Jon Sarkin has conjured up a series of original legal riffs for the Law & Water Gallery. From deep veins of literature, language, and history, Sarkin mined raw material into statements that are provocative, and, often, uncannily accurate.
Located in the storefront law office of Ken Riaf on Gloucester’s Harbor Walk, the Law & Water Gallery is open on weekends (Saturdays 12 – 5 pm) and by appointment.
Sarkin’s amazing odyssey into art is documented in Pulitzer Prize winning author Amy Nutt’s book, Shadows Bright as Glass: The Remarkable Story of One Man’s Journey from Brain Trauma to Artistic Triumph.
Sarkin’s work has been exhibited in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Decordova, and is in private collections throughout the world. In the Spring of 2013, he is scheduled to speak about his art and his life at Oxford University in England.
In 1988, Jon Sarkin was working full-time as a chiropractor, when one day, a sharp, paralyzing pain shot through his head. In the weeks after, he suffered from a constant ringing in his ear, and from distortions in his hearing that made even soft noises intolerably loud. Soon after, a visit to the doctor would reveal the source of Sarkin’s suffering, a swollen blood vessel in his brain, which had expanded and impinged on his auditory nerve. The only remedy would be brain surgery, the results of which could range from complete success to catastrophe. When Sarkin awoke after the surgery, his head was bleeding profusely. And something else had changed.
Sarkin had suffered a stroke during surgery, and even after the initial stages of recovery– relearning speech, sitting, walking and other basic tasks– his family would come to notice sweeping changes in his personality. He was considerably less restrained in conversation, unable to filter his thoughts, less responsive to the concerns of others, and distant. As a husband and father, he simply was not the same. Despite the strain put on many of his relationships though, Sarkin soon developed a new passion of sorts. Or maybe it would be more accurate to call it a compulsion. Jon had begun to draw– quite often –and he couldn’t seem to stop.
He began to doodle, and then to flesh out full-blown drawings, with increasing intentionality and complexity. He drew everywhere, even at the dinner table, or in the middle of conversations. Sarkin became obsessive about the drawings, producing pieces of art constantly, often without any explanation. Whatever change his brain had undergone as a result of the stroke, it had unlocked in Jon a seemingly boundless reservoir of artistic inspiration which he seemed to channel instinctively.
It was almost as if he had no say in the matter– he simply had to create. When asked about the meaning of his pieces, Sarkin seemed at a loss, unable to explain the subconscious process behind his sudden burst of creativity. Over the next decade, he began to sell drawings to various publications, and abandoned his former profession. 2003 would see Sarkin’s first solo art exhibition in New York, but certainly not his last, as he managed to rack up $20,000 in sales over the first few hours.
Today, Sarkin is as active as ever artistically, having produced and sold thousands of drawings, mixed-media collages and other pieces. All backstory aside, the content of the work is fascinating too. Bright colors, illegible scribbles, obscure poetic phrases, names and faces of other artists and pop culture inspirations– Sarkin’s work reveals an extraordinary mind at work, a signature style that suggests the chaos of the creative process behind it. From chiropractor to fine art cult hero. I suppose you never know where life will take you. Featured here is a brief selection of Jon’s work. More from him here, and more about his story here.
JANUARY 5, 2012 BY B. WILLIAMS
<a href=”http://wineandbowties.com/art/jon-sarkin-compulsive-creativity/” target=”_blank”>Check out the feature article on wineandbowties.com</a>
Jim and Cold Sweat, cos that’s what everybody in Alphabetville calls him cos every time that James Brown song Cold Sweat comes on, he goes absolutely apeshit. One time I was at a party down on Avenue C, and that song comes on and Cold Sweat, man, he got like a whirling top on fire. He starting getting crazy, breaking shit and shit, and whose party it was called the cops and they haul Cold Sweat down to Bellvue – that’s the big looney bin the got there in New York – pump his ass fulla thorazine and he’s drooling and mumbling “I break out in a cold sweat!” over and over and all, in restraining straps and shit. Shit. I wonder what he’s doing now. Jim said he moved to the Midwest, back home, to Iowa or some shit. Alphabetville ain’t the same without Cod Sweat. Shit, I miss him powerful.
Another rainy night here in Edge City. I’m not making this up; I really *am* in Edge City, California, on the coast about ten miles or so from the Oregon border. All it ever seems to do up here is rain. I ain’t seen the sun since I don’t know when. I stole that from Johnny Cash. Why not steal from the best? Remember that time in high school when we stole your Uncle Monty’s Mercedes? “If you’re gonna steal a car,” you said, “why not steal the best?” As you can see, Lou, I’ve taken this advice to heart, lodged it permanently in that part of the cortex that we reserve for IMPORTANT LESSONS. But what good are they in this day and age, where attention is measured in nanoseconds and *American Idol *is the coin of the realm? Hell, nine out of ten Americans think that New York is in China! * * * *Truly, Jim* *
Jim wished that he could relate to what she was saying but the truth was that he was deaf to her verbal marksmanship. At least that’s what she thought about her sentences, that they constituted some kind of verbal marksmanship. Jim thought that this was a load of crap, really, and was about to tell her so when he thought better. Was this what our country had become, a nation of verbal marksmen taking aim at each other, word-sniping? If it was, well, he wasn’t going to live in such a place, No, he’d tail it where there were a hell of a lot fewer men talking that kind of shit, where the green grass procluded such tomfoolery. “God’s will!” thought Jim, to no one in particular. When he was a kid, he used to pray a lot. One time, he prayed that his dog would be turned into solid gold and then he would melt down the gold dog and feed all the hungry kids in the world. Of course, his yearning never amounted to anything and eventually he went to work in New York’s garment district. But back to her verbal jousting. Jim thought it sinful to be as verbally aggressive as she was being, offending his soul with her venomous phrases. He felt like he was being buried and burnt alive at the same time. But he had faith that she would stop and stop she did. He went outside. It was a warm Arkansas evening, one that reminded him of that night years ago when Westmoreland and he had stomachs full of wine and passed out in old man Johnson’s pasture. They’d woken up the next morning with heads that felt like lead crowns. It’s times like this that you could see old age down the road, thought Jim, as he looked up in the Arkansas sky. Tomorrow was his day off. Don’t forget to pick up the dry cleaning, he told himself.
Jon Sarkin is a self-taught contemporary American artist. The neurological effects of a stroke in 1989 led him to be a wildly prolific artist. This condition, known as "sudden artistic output," profoundly affected his perception of the world, and this change is reflected in his art. His work is influenced by popular culture, comics, literature, and music. He has been featured in many publication and documentaries, including GQ, The New Yorker, The New York Times, ArtNews, Primetime Live, the Discovery Channel and the BBC. He has exhibited in several locations, including New York, London, Los Angeles and Boston. His biography, Shadows Bright As Glass, was written in 2011 by Pulitzer-prize winning author Amy Ellis Nutt. Paramount Pictures and Tom Cruise have purchased his life rights for an upcoming movie.
He works in Goucester, Massachusetts where he lives with his wife and three children.
Jon Sarkin Exhibit “The Unchained Brain” at Open Door Gallery. Reception May 5, 2016 4-7pm Posted Wednesday April 27 2016 at 07:14 am. Used tags: art, boston, gallery, vsa Photo by Jared Charney Jon […]
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