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I DO Know Jack!

Kenneth Hershenson's avatar Kenneth Hershenson

The jack. A small, shiny metal object. A toy to stack, to spin, to quickly snatch up before the red rubber ball bounces a second time. A large part of our childhood, no matter what the culture, no matter when the millennium. The Greek philosopher Plato credited the Egyptians with the invention of the game. Study Pieter Brueghel’s 1560 painting Children's Games and you will find children huddling close together playing jacks. Whether made of stone, wood, bone, or metal, jacks have been small in size but enormous in the fabric of children’s lives for thousands of years. •••••• Ever since my youth, I have been enthralled with the magic of turning a two-dimensional surface into a virtual three-dimensional object, using just brush, paint and canvas. The trompe l’oeil painters of centuries past have always been an inspiration. I enjoy capturing humor, whimsy, and a little bit of magic. This exploration uses the ubiquitous children’s toy chrome jack placed in unusual settings and scales coupled with the humor of titling each painting with a play on words. The complex geometric design of the modern metal jack with its sleek and reflective surfaces called to my imagination and childhood memories. It also provides a wonderful challenge to portray the mysterious world of chrome in such a complex shape. I choose to create stark and simple images that exemplify what a child might see... the complex distilled down to basic truths. •••••• When exploring polished chrome, there is a natural juxtaposition of the real world seen as an abstract image reflected into the representational. Those reflections bring the surrounding reality into the field of vision…a mystery universe that lives outside of the edges of the canvas, a realm that exposes what existed in the artist’s world that, in a simple landscape or still life, the viewer would never see. This existential dynamic, and the fact that I am painting abstract and realism in the same painting, makes the process that much more intriguing to me. •••••• At ArtPrize 7 I entered the first five paintings in my series “I DO Know Jack!” at DeVos Place Convention Center. I was overwhelmed at the response! The five initial paintings of the series finished in the Top 25 in the Public Vote in the 2D category. After taking a year off, and after hearing people ask me to continue showing the ongoing project, I decided to enter the second five paintings at ArtPrize 9. The existing ten paintings are only the start of my ongoing project that will comprise 36 different paintings when it is completed.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 2-D
  • Depth: 2 inches
  • Medium: Acrylic
  • Width: 25 feet
  • Year created: 2017
  • Height: 36 inches