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Reviewing Jason Roskey

Jason Roskey

Jason Roskey- Bastion, 2004
oil on board, 24 x 48 inches
J R Compton photo

Story by J R Compton

Jason Roskey responded in the first day the original Submit Your Work for Review in DallasArtsRevue story appeared on the cover. He'd been reading DARts for a couple years and was excited about the possibility.

I saw something indefinable in his work that I liked and thought had potential — even in the small, not quite focused, not exactly right colors images he sent that day.

I knew I could not, in good conscience, dismiss his work outright, although I'd already sent a curt, "No thank you," to another artist who'd sent some very cartoony art that same day.

Sometimes it's not so much that I don't like the work. It's more that I wouldn't know where to begin. If art doesn't spark my imagination, I won't have anything to say about it, and I can't write anything. I just don't have the words.

I was put off my the dribbles of paint around Jason's paintings but intrigued by the incorporation of mountains (reality) into his oddly juxtaposed rectangles of abstraction, although I thought they were too dark (as in depressed).

I knew I had to see the work in person to make any sense of them, and I thought it might just be worth the while, so we set up an appointment. I met him and saw his work yesterday (as I write this), so the experience is fresh.


Jason Roskey   Jason Roskey 

Jason Roskey - Deconstructivist's Point of View, 2003 - 48 x 60 inches - Acrylic and charcoal on canvas and Mountain Passerby Retrospective No. 2, 2003 - 24 x 48 inches - acrylic and charcoal on canvas

Jason sent these images and the one below. I've attempted (with varying degrees of success) to correct the colors and now realize I should have photographed them when I had the chance. But even these (especially the one below) rather poor quality images were enough to spark my imagination.


Jason told me he had no formal training in art, and I saw that he'd been working flat on his dining room table — with few tools. You couldn't really call it a studio, more like a smallish workspace atop a handy table.

As you can see from Jason's most recent painting, shown on top of this page, however, he's making noticeable changes. The small bits of reality are still present. Note what he calls "architectural elements" at the bottom, and what could be a rocky bit of mountain on the bottom left. But they're more subtle.

The textures are more varied and painterly. The colors and textures are more intense and show more depth. The paint, not so much the image, has taken over.

Looking at my photo (and wishing I'd shot more), I am remembering more of what I told Jason. I liked the "totally out of place" bits of bright white that arc across the light and dark sides, nearly uniting them.

I also liked the spots of light blue that partially mirror the white specks, although I couldn't tell why I liked them or why they were there, except they seemed to belong there on what reminds me of a cracked and smeared exterior wall of an old building.

I couldn't determine what the vignette on the right was, but I luxuriated in the painterly piles of paint and the light on dark depth it lends. I even liked that rectangle's hard edge, so different from the suffuse transitions on the earlier pieces above.

When I asked why those seemed so dark and moody compared with this new work, Jason said those were winter paintings, and this is summer, which explains a lot, I suppose.

Now I wish I'd recorded my visit. It's difficult to remember what all we spoke about, since our conversation was essentially nonlinear. I know much of what I said barely comprised sentences, let alone coherent ideas or paragraphs. Mostly I just said whatever entered my mind while I watched his work.

I was struggling more to have it make sense visually than to make a good story.


Jason Roskey

Jason Roskey - Wasteland, 2003
36 x 24 inches
Acrylic and charcoal on canvas


It was much more a conversation sparked by some paintings than an interview, though it seemed to serve both our purposes.

I'm so glad I saw enough in the images he sent to see him and his work up close and in person. Jason showed two pieces at last summers 500X Open Show. I'm sure I'll be seeing more.



PostScript 2008: Now Jason is about to have his first solo show in Manhattan, with work very different from these first, struggling paintings, he wants DallasArtsRevue to remove this page. I don't think so. But I'd like to hear from other DallasArtsRevue readers. I think this is history, and I have no control over what comes up first in Internet searches. What do you think?

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