Artist John Newsom’s Oklahoma roots are clear in his large-scale, hyper-realistic paintings of flora and fauna. His newest and biggest exhibit to date is about to take center stage at Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center.
Newsom was born in Enid, Oklahoma, but has spent his career in New York. He studied painting
and art from grade school through graduate work at NYU, and has traveled extensively—the influences of Japanese painters and Mexican muralists are present in his work. “I have always carried the landscape of the western plains within me throughout my life and travels,” Newsom said,
when asked how Oklahoma influenced his eventual aesthetic. “It is a space I can reference in my imagination or ‘image-nation,’ if you will. This not only appears in a pictorial image of a landscape, but also those creatures which inhabit it. ‘Homecoming’ and ‘Harvest’ (two pieces that will
be on display) are prime examples of a combination of both. In each painting, one sees the nature of the ground and the dynamics of the activities of daily natural life within the atmosphere of the scene.”
John Newsom: Nature’s Course is Newsom’s first exhibition in Oklahoma. The artist notes: “It’s a real honor to be presenting this exhibition in my home state. It’s humbling and I’m very grateful to the museum’s staff as well as the collectors, patrons and advisors who have been instrumental in bringing a show of this magnitude to fruition.”
Jeremiah Davis, artistic director of Oklahoma Contemporary, was provided with what Newsom believed to be his “top 50” paintings from over the last 20 years. Davis picked 30 paintings to highlight Newsom’s career in the upcoming exhibition. Newsom is also currently completing the title piece, “Nature’s Course,” which will have its debut at Oklahoma Contemporary, and measures a staggering 9 x 18 feet.
Newsom said that he hopes his art is accessible to all viewers on some level. “I make my paintings for everyone,” he said. “If the viewer gives ample time to the painting, then the painting will slowly envelop them and give to them an experience. What they feel depends on the individual, but the space is open to all.”