Jon Rannells is an extraordinarily creative human being. As a playwright, his works have been put up internationally, as a screenwriter he’s not only prolific, but three of his scripts have been produced, including the hilarious and poignant Ruby Booby, which he directed himself and which stars two of the most fabulous actors to come out of Canada, Tara Samuel and Jon’s partner in life, Kathryn Winslow. In Canada, Jon is known for his comedy chops in commercials and TV, including his role as ‘Terminal’ Todd Maplethorpe in the hockey comedy Power Play.
And now, over the last few years, he has become an abstract expressionist painter. His new show, Ligna, Caementa, Ignis, happens this Saturday June 25, 2016 at NoBo Studio, 835 North Broadway, Los Angeles 90012 at 7pm. It’s a one night only event, and if you want my advice, don’t miss it.
The first time I saw Jon’s paintings I got that excitement in my heart that only visual art brings me. I walked around his yard full of four-by-four panels (that’s the biggest size that he can haul home from Home Depot in his car) with glee, babbling on about Rothko, Kandinsky, Pollock – and my German predecessor faves Emil Nolde and Paul Klee. I’ve often wished i could have been around in New York in the 1940’s to witness the rise of this in-your-face movement, and the ensuing 1960’s stuff from Jack Whitten, Jay DeFeo and others that took concept and texture to another level.
Jon did not go to art school, but he’s got an artist spirit that moves color and form around with skill, complexity and emotion. Sometimes self-taught artists create the most interesting work because they’re not hung up on labels or pedigree – they’re just throwing their soul out for the world to see. I am a big fan of that.
“I’d have to say my muse is really Home Depot. I can wander the aisles for hours trying to think of different and unique applications for whatever I find,” says Jon about his work that employs a technique he calls “construction and then selective dismantlement.” He builds up layers of acrylic, plaster, foam, sand and spray paint and more on either wood or canvas, and then he sands, chips and scrapes away to reveal what is underneath.
It’s hard to fully see the texture in Internet photos, but there are daring gauges and mountainous ridges to behold in person.
Jon’s style is evolving, and his aesthetic moves from space-rock dayglo to three-panel wood carvings. Since his whole endeavor with painting was born from a need for original art on his own walls, there’s a serious ‘hang-ability’ here that is undeniable. Indeed, I bought one on the spot that day in his yard workspace. Mine is a dark blue and black moody piece with highlights of white and red that remind me of the vital necessity for inspiration and connection in the murky water of life. It thrills me every day.
I encourage all my friends in the LA area to come out and get inspired and connected on Saturday night!