Published on April 24th, 2014 | by TLV News0
Local Artist Lowdown: Jason Heavner, a.k.a. J-MAN
Learn more about this year’s TLV Double Decker Cover Artist
Have you seen this year’s cover yet? It’s awesome!
Name? Jason Heavner, but most everyone calls me J-MAN
What’s your hometown, and how long have you been in Oxford? I am originally from Jackson, Tennessee, but have lived in Oxford for the past ten years. Jackson had no culture back then: no arts, literary, or musical scenes, so we moved to Oxford to raise our daughter in a better environment.
Art style: I create outsider/folk art with a modern pop art twist. My paintings are very simple and straightforward in design and meaning. As my favorite review of my artwork said, “That’s not bad…for a 2 year old.”
Art education? I have no formal training in any artistic mediums. I am a self-taught painter, photographer, and musician and apply the DIY lifestyle to pretty much everything I do.
Early art experience? I have been drawing for as long as I remember, but my earliest artistic memory is from 1st grade. I would draw what I thought were perfect, but were actually quite crude, portraits of famous musicians and sell them to my classmates for a quarter/fifty cents… whatever they would pay. Michael Jackson, Boy George, Madonna, etc… I sold a ton of them. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was either a rock-star or an artist. I chased the rock-n-roll dream for 20+ years playing guitar, bass, drums, and piano in various bands, if any of them could really be called that, and decided it was time for a change. I’ve been a full-time artist since.
Favorite artists? I love Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, but I would have to say Howard Finster is my absolute favorite. His style was just so childlike and had such a realness about it. I fell in love with his use of biblical references and how he let his artwork speak for his ministry. I love the raw power of Thorton Dial Sr. and Jimmy Lee Sudduth’s use of homemade pigments. Van Gogh’s texture… The surrealism of Heironymous Bosch. This could easily become a very long list.
Favorite medium: I paint with house paint on reclaimed plywood from construction-site dumpsters. My wife and I are very “green” people, for lack of a non-trendy term. We believe in being good stewards of all that God has given us, including this amazingly beautiful planet. So, if I can take something that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill and use that to put a smile on someone’s face, what more could anyone ask?
Favorite artistic tool or implement: My favorite artistic tool would have to be my pencil and index cards. I start everything I do with a rough sketch on an index card.
Where do you get the inspiration for your art? About 95% of the inspiration for everything I try to do and be in life including my artwork comes from the Bible. The remaining 5% comes from my incredibly strange sense of humor that was instilled in me at a very young age by trying to cope with being raised in an extremely dysfunctional redneck Brady Bunch meets Breaking Bad kind of family. But that’s a whole other story.
Most productive hours? Still trying to figure that out.
Favorite project you’ve completed: I just finished a painting for the “Art In A Bottle” juried exhibit at the Powerhouse June 2–28 that I’m really excited about. The exhibit is sponsored by Cathead Vodka—they supplied bottles which all the artists have to use any way they wish in their project. But, since I can’t show that one yet, my favorite would have to be a life-size painting of a Sailfish I did about a year ago for a show I did here in Oxford.
Do you have a studio? If so, where is it located? My wife, Amanda, is a full-time artist as well, and we home-school our daughter, Lyric, so we actually all share a space in our house. We have this huge table in the middle of the room; and my wife has her space, my daughter has her school area, and I have my workspace. It’s tight, especially when I’m working on larger paintings, but I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. We’ve talked about building a studio, but I just can’t justify building another space when there are people living in their cars or on the streets. And, as my father used to always say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’ve had no problems creating my art in the current setup, so we’ll keep it as-is for now.
How much time per day do you spend on your art? On a typical day, I try to spend at least 8 hours on my art. This is my job and I try to treat it as that, but I don’t “clock in.” Honestly, I never even look at clocks or calendars. I’d be lost without my wife to keep me on schedule. Home-schooling the daughter means we take a lot of field-trips and there are a lot of unexpected distractions when you work from home. At the end of most work weeks, I have definitely put in more than 40 hours regardless of how much time per day I spend painting. During festival season, those hours increase exponentially.
Do you have a “day job”? If so, where? No day job. I am a full time artist… or as I sometimes say… I am occupationally challenged.
Can we see any of your art on display? My art is always on display at The Frame Up/Basement Gallery on the Oxford square. It can be found in New Albany, Miss. at The Union County Heritage Museum or at The Art Of Dixie (www.theartofdixie.com). My wife and I are organizers with the Oxford Maker’s Market and can be found the first Saturday of the month on the courthouse lawn here in Oxford from 10 am–4 pm along with a ton of other local artists and live music. We will also be located in booth 130 at the Double Decker Festival. In June, July, and September, my artwork will be on display for various events at the Powerhouse. I can also be found online at www.theartofjman.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/TheArtOfJMAN .
Favorite band(s)? I literally have 200,000+ songs on my PC and cannot paint without music playing, so it would be impossible for me to list my favorite. I listen to all genres. I’m really digging The Wineskins from right here in Oxford. Keith Moore is such a great songwriter and musician. I’m majorly into bluegrass gospel and am really digging Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder and all the old Stanley Brothers stuff. But that’s usually followed up by some Allman Brothers Band and some stoner jam band stuff. Tomorrow, it could be Neurosis and Sabbath. Who knows? My favorite musician is Jerry Douglas though. Phenomenal dobro player!
Favorite book(s)/author(s)? My favorite book is the Bible, preferably King James Version. There’s just something that’s so poetic about that translation. I just read The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. That was definitely a life-changing book. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is an amazing book. I also read a lot of old westerns. Zane Grey and Max Brand. There’s something to be said for the cheesiness of some of those old western novels. Walden by Henry David Thoreau is one of my all-time favorites as well.
What are some of your other hobbies? I love nature. I love hiking back-country trails. I love working in our vegetable garden. I love learning new ways to live a more simple life while leaving a smaller footprint on the earth. What I love most is spending quality time with my wife and daughter playing board games or a little high stakes penny poker.
What do you love about Oxford, and what do you wish you could change? I love the rich culture in Oxford, the fact that I can take my daughter to Square Books and let the actual authors tell her what their books are about. Or that we can go to the numerous art galleries and immerse ourselves in such a diverse creative atmosphere. Oxford still attracts such amazing live music and we have so many great venues like Proud Larry’s and the Lyric Theater that totally support the local music scene. Oxford is just a great town. However, there are some things I would change, but we’ll just have to wait to discuss those until the next mayoral election… J-MAN for mayor??? Anyone???