Jack Walls is a remarkable artist, poet and writer, not limited by adherence to any medium. Although he considers himself mostly a writer, his drawings and sketches are done with equal aplomb, not to mention his collaged works which are done with a dexterity that boggles the mind particularly when contrasted with some of his drawing series which almost seem to have the energy of automatic drawings. He is a multi-disciplinarian, who’s small and compressed works are composed to scale, depending on the size of his work area, or how small his drawing board.

Recently, Walls has embarked on a series of paintings called HEADS. This was proceeded by an earlier series of paintings titled FLOWERS. Walls’ first series was a group of collages, ADA. Jack explains,”These started out quite accidentally, I’d left New York City in August of 2003 and vagabonded around, I stayed for a brief period in Detroit, I ended up in a small village outside of Cooperstown, NY. Here was where I began to make the ADA collages, these were executed through 2006-2008, these collages became hugely successful. After that I wrote the Ebony Prick of the White Rose’s Thorn, that was my A Season in Hell, which was also an exhibition of my cursive handwritings done in water color on arches paper, that too was well received. What proceeded the FLOWER and HEAD paintings was a series I did called “Mona Lisa” collage paintings, because I gradually wanted to move towards painting, eventually I did”.

A longtime veteran of the downtown art scene, in this world, his vision and scope has influenced a vast array of some of the younger artists that habitate the edges of the art world, a position from which a few have managed to successfully launch into careers. His iconic status and relevance continues to grow with the times. He is an ‘inside outsider’, his inside outsider status is no accident, the slick machinations, the ins and outs of the art and fashion worlds leave little to be desired by Mr. Walls. He prefers to go his own way. Working on the fringes of the scene, thereby, becoming a scene of sorts. He lives mostly upstate NY, his frequent forays into the city seem to be highly anticipated by a coterie of creative cronies that party with Walls, long, hard, and late into night, Mr. Walls refers to this as ‘recharging’, “It’s a release, I need to get it out of my system, I have to go and hang-out for a few nights down in the city sometimes, just to see what happens”.

The details of his working pattern, habits and disciplines, and the accumulative effects of Jack’s efforts are sublime, but also jarring in their well thought out simplicity. Walls has absorbed all that he has observed over his lifetime, he retains the lessons learned from his influences. “I studied the way Robert (Mapplethorpe) drew, a lot of people don’t know that Robert drew and sketched a lot, a whole lot. I use to watch him draw, my style was different back then, I was in my early twenties, I was still learning.” Walls continues, “Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Sam Wagstaff, continue to be strong spiritual sources of inspiration to me. Because of the lack of a proper studio space I work small” Walls explains. “I won’t let that stop me from doing what needs to be done, that won’t stop me from making art.” Walls deals in reoccurring themes, that’s intentional he says. “I like the idea of doing somethings over and over, why not? If it’s a good idea once, it’s a good idea twice, Walls laughs, ‘because I think that no matter how hard you try, you can’t do the same thing the same way twice, unless you’re in a band, if you did a song differently every time people would lose it. It’s hard to be an original when it comes to art, to stand out. I do a lot of things in a series, that’s partly because I believe in cohesion, the overall effect, the story. My style narrative is particularly unique, I do believe the further you try to distance yourself from whatever may be troubling you, in art, or what you may not want to acknowledge, in art, is the thing that should be addressed first and foremost, don’t resist any creative impulses, I don’t know exactly what that means, but it must mean something to someone.” Walls adds, “I find that the closer you try to get to something the further away you get and vice versa.”

“My relationship to the art world? It’s peculiar, truthfully, I don’t believe in the art world, it’s an antiquated system, anyone can open an art gallery, look around. The internet blew the whole thing wide open, now what it all boils down to is just how talented and clever you are online, that’s all. That’s not to say you won’t need the physical gallery space to showcase your product, it’ll just be done Pop-Up style, it’s Pop Art all over again.”

~Mary Nittolo