An eco-friendly painter? Are you kiddin’ me? Only in the eco-friendly United States Virgin Islands! Because where one of the best beaches is called “Chocolate Hole…” …we have a “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” kind of “twist". Using discarded Splenda bags to smear oil paint on canvas – abandoned kitchen utensils to “draw” lines in paint already there – and even his own fingers and hands to apply pigments – St. Croix artist John F. McCarthy is saving a tree by painting without brushes! “In my most successful paintings, the paintbrush never touches the canvas,” says the 45-year-old McCarthy. And he’s not joking, either, because his signature technique involves throwing the paint directly out of the tube – baseball-style – onto the canvas. And a baseball town turns out to be big fan of his work. Chicago’s Aldo Castillo Contemporary Art Gallery has contracted to show five of his “action-impact” paintings from September 5th to October 11th. Titles of the works to be displayed are: “Cow Skull Sunrise,” “Venus Fly Trap,” “Warhol Does Pollack,” “Yellow Stairs,” and “Syringe Effect: Death Throes.” John F. McCarthy promotes his work with a Premiere Portfolio at absolutearts.com.
According to the artist’s website, these works represent the beginnings of his action-impact and drip paintings series inspired by the late Wyoming-born abstract expressionist Jackson Pollack, known in non-art circles as “Jack The Dripper.”
Not bad for someone who only reluctantly agreed to “sell” one painting in his whole life. (For $450 to benefit a St. Croix domestic violence counseling center.)
McCarthy says he paints only for himself and never planned to support himself through his art – but now with national attention from Illinois – and locally here in the Virgin Islands Monday with an arts feature article by Carol Buchanan in the St. Croix Source online newspaper (http://stx.onepaper.com/) – he has been forced to grapple with the idea of letting some of his “children” leave the nest.
“I have a deep emotional connection to my art,” he says. “Anyone who has ever made art just for the sake of making art – and not for making commerce – knows that it is extremely difficult to let someone else ‘abduct’ it from you no matter what the compensation.”
About three weeks ago, McCarthy contracted with the Van Nuys, California-based company “Ambrosiart” to produce giclee posters (for $500-$600) of “Confetti Cyclone,” “Orange Grinch,” “Iraq,” “Cotton Candy or Buried Bee” and many other paintings from his signature Triptych Series.
As for the Willy Wonka angle, just as Charlie Bucket found one of five “golden wrappers” in one of the chocolate bars he purchased – John intends to reward five lucky benefactors – over the course of his planned lifelong artistic career -- with the knowledge that they’ve found a yellow Splenda wrapper of their own.
Asked what is the reward in that? “Well, for one it’s a sign that I thought it was one of my best. And two, there’s only going to be five bags in thousands of paintings painted over however long I live.”
“If a painting is going really well, I always bury a Splenda bag beneath the thickest layers of paint,” McCarthy added. “Some day, just as scientists a few days ago (after 121 years) found that van Gogh had painted over a portrait of a woman from ‘The Potato Eaters’ in one of his works – you’ll find a few ‘golden wrappers.’ I don’t know why I do it – maybe I’m a squirrel trapped in an artist’s body?”
Or crazy like a fox. With the news that his 27 years of secret painting would finally be made public Monday, the day before McCarthy raised the prices of four of his works into the stratosphere. Asked about his actions, the artist replied:
“I just like those works (priced out of reach) a lot and don’t want anyone to buy them right now,” the native Detroiter says. “It’s much more likely that one of the Splenda wrappers is in one of the five works going to Chicago.”
Even more curious, he’s made arrangements with the Aldo Castillo Gallery to ensure that none of his works can be x-rayed before being purchased.
For more information please go to absolutearts.com/portfolios/j/johnmac or http://johnmccarthy.30art.com/. Or Kristina Hope from Ambrosiart at (818) 905-5759 or (818) 389-7838.
Many of John’s best-known works will be on display in the Vast Imagery Gallery of 4 STAR REAL ESTATE in the Gallows Bay Marketplace from August 4-9. For more information about how to schedule an appointment to view the works please call Gallery Curator Louise Stapleton at 719-4146 x100 or 719-7504.
Artist: John Mccarthy
Title: Cow Skull Sunrise
Year Created: 2008
Medium: Painting Oil
Width: 30 inches
Height: 48 inches
Depth: 0.8 inches
Price: US$ 900