in Brooklyn, NY, two rivers away from our location. When I was stumbling around Bushwick Open Studios, I popped into Jay Gaskill’s studio and was immediately impressed with him and his work.  After getting to know Jay and buying a couple of paintings, I asked him to participate in our inaugural show deftly titled “Two River”.

Jay’s work was a hit in that show and we wound up asking Jay to mount a solo exhibition a few months later.  The show included a variety of objects and it also is associated with one of my most intense art handling experiences. We carried an 11’ painting out the window and down the fire escape! I loved participating in all aspects of the exhibition experience, but it made it more special because Jay was such a great guy to work with.

Over the next few years, Jay was juggling full-time work and not getting enough time in the studio, and I could see the frustration building.  Frankly, I was disappointed because I know that a regular and recurring commitment to making work is the single most important way to grow and achieve professional growth in the art world. Even more so, I wanted Jay to make work because he has such a different approach to painting that simply yields really great outcomes.

Jay and his wife decided to make a substantial life change two years ago; they moved to Portland and my buddy is now making work that is better than ever! I can see on Instagram the progress over the last year and there are some new twists in the works, the forms and the colors that I think are really interesting.

Perhaps most important in all of this, Jay is the featured artist in our first exhibition at One River School in Lake Oswego, OR!  Things have come full circle, as a two time show participant at One River Schools, Jay is now etched in our history and shares an important legacy. I can’t say enough about how proud I am of him and urge everyone in the vicinity of greater Portland, OR to visit our new school take in the work.

I never would have known that both Jay and I would have fought the fight to stay committed to making things, Jay with his work and myself in opening schools! I also never would have guessed that one random drop in during June 2012 would lead to a long-term friendship and a number of professional encounters. Jay Gaskill, make more work because we have more schools on the drawing board.