Jim Mott amazes me with his ability to capture a scene on a small scale in a rather short period of time like maybe an hour. He paints in oil on cardboard and the finished piece is consistently true to the color in front of him. Nothing in his finished image is overworked yet they are perfectly readable. His paintings remain painterly and fun to look at. But Jim is looking for something else. He wants to make a connection with his work.
He gave a talk, “The Art of Connection: 20 Years of Socially-Engaged Art Projects,” at The Yards at the Public Market and passed a short stack of his paintings around the room as he showed slides. He grew up wanting to be a local artist but found it was impossible to make any money. And furthermore, nobody seemed to really care. He became disgruntled.
In 2000 he placed a small ad in the New Yorker offering to paint pictures at strangers’ homes in exchange for hospitality. He arranged tours that took him across the country and back several times. He estimates he has been to 200 homes and each time the homeowner chose one the paintings he did at their place to keep for themselves. Jim brought the rest home. His presentation contained a bar chart that showed how much more productive he was on the road compared to staying at home. It was dramatic.
Last year he came up with a Landscape Lottery project where locations were chosen by random GPS corordinates. It took him to some strange places like the middle of a parking lot where he found he had to work harder to make a good painting and they were often some of his best.
He told us he is looking for new ideas for his next project so he has us thinking.