Jay Dart - Now Entering Beyawnder
Jay Dart is an artist working primarily in drawing but has recently begun creating installation pieces based on his two-dimensional narrative works. He received a BA from the University of Guelph’s Fine Art programme. His most recent solo exhibitions include Now Entering Beyawnder at Galerie Youn, Montreal (2015); Wanderer of Yawnder (revisited) at Line Gallery, North Bay (2014); Further Over Yawnder at Galerie Youn, Montreal (2013); and The Wanderers at Atelier 688, Toronto (2010). His work has also been shown in Fictionary at Station Gallery, Whitby (2012); Paths at the Canmore Artists’ and Artisans’ Gallery (2011); and recently at Papier 15 (Montreal), Affordable Art Fair (New York), Love Art Fair (Toronto), and The 100 Euro/Dollar Show (Amsterdam/Portland). His first public gallery solo exhibition will take place in the fall of 2016 at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa. In 2013, Jay self-published a limited-edition picture book, titled Wanderer of Yawnder. He is a recipient of grants from the Ontario Arts Council (2012 and 2014). Jay lives and draws in Ashburn, Ontario (aka Elsewheres).
Now Entering Beyawnder
Take a doodle fer a ride or find a mystifying monument to ponder. Step right up, come see fer yerself: we’re now entering Beyawnder. - Jiggs
For the past few years, I have been working on a series of drawings about the wanderers of fictional places known as Yawnder and Elsewheres as a way to represent my own creative process. Each drawing that I produce in this series adds to an evolving narrative about the mystical nature of inspiration, the search for innovative creation, and the dissemination of ideas. I am interested in drawing allegories for these themes as well as for the challenges and opportunities that new technology, such as cloud computing, social networking, and the global community of the Internet, presents to contemporary creators. Furthermore, I use fads that pervade contemporary culture – such as beards, lumberjacks, DIY interior decorating – to aid in exploring how trends and ideas can rise to the forefront of our culture as a result of our increasingly interconnected society.
Antique portraits of fishers, hunters, loggers and those making their way on the frontiers may give rise to many of my pieces. However, as the frontier people of my compositions wander through the horizonless expanse of the blank page, they encounter a whimsical wilderness complete with the Yawnder Lights, Foredad Clouds, Magical Mystery Beards, and Geist Trees. The term geist, defined as the spirit of an individual, is used to describe the colourful swashes in my drawings because they are the spirit of an individual’s ideas.
My first picture book, Wanderer of Yawnder, published in 2013, recounts the first part of this epic story that I continue to draw from. The drawings in this book are remakes of the original pieces that I had previously exhibited while the writing comes from Jiggs, my alter ego and the main character of this evolving narrative. The tale begins when Jiggs discovers the lights in the sky over Yawnder, builds himself a very tall ladder in order to fish for them, finds that they are geists, and is inspired to proclaim his first invention: the Magical Mystery Beard. Soon enough, other wanderers happen upon this source of inspiration and he finds out his beards weren’t so inventive after all. So he must dig deeper to create something truly unique.
I continue to exhibit drawings that impart the next chapter of the story where I attempt to elucidate another stage of the creative process: communication. While I see the experience of inspiration as a private process when the internal digestion of external influences takes place and new ideas are cast, the practice of communicating these ideas involves making those ideas tangible and sharing them with others. Thus, the Wanderer story has begun to involve a new cast of characters who discover Jiggs’ creations and play a part in disseminating them. As these nomadic characters follow Jiggs further over Yawnder, we see them felling the massive timbers that sprang up when he buried his geist beards, and manoeuvre them down the main stream in order to get them to Somewheres. They also haul these geist trees up the mountainsides to reach the giant Foremoms who act as gatekeepers to the most coveted places. Meanwhile, Jiggs finds a ‘port’ to another mysterious world; he has now entered Beyawnder – a place unlike any other, where a doodle can be taken for a ride and concepts become monuments.
As Krieghoff and the Group of 7 ventured into the wilderness of Canada to present landscapes like they’d never been seen before, I purport to offer the findings from the frontiers of the unchartered backwoods of my mind. The journey is both daunting and exhilarating as I confront the most complex to the most basic notions that I have. I also hope that I can connect with other creators who might recognize parts of the maze in my interior landscape and I aim to shed light on the elusive nature of making art in a way that can be grasped by my kids.