By Melissa Seipel
Graphic Art Director, Rockford Art Museum
The Rockford Art Museum (RAM) Art Annex is an education space and also features artwork by local artists. Currently showing in the RAM Art Annex is 30-year-old Rockford native Jesus Correa. If that name sounds familiar to you, it may be because in addition to making artwork, Correa has recently been in the public periphery through his run as mayoral candidate.
Although very shy and soft-spoken, Correa claims one of the reasons he makes art is because he is generally not good at talking, and it is his way of talking. When asked if there is a message in the work, his response: “Not on purpose,” and, in fact, instead of having a plan, he lets the work evolve and likes to “just see what happens.”
He is most inspired by childhood heroes like Charles Schultz and Daniel Klaus. With a playful color palette of sky blue, avocado green and rusty oranges, and the peculiar addition of clumsy knitted pieces and random nails, the seemingly innocent images beckon a closer inspection. It then becomes clear something is awry. Correa’s quirky characters seem to be from a forgotten population of misfits. His vacuous landscapes contain sketchy caricatures reminiscent of a Shel Silverstein book, but only as far as the painting style. Wearing bizarre rompers, some of his characters have freakishly out-of-proportion limbs and bear the world’s most cruel jokes. With titles like “The Germs Would Have Killed a Smaller Man,” it is difficult not to find these scenarios amusing. Some are playfully cerebral, including “Endoplasmic Reticulum’s Gone Wild” with crude line drawings of the former in meticulous detail.
With no formal training in art, Correa says he has “a lot of patience with inking. I am really sloppy and loose with most things, crediting part of that to also being a performer. I am really, really meticulous about it. …” Same as knitting, which is something that he has recently gotten into. He says it has a kind of meditative quality for him. “It’s just a thing that I do,” he said.
When asked about common themes in his artwork, Correa credits recently falling two stories off a roof in Chicago as an impetus for falling being one of the themes. Strangely, he didn’t break anything, but regrets that he killed a pigeon in the process, unclear if the unintentional pigeoncide happened mid-flight or on the ground. These are the kind of stories Correa is telling.
Artwork by Jesus Correa remains on view in the RAM Art Annex through Sunday, Sept. 19. For more information, call Rockford Art Museum at (815) 968-2787.
Contact RAM Graphic Art Director Melissa Seipel at email@example.com.
From the Aug. 25-31, 2010 issue