Art of Aging: "Let's Connect" project

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Mural Arts Studio at the Barnes is a unique place to view art and to interact with the artist, thanks to the 'Let's Connect' project.

We meet the current artist-in-residence in this week's Art of Aging.

Growing up in South Philadelphia, Jonathan Pinkett remembers it being difficult to contain his creativity as a child.

"My father told me to stop drawing on the walls of my bedroom. And my mother defied my father and bought me a drawing pad," he said.

Pinkett, a lifelong artist, has worked out of his Manayunk studio for 23 years.

There he paints portraits using models.

"This piece was painted from life. It's a friend of mine named Kharee, so it starts off as a drawing and then I transfer the drawing, and then I do the modeling and the painting," said Pinkett.

Pinkett entered the painting in the 'Let's Connect' project, which challenged artists to create a new work of art inspired by a piece in the Barnes collection.

"And I was just delighted to find something, technique wise, that I could relate to a painting from the Dutch Golden Age by Frans Hals. I wanted it to be more contemporary so I wanted to use an African-American," added Pinkett.

The painting won him a three-month residency at the Mural Arts Studio at the Barnes.

"I was extremely happy," he said.

The goal of the project was to engage the local art community.

Jane Golden, Executive Director, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program said, "We want Philadelphia to be a place where artists stay, not move away."

Pinkett uses oil paint and an indirect technique where he adds layers to create a fused image.

"So that the colors interact, it gives you a nice glowing rich color effect," said Pinkett.

There's a reason Pinkett prefers to work with models when painting.

"There's a certain lack of light identity in a photograph that you can only get from life, it makes it look nice and organic," said Pinkett.

Editing, he says, is key to a realistic portrait.

"And I have to pick and choose what's important to get the whole thing to congeal together, said Pinkett.

Pinkett is the program's fourth artist in residence.

"All the artists are very different in their approach, but they all spoke to the public which is really exciting," said Kathleen Greene, Curator of Public Programs, The Barnes Foundation.

His work is on view there through June 30, and he's hosting open studio hours from noon to 2 p.m. on May 5th and June 2nd.
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