Author Topic: Jon Reich, Jacksonville's Brilliant and Tragic Artist.  (Read 8104 times)


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Jon Reich, Jacksonville's Brilliant and Tragic Artist.
« on: May 26, 2008, 05:01:27 PM »

Jon Reich was as close as it has ever come to being a bona fide Art Celebrity in Jacksonville.

I will never forget the entourage, the crowds, the dazzling smile, or the radiant sequined jackets. 

At one point his art was everywhere stylish, Restaurants, Nightclubs, the homes of very chic experimental people.

I was 18 when i met him, before he moved away from Jacksonville to Chicago.

In a city that takes no pride for its talented, famous, or intriguing offspring, Jon is a cultural treasure that we should all appreciate.  There used to be a full online gallery of his work, but the image above (which goes with the story below) is all I presently have of him.
'Angels in Art'

In the window of a small shop in Chicago, Ross Walker saw a pencil drawing that took his mind off what he was doing and where he was going.

Next to the realist image of a torso was a tiny sign inviting anyone curious to know more to come inside. As it turned out, Jon Reich, the artist, worked at the shop to make a little extra money.

Walker and Reich began a conversation that day that sparked a longtime friendship that had art at its center and extended to each of their partners.

Since Reich's 1992 death at age 39 from AIDS, Walker and his partner, Erv Uecker, have maintained a constant, evolving relationship with the work the artist left behind.

A posthumous retrospective of Reich's works will go on display Friday at the Village Church Arts Gallery, 130 E. Juneau Ave., along with the works of artists Robert Uyvari and James Faulkenberg, who also died of HIV/AIDS.

Many of the works for the "Angels in Art" exhibit come from Walker and Uecker's collection, and the couple, who have been together for 50 years, are intimately involved in organizing the show.

The work that Reich is most known for, a series of four nudes called "Transparencies I-IV" that is in the Smithsonian collection, originally was created for a 1980 show in Milwaukee. The artist moved here briefly from Florida before moving permanently to Chicago.

"Stimulated by the ethnic diversity in the Midwest, the home-cooked meals, and the warmth and sharing of my friends, I addressed a self-imposed challenge to draw the human figure," Reich wrote about the series in the monograph, "The Nudes of Jon Reich," published the year before he died.

In an intricate and illusory play of realism, the works show the artist's hand drawing the slope of the neck or the line of a shoulder on what appears to be a sheet of creased paper - the human form recreating the human form, paper drawn upon paper.

Toward the end of his life, Reich's productivity increased and angels became a constant presence in his work. Reich asked his partner Robert to serve as a model for "Angel" and wrote this about the drawing:

"I drew him as the angel he is. The sense of protection and security I feel from him is displayed in this piece. In dark hours, when difficult decisions must be made, I turn to my guardian angel, Robert."
« Last Edit: September 02, 2014, 08:48:54 AM by stephendare »


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Re: Jon Reich, Jacksonville's Brilliant and Tragic Artist.
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2008, 05:30:49 PM »
That's truly a beautiful piece of work and testament to his love and respect for his partner.


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Re: Jon Reich, Jacksonville's Brilliant and Tragic Artist.
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2011, 06:44:41 PM »
I was lucky enough to know Jon while he was in Jacksonville and was overwhelmed by his talent. His was an exceptional artist. I have always had very fond memories of him.


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Re: Jon Reich, Jacksonville's Brilliant and Tragic Artist.
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2018, 11:46:25 AM »
I have one of his earlier drawings I am trying to find more about. My partner knew mutual friends of Jon's while living in Florida  and was given a drawing titled Crocodile Creek but I can't find any info on it. It's signed and numbered.


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Re: Jon Reich, Jacksonville's Brilliant and Tragic Artist.
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2018, 02:29:40 PM »
Am shocked and amused to see one of North Florida's foremost experts on Greek Culture back on MetroJacksonville.  Is there no shame?