Published on July 21st, 2014 | by Nature Humphries0
July is Faulkner Season in Oxford – Local Artist’s Series of Paintings Coexists with Literary Conference
This article originally appeared in The Local Voice #208.
To download a PDF of this issue, click here.
Oxford, Miss (TLV) – Local Christian folk artist J-MAN has a fantastic series, “Meet the Faulkers: The Many Fictional Faces of William Faulkner,” currently on display at The Frame Up/Basement Gallery.
The series of paintings features bizarre, colorful images of Oxford’s favorite literary mascot accompanied by punny phrases. The eye-catching compositions are mixed media on plywood and depict playful images of William Faulkner in various poses and outfits. One of my personal favorites features a speech bubble with Faulkner stating “Geaux to Hell!” underneath “FAULK LSU!” in spangled letters.
The showing has been going on since July 7th and will continue until the 31st, but J-MAN is still adding new pieces. As of press time, he told me that his current favorite Faulkner is “the one I’m painting right now, ‘Saturday Night Faulkner.’ It’s a play on Saturday Night Fever.” There will be a reception for the showing on Monday, July 21st from 6–8 pm with music by Wendy Garrison.
When I asked J-MAN what inspired him to paint this series, he replied: “I’ve been painting Faulkner for about three years. It all started with my desire to create an Oxford coloring book. I drew the images, scanned them into my computer, then moved onto another idea. A few years later, I ran across the Faulkner image and decided to do an Andy Warhol style painting as a joke. People loved it and I’ve been painting him ever since.”
Some of the paintings’ titles substitute “Faulk” for a similar-sounding expletive, leading to those clever phrases, like “Faulk All Ya’ll” and “Mother Faulker.” As a language nerd myself, I enjoy this type of word play, but J-MAN says it initially made him uncomfortable.
“Being a Christian artist,” he said, “it’s taken me that long to come to terms with the rudeness of the paintings, but they have become conversation starters. Through the vulgarity, I have dialogue with people that would normally not be discussing God. Plus, they’re just funny!”
I asked J-MAN if he was a longtime fan of Faulkner, and if so, what his favorite novel is. He said, “My favorite Faulkner novel is Cabin Road by William Faulkner’s younger brother John Faulkner. One of the funniest books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. As for William, it’s just too dry for me, although I am reading Light In August right now.”
This showing happens to coincide with The 41st Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, “Faulkner & History,” taking place July 20–24 at the University of Mississippi, in Oxford. This conference, offered through the UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education, “will gather writers, teachers, students and other lovers of Faulkner’s work from the fields of History and Literary Studies for five days of lectures and discussions exploring Faulkner’s imaginative vision of historical forces, processes, and events, the shaping role of such events on his literary oeuvre, his significance as a historical figure in his own right, and the impact of his ideas about history, memory, and the past on historians and their discipline.” Find out more about the conference and this year’s events at www.outreach.olemiss.edu/events/faulkner/.
You can always purchase prints at The Frame Up, and we also spied some of his work in the cool art vending machine located at Cups Espresso Café at 1501 Jackson Ave. W., a new coffee shop a couple of doors down from Express Computer Service. If you’re interested in seeing more of J-MAN’s artwork, besides just the Faulkner series, go check out his Etsy page at www.Etsy.com/shop/TheArtOfJMAN. You can find some church scenes, as well as many more pieces in his signature folk art style.