ITINERANT ARTIST PROJECT:
2000-2001 and beyond
~ traveling through the US,
exchanging artwork for hospitality
To see Jim's latest work:
How You Can Participate
Being a Host
How it Works
Personal Background Information
Periodically over the next few years, I will be working as an
itinerant painter, traveling through various parts of the United States
by car, staying with a series of hosts, painting landscape studies
wherever I go, and trading artwork (small paintings) for hospitality
(2-4 days room and board).
The Itinerant Artist Project (IAP) officially got under way
on March 30, 2000, when I set out on a cross-country drive to visit
people and places in about 30 locations--from the Chesapeake Bay to the
California coast--where I’d been invited to paint.
My hosts were an even mix of acquaintances and strangers, people
who had heard about the project by word of mouth, e-mail announcements
or through a classified ad I posted in the Nation.
I’ve met many people I never would have known and seen places
I’d never expected to see. For
the most part, the painting went well, and sharing my art with people
interested in opening their homes to a traveling landscape painter
created a rare opportunity for mutual enrichment and exchange.
With this project I am exploring a unique strategy for
surviving as an artist, while extending my work to a wider audience.
In addition, the itinerancy framework allows me to investigate,
through practice and conversation, issues relating to art, value,
connection and communication that I've been thinking about lately.
I see the project as a cultural experiment; a revival and
reformulation of an old American tradition; a welcome chance to practice
gift exchange instead of marketing; and an opportunity for me to visit
with old friends and new patrons while painting a lot.
I plan to do my IAP work--in separate stages--on three
geographic scales: national, regional and local. The location and shape
of a given tour depends on where I am able to locate hosts.
Unlike the itinerant painters of earlier times, I arrange most of
my stops in advance, although I try to keep my schedule flexible enough
to allow for unexpected developments.
In 2000, I successfully completed a national tour
and a New England regional tour (see the IAP TOURS section).
For 2001, I am considering a local itinerancy through upstate New
York, as well as further regional tours. Because of its unique
challenges and rewards, I plan devote some time to itinerancy each year
for the foreseeable future.
HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE
This project depends on the participation of others.
You can participate by telling people about it, becoming a host
or contacting me with any thoughts or feedback.
With the project now under way, there is also the possibility of
purchasing artwork done on tour. Please
see the note below on sales and commissions.
BEING A HOST
I will only go where I am
invited and, for the most part, will travel to parts of the country
where I have enough invitations to make the travel economical.
Once I have a list of potential hosts and the times of year they
would consider hosting, I can begin to shape my travel plans.
So please let me know as early as possible if you are considering
being a host!
I will want to know:
where you live and a little bit about your surroundings; what
times of the year you could consider putting up an itinerant painter for
a few days; whether a shorter or longer visit appeals to you; how far in
advance you would like to establish a definite visiting date; and any
other points that seem important to you.
Email is the most efficient means of communication, but if you do not have
regular access to email, please include a phone number or mailing address
in your message. I welcome the chance to answer any questions and establish some rapport
through correspondence before establishing any plans.
My primary requirement is a
quiet and private room for sleeping and working.
Besides basic room and board, I do not need much more than a
chair and a light. When
working on small-format paintings, I do not use solvents or splash paint;
it's a tidy process requiring no special facilities.
I do not need to be entertained but look forward to getting to
know my hosts and the landscape they live in.
I will gladly furnish an
extensive list of personal references on request.
HOW IT WORKS
There is an element of the unknown to all of this.
So far, however, the "gift exchange"--art for
hospitality--has been a pleasant and mutually-enriching thing.
I should note that the paintings traded for hospitality are
typically not commissioned scenes but small studies of subjects that
catch my interest. They
have been comparable to paintings I regularly sell for $150 -$400.
Please note that most of the painting I do while touring will be
directed toward a series of exhibits documenting the trip (and will be
for sale to offset project expenses). While some people have been happy to put me up simply to
support the project, my hosts at each stop are entitled to a painting
and may choose whether or not to make the painting available for
inclusion in any exhibitions.
The digital portfolio
at this site should give a rough sense of my range and overall approach
to landscape. The paintings
I make during the Itinerant Artist Project will be mainly small
landscape studies executed in oil on panel.
Exactly what I will paint in each location and how I will paint
it remains, of course, a mystery until I get there.
In general, my work is quite accessible, effectively conveying a
sense of place, light and a sense of personal relation or emotion.
Since my purpose here is to generate interest in my work, I hope
I will be forgiven for quoting briefly from three favorable responses to
my smaller paintings:
An art reviewer:
"...paints with an energy that persuades us to look at the
familiar and everyday with renewed appreciation."
An expressionistic abstract
painter and art teacher: "beautiful
A friend and critic:
"...I find that the power of his work comes from its ability
to evoke loss and hope collectively--the one incapable of surviving
without the other. There is
a purposeful, thoughtful dialogue at work in all of Jim's pieces,
elegies to time, distance, memory."
Born: New York City, 1960.
Current Residence: Rochester,
I have been a practicing artist
for most of my life. I
exhibit regularly, mainly in upstate New York and New England.
Over the years I have received
several awards for my art,
including the Ames Award, from Dartmouth College, for creative
achievement; a New York Foundation for the Arts project grant for
paintings interpreting urban landscape in Rochester, NY; and a
Saltonstall Foundation painting grant.
My work has found its way into many private collections across
the US, in Canada, and in Europe.
Education: B.A., Visual Studies,
Religion, Dartmouth College, 1982;
M.F.A., Painting, University of Michigan, 1985; also... B.S.,
Environmental Science/Water Resources, SUNY Brockport, 1995
natural history, musical composition, writing (I have published
poems, essays and an article explaining the technique of painting on
If you have any questions,
comments or think you might like to be a host, please contact me at: email@example.com
57 South Main Street, Pittsford,
SALES AND COMMISSIONS
This project’s reliance on “gift-exchange”--art for
hospitality--has been a welcome, enriching and instructive change from
conventional economic arrangements.
I have not, however, escaped the need to earn a living.
If you are interested in purchasing artwork or commissioning
a landscape painting (or set of studies), please contact me at the above
e-mail or conventional mailing address.
Paintings done on tour, IAP greeting cards and other
reproductions based on the tour art will be available for purchase
beginning January, 2001.
images by jhmott shown:
Barn in Fishers, oil on prepared paper 1999, 7" X 10"
Flowerbox, Bethel (detail), oil on panel 1999, 7" X
Railroad Bend, Summer, oil on prepared paper 1994, 9" X 12"
Portrait photo by Andy Smith ©
Work boots photo by Kate Rooney © 1999