Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
by Cathy Markes
If you’ve sipped and canape-ed your way through some less than stellar art exhibits, tilted your head quizically at some, stood back and squinted at others and then wondered why you even bothered to put on a clean shirt, there’s wonderful news.
Artist Jud Coveyou is exhibiting a collection of his paintings at the Pittman-Puckett Gallery inside the new Affirmations Center in Ferndale.
His collection of 29 works offers an unforgettable look at one man’s introspective view of his world. The art is bright, engaging. His subjects are — refreshingly — people he actually likes, but they are more than portraits. Situational presentations. And fantastic. In Jenny’s Car, Frontroom and Birches, we’re introducted to his parents and encounter their quiet life. Monotypes Pucci’s Posse, Partly Cloudy, Chinese Checkers and Other, offer subjects warmly, affectionately rendered in witty and layered surroundings.
After touring his pre-opening exhibit, I sat down with Jud for insights into his work. I wondered if his layering was a hint at time’s passage? “Not necessarily.” Jud says that his process is cumulative, one with which he uses different memories, photographs and techniques to accomplish his impressions and mood. “You use everything you can, and everything you are in your work,” he says.
“Even your years in advertising?” (We had worked together for the same firm years ago.)
“Oh sure, I must,” Jud laughs, explaining the work cycles in his particular end of the ad business. (He and his department made graphics: parts of an automobile that were complex for mechanical and sales training.)
Born in St Ignace, a small town just over the Mackinaw Bridge, there were no art classes offered during his primary education years. Asked if a parent or relation had artistic “persuasion” for him, he chucks softly and answers, “No, it just had to come out.”
Study for M.E. and Maternal Equinox — sister pieces — take us to his upper peninsula with its vast horizons, big water and endlessly twinkling night skies. Three women are painted, each enjoying the moment in her own special, reflective way, in her own time. Here Jud offers swirls, dips and a sweeping dotted sky, making us feel the cool northern night breeze.
The Affirmations exhibit is a lifetime away from his first show in the late 1970s at The Arnold Klein Gallery. His paintings were mostly oil. He received complimentary reviews, and promptly sold every painting in the exhibit. “Courage to change is essential'” he says, defying complacency in the face of success.
So, now, in addition to oils, his vision is conveyed in linotypes, monotypes, gouache. Some offer loud, contrasting continuums. Others are beguiling in simplicity. In the contrasting work entitled Celestial – a man and a woman, simply dressed, stand totally compliant, content, looking forward. In stark contrast, the sky around them is ablaze with florescent colors and given dimension with applied bits of paper scattered throughout the sky, bringing the setting and mood closer to the viewer.
Mayhem and Slow Dissolve are stolen fractions of time. Masterfully, Jud creates scenes that most viewers can identify with and crafts these into defining moments with sensitivity and affection. He has the rare ability to locate the very instant that sets a moment uniquely apart. Magically, he saves it for us. Which way the breeze blows a skirt. At just what point in a porch swing’s arc has meaning. These visual gestures give the viewer a sense of where the subject has been in time and then where it and the mood it conveys is going.
David Hockney and Phillip Gusten inspire Jud’s work. But, of the artist who influences him most is Edward Hopper. “He alone, as an American artist, paints a specific moment in time – different than the Dutch master Vermeer, but the light, the use of light is the true brilliance of Hopper”.
Jud is now in his last year of sharing his skills and inspiring high school students before retiring, and he wouldn’t trade that experience. It fuels a certain creative part of him. “Teaching makes me feel more necessary…more relevant,” he says.
Jud Coveyou isn’t sure how his next phase of art will look, but I think we should all be there. And wearing a fresh pair of socks!