51: John Randall Nelson

Categories: 100 Creatives

When we last put the spotlight on 100 creative forces in Phoenix, it was no secret there were more than 100 individuals who were making waves in the local arts community. So as we count down to our annual Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome (back) to 100 Creatives.

John Randall Nelson
John Randall Nelson is a Phoenix-based painter who describes his most recent work as largely anthropological.

"The imagery comes from a free-play of impression and association," he says. "I see it all as a sensible rendering of my insensible mind. It's a form of visual speech. Painting is a language that's more devious than words, more free to imply and allude, to strike out one way and then circle back another way."

Nelson finished his MFA at ASU in 1996, and in the last 15 years, he's produced commissions for the National Endowment for the Arts, The United States Postal Service, and the BIO5 / Institute for Bio-Research at the University of Arizona, to name a few. Currently his work is represented by Stremmel Gallery in Reno, Grover/Thurston Gallery in Seattle, and Gebert Gallery in LA, Scottsdale and Santa Fe.

Shine Babylon_500.jpg
John Randall Nelson
"Shine Babylon"
I came to Phoenix with ... my girlfriend in a Gremlin. I had the intention of studying Art and Business at ASU. I originally picked a major that I thought would lead to a decent job, but Art kept pushing and pulling at me. After I finished my MFA in 1996, I decided to commit full time to art making. With forays into design and illustration, I eventually settled into a career as a painter.

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John Randall Nelson
"Oh Glory"
I make art because ... I'm fascinated by the separate and coexisting outside and inside lives that I live. Seriously, the central motivation of my work revolves around a personal language of words, symbols and archetypes and how I understand (or don't understand) those symbols and archetypes. The subject of the work changes from piece to piece and from project to project but the core of it stems from my own created lexicon of figures and symbols.

I'm most productive when ... I've had a several of cups of espresso (or wine). Typically, I wake up at 8:00 a.m. My studio is attached to my house so the commute is easy. Primarily, I make art most of the day, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m to around 4:00 p.m. I get lost in the art making process; the researching, the drawing, the fabricating, I never get bored with it.

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John Randall Nelson
"Black Scruff"
My inspiration wall is full of ... Fay Jones, Margaret Kilgallen, Donald Baechler. Squeak Carnwath, Bill Traylor, Tony Fitzpatrick, H.C. Westermann, Michael Sarich, George Herriman, Martha Rich, Gary Komarin, Martin Mull, Barbara Rogers, Jonathan Rosen, Christina Mesiti, Phillip Guston, George Condo, and Alexander Pinto. I was initially influenced by the Italian Transavangard painters of the 80's and the Chicago Imagists of the 70's. But I've moved through several different concepts and influences. There are many painters that influence me, and just as many directions to go in. Somehow, though, it all gets distilled.

I've learned the most from ... Looking. My art epiphany happened when I took a serious look at American Folk Art and Outsider Art ... specifically Bill Traylor's drawings from the 30's. I suddenly realized just how powerful sincerity and honesty can be.

Good work should always... have small isolated figures, fragmented heads, shadow play, words, flowers and small animals.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more ... art as "Social Practice." ... kidding.

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John Randall Nelson
The Creatives, so far ... (And while you're here, check out 100 Tastemakers on Chow Bella.)

100:Lara Plecas
99. Isaac Caruso
98. Brandon Gore
97. Kelsey Dake
96. Hector Ruiz
95. Caroline Battle
94: Jennifer Campbell
93. Jeff Chabot
92. Tiffiney Yazzie
91. Daniel Germani
90. Irma Sanchez
89. Daniel m. Davis
88. Kirstin Van Cleef
87. Emmett Potter
86. Sarah Hurwitz
85. Christine Cassano
84. Fred Tieken
83. Lindsay Kinkade
82. Ruben Galicia
81. Robert Uribe
80. Heidi Abrahamson
79. Josephine Davis
78. Travis Ladue
77. Taz Loomans
76. Mikey Jackson
75. Alex Empty
74. Joe Ray
73. Carol Roque
72. Daniel Funkhouser
71. Carla Chavarria
70. Hugo Medina
69. Cavin Costello
68. Claire Carter
67. Lindsay Tingstrom
66. Catherine Ruane
65. Christopher Crosby
64. Aaron Johnson
63. Brenda Eden
62. Colton Brock
61. Ernesto Moncada
60. Benjamin Phillips
59. Brad Armstrong
58. Angela Hardison
57. Tyler Quinn
56. Andrew James Benson
55. Charles Anthony Darr
54: Tiffe Fermaint
53. Eric Cox
52. Victor Vasquez

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