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FSU Art Alum, Jack Reilly, Interviewed in Artweek.L.A

Published March 12, 2012

Jack Reiily ImageAfter receiving his MFA in 1978 from Florida State University, Jack Reilly moved to Los Angeles. In 1979 the Molly Barnes Gallery debuted his abstract paintings in a one-person Los Angeles exhibition and by the 1980s his work was exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States. Articles and reviews on Reilly’s work are published in periodicals such as Arts Magazine, Artweek, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, New York Artworld, and books including Inside the L.A. Artist, and American Art Now. Reilly is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. His work is included in major public and private collections internationally, including the Steve Martin Collection and the Fredrick Weisman Foundation. He has executed major public site-specific art commissions for the County of San Diego, and American Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport. In addition to his longstanding career as an artist, Reilly is Art Department Chair and Professor of Art at California State University Channel Islands.

Did you draw when you were a kid/what age did you start?

I wasn’t one of those kindergarten art prodigies. Daydreaming was my particular specialty. In fact, art in the formal sense did not surface in my life until my late teen years when I began painting surfboards. That sparked my interest in traditional painting, which eventually led to studying art in college and ultimately grad school and finally into abstract painting.

What has been your biggest sacrifice for art?

In order to have a shot at a career in art, I knew that I would have to move to the big city. I grew up part of my life in New York and mainly in Florida. When it was time to go, I figured if you put Florida and New York together in a blender, you end up with Los Angeles. So, a couple months after grad school, in a $200 car – with $300 in my pocket, I left all my friends and family behind and moved out to L.A.  34 years later, I think it was a good move. The real sacrifice is all the years I spent away from my family as my father has since died and my mother has grown very old. Time is one thing you can never get back.

What artists that aren’t dead, influence you?

I have always been most fond of and influenced by both minimalists and lyrical abstractionists, specifically Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Ron Davis and British artist Trevor Bell who I studied with in college. All of these artists work with shaped structures and abstraction.

What artists that aren’t dead, really bug you?

All lazy posers who call themselves artists and are more interested in playing the game, making the scene and trying to get famous quick. They should be more interested in doing the work and coming up with something interesting and original.

What do you listen to while you work?

Rock n’ Roll, 1955-present, played very loud!

What are you working on now?

I call my current series “The Basic Object.” These are shaped, flat paintings that appear to be thick, three-dimensional slabs, with the surface divided into linear strips and buried in thousands of brushstrokes of rich metallic colors.

What was the last show you saw?

Greetings from L.A. Artists and Publics 1950-1980 at the Getty Center. That was a most excellent show as part of the Pacific Standard Time initiative. And needless to say, I’m also pleased to be included in P.S.T. with my recent show at Bleicher Gallery, L.A.  

What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?

Nova Color!!! Or is it actually my stereo?

What is it that is spurring ideas for your work these days?

Art making is an evolutionary process. One painting leads to the next and to the next and so on. Like an ant moving grains of sand around to build the anthill, it’s just one of those things I do. It’s a job that is never done.

Do you collect anything?

I have a nice collection of paintings by young, emerging artists, including work by Nicholas Capaldi, Nela Dunaway and David Schonhoff.

What are you reading right now?

DOC by Mary Dora Russell. It’s a fictional story of Doc Holiday and his personal journey from his life as an eastern dentist to that of a notorious gambler and gunfighter in the old west.

What do you like to do when you aren’t in the studio?

I’ve been surfing 46 years and still get out there (short board) a few days a week. I’m also in a garage band “The Art Rockers” where I play rhythm tenor guitar, ukulele and write rock songs as well.

What’s your favorite post-gallery meet up or restaurant?

That’s easy! Ye Olde King’s Head in Santa Monica.

Reilly’s recent solo show was at Bleicher Gallery.