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Arts and Entertainment

Local Artist's 'Chromatic Pop' Images on Display This Month

(Image courtesy Jesse Schwartz)

A helicopter mechanic for both the U.S. military and the Federal government, Jesse Schwartz retired two years ago in order to spend more time pursuing his love and talent for visual art.  Jesse has a show opening at Classic Rock Coffee, 1900 W. Sunset, Saturday March 12 with a meet-and-greet from 6:00 to 8:00pm; his work will be on display there for the next two weeks, and the pieces are all available for sale.

Jesse is also studying art here at Missouri State University, but is taking this semester off.  His interest in art developed early in life. "I'm dyslexic, and so I didn't excel in school with all the other subjects. But art was one of the subjects I did excel in, and found my way through that." He started his career in the Air Force in 1979. After two years as a helicopter mechanic he continued doing the same work on government helicopters. 25 years later in 2006, Jesse's oldest son had already served a tour of military duty. "The war was going on, and I thought, 'You know, I still feel young enough'--I was 46 at the time--'I still have something to offer.' And I decided to go back into the military.  So I went back in in the Army as a Blackhawk helicopter mechanic, and did that until I retired in 2014."

All that time Jesse had continued to make art in various forms: drawing, painting, sculpting, carving. In fact, after he left the military the first time in 1981 he worked free-lance in the graphic arts field, doing book illustrations and specializing in murals--first in Phoenix, later in Omaha, and finally, starting in 2000, here in Springfield.

He describes the graphic work he did as being "the old-fashioned way." And his current favorite technique is also decidedly "old school." Jesse calls it "Chromatic Pop." "It's takign icons, whether from history, music, television.  I work on very large canvasses, 4 feet by 4 feet. I start out by throwing three contrasting colors onto the canvas, and I trowel that on randomly.  After that's dried I go back in and put the face of the subject"--derived from photographs and other sources. "I select a photograph that I think captures the subject the best. And I just start layering color on color on color.  They're very vibrant, bright colors. And I never know what it's going to look like until it's finished.  It's very intuitive."

Appropriate to the venue, Jesse's images on display at Classic Rock Coffee are of rock music icons like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Alice Cooper, or Bob Dylan.

Jesse Schwartz has more exhibits coming up in the next few months. "I was picked up by Obelisk Home as a Featured Artist for July, so I'm really excited about that.  It'll be all my Chromatic work and perhaps some of my other works as well. Also, I was selected as one of the sculptors to be put into the Springfield Sculpture Walk downtown." (Inaugurated in 2013, the next round of Springfield Sculpture Walk will reveal new sculptures beginning May 5, 2016 in Ozarks Jubilee Memorial Park downtown.)

Unlike some artists, Jesse's government/military retirement pension affords him the luxury of not having to worry about the financial side of art creation. "I don't have the stress that maybe some other artists have." He can create what he likes, when he likes. Of course, when people like his work and want to purchase it, that's definitely a plus!

You can view not only Jesse's Chromatic Pop images but other artwork at his website,