Jon Strand

Detroiter Jon Strand is an artist in a hurry


Jon Strand has been a full-time working artist for the last 46 years. I’m most noted for my particular use of the technique of pointillism, which I was introduced to in 1966when I was a 4tg year art student/senior in high school.Creating ink paintings with a technique as exacting as this requires patience, integrity, discipline and dedication.In 1977 I read that if you are good at one thing, then you need to be better at it than anyone else, push it further than anyone has. This belief has become my credo/motto, because I knew that was what I'd been doing along.Amazingly, all these years later, I’m still at it, still pushing the boundaries of pointillism.
Through this technique my art tells the story of my life.

5 Era's-of Strand

1966-1976: Introduced to the technique of pointillism (not with oil paint, brush and canvas, but with crow quill pen and black India ink) my senior year/4th year art, Warren High school. Do the first 3 black and white still life’s. By the early 1970’s still life’s gave way to a myriad of subject matters, in many colors. Then the first of what would become a common device for me, my first series; “I Am A Child” (31 pieces). Two very significant pieces, “Honolulu Baby”, and “Big Sur, Burning” started the beginning of my maturing mastery of both pointillism and where I could take it. “Grey Images (5 pieces), “Opus Manhattan” (4 Pieces) and “Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining” (5 pieces) began the pivot to geometric pieces, “Renaissance:Two Views”, “Predecessor to David”. My Mom and Dad’s dining room table was what passed as a studio.1976-1980: Rent my first studio in the Farwell building on Griswold in downtown Detroit to prepare for a four man exhibition at the Ward-Nashe Gallery in New York City I was participating in in May 1977. I finished “Renaissance: Two Views” in Farwell after starting it at home.
What followed: “Prelude a Nuit”, “Provenance, Part One“, “Sustained Applause (Reliquary for S. Dali)”, “Provenance, Part Two”, “Metropolitan Organization”, “Land of Somer (Chapter Obsolescence)”. Then a huge leap forward when I started working with Rapidographs. The geometric’s turned into the first city scapes, “Detroit Dichotomy”, “Consequential Panorama (Transparent Extensions)” and then “Standard/Western/Collapse”, the first piece where the image/subject matter covers the entire piece of paper. By the fall of 1980 I was preparing for my first one man show the following May. Farwell closed and I moved to a three room office suite on the 33rd floor of the Broderick Tower on Grand Circus Park.
1980-1984: Begin doing pieces based on the view from high atop a faded skyscraper.
“Myth: Urban Temples”, “Enigma: Lingering”, “Night View”. The one man at the Gallery Renaissance was sadly completely overshadowed by the deaths of both my parents weeks and days before the opening. After that, the art began to change into something more than individual pieces, each one had a connection to one another. “Silent Towers”, “Prelude a Nuit, Part Two’, would lead up to “Neo-Helicon” officially the first piece in the mammoth series that occupied me from 1984 until 2006, 106 ink paintings and one flash animated film (10:52 minutes). In early 1984 my alter-ego, Jonny Strange made his first appearance in “The Last Five Minutes”, he would go on to appear in pieces throughout the series.
1984-1997: The story of Jonny Strange and his ultimate journey to the land of the gods, Neo-Helicon allowed me to develop not only his story But the exploration of exactly how far I could go with the technique of pointillism. In 1987 I exhibited “Shining City” and “To Dream of Heroes” at the Detroit Institute of Arts in show juried by new DIA curator, Jan van der Marck. The following year I would exhibit the first 18 pieces in the series, “The Secret of Jonny Strange”, along with fellow artists, Ronald Madalinski and Lois Teicher in OMAP IV, “The Plain of Truth” (curated by Jan van der Marck). I was asked to write out the story of Jonny and his heroic tale. The success of that exhibition spurred me to keep pushing both the boundaries of what I was able to accomplish with the technique and where Jonny’s story would go. Jonny’s adventure to find the god, Apollo and the nine Muses. By 1993 I had the Muses manifest as brightly colored clouds in the large piece, “As Above, So Below (O’er my head there’s music in the air), which was acquired by the Founder’s Society of the Detroit Institute of Arts for its permanent collection in early 1994. The following year I, along with 45 other “local” artists participated in the ground breaking “Interventions” exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts. I created a large portrait of the Muse, Calliope as a bright yellow cloud shape in a midnight blue sky and it was installed in the Ancient Greek galleries, surrounded by sculptures o Aphrodite and Apollo. In 1996 I was selected, along with seven other Detroit artists for an exhibition entitled, Gilda Snowden Select Detroit Art”, exhibiting two large portraits of the Muses “Euterpe” and “Thalia” and the nine small portraits of all nine Muses.
Next I would turn my attention to the god, Apollo by depicting him as rays of light in the large piece, “Are You Apollo, which led to yet another pivot/direction for the series to take.
And as rays of light Apollo appeared in numerous pieces including the Penobscot suite (9 pieces). In 1997 I had moved into my Corktown loft and by the early 2000’s the series was beginning to come to an end.
1997-to the present: In 2000 the Interim chair of Wayne State University’s Art Department introduced me to graduate student, Errol Oksuz who took on th responsibility of turning the “Secret of Jonny Strange” into a flash animated short story. First as just a project for Errol to work on, quickly morphed into his becoming my intern for his last semester at WSU. Once he graduated we were working on the film as collaborators. Taking almost two and a half years we ultimately ended with a ten minute In 2007and 52 second long film. I then enlisted the help of dear friend, Judy Adams to compose the score, which she did with tremendous success I might add.
By 2003 we were able to see our efforts on the big screen at the Detroit Institute of Arts Film Theater. !n 2004 the “Secret of Jonny Strange” flash animation opened the Cinema Slam at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater. I finally finished the series in May 2006 with the completion of the final piece, “The Source”. From the middle of 2006 until early 2009 in worked on a manuscript of a book based on my daily journals for Wayne State Press.
(That book has been on hold since 2010when I was diagnosed with acute glaucoma with nerve damage in the left eye). IN 2007 I exhibited twenty five pieces from the Jonny series throughout the three story atrium of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall’s new Max M. Fisher music center and premiered the flash animation in the Music Box auditorium for over 600 attendees, and before the actual screening Judy Adams played the score on a nine foot Steinway concert grand piano To a standing ovation.
In 2008 whilst I-was working on the manuscript it was announced that famous/infamous artist, Andres Serrano would jury a show of Detroit artAt theCenter Gallery at CCS. I didn’t think he wold be interested or impressed with either my use of pointillism or the story of Jonny Strange I decided to make two “joke” pieces that were so far away from what I’m most known for, it was a test to see if something ridiculous would get in. “The Genesis of Invisibility” is an assemblage made out of a Town Club wooden storage box, a primitive clay head, a birds nest Hawthorn branches, Peet moss, fresh water pearls and a peel-off facial. “The Oracle of the Golden Temple” consists os another primitive clay head, a peel-off facial and a small temple made of gold marble (fabricated by Robert LaRose). Both were submitted and the “The Oracleof the Golden Temple” was one of the pieces chosen, much to my surprise. However, once I received the glaucoma diagnosis Iused “The Oracle of the Golden Temple” as the jumping off point for the series that’s occupied since 20009/2010.
Using the Golden Temple as the umbrella title for all the work I’ve been able to produce in the last fourteen years. Most interestingly I’ve been able to continue to collaborate with Bob LaRose as he has fabricated an additional eleven sculpture/constructions Based on my ideas. And fashion designer, Leslie Ann Pilling translated several of my “wave” paintings into Stunning couture In an exhibition at the Galerie Camille along with S. Kay Young who also saw her work turned into wonderful fashions. In 2018 I exhibited 65 pieces from the series at Wayne State University's Community Arts Gallery. The show included a large Fluxxus AIDS installation of 273 peel off facials placed on a wall painted black.
At the moment I”m working on what may be the last three pieces in this series, now numbering close to 125 or more pieces.

Contact Us

Please let us know how we can assist you? Or if your interested in any of the works?

Thank You

and spread the word...

Works of Strand

This is a small sampling of the life works of Jon Strand