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Jon Griffin Donlon

Jon Griffin Donlon

About Artist

Basic Information

  • Artist Statement

    CONTACT: Jon Griffin Donlon
    242-B Keyser Avenue # 126
    Natchitoches, LA 7145
    318- 663-3964

    My Ad Hoc Gardens of Japan both extends and breaks with the tradition of recording images of the exotic other as does, I hope, my Others InSite suite of images. I suppose I have the conceit that at this point I’ve developed enough of an individual perspective in my drawing and photography that at least a little particular signature emerges.
    I spent almost a decade living and traveling in Asia, primarily Japan, strolling the lanes of Kamakura, wandering about Kyoto, rubbernecking in Nagano, walking the streets of Tokyo, happily capturing the images I loved of a setting which moved my soul. During this time I captured an enormous number of iterations of these vernacular Ad Hoc Gardens. Now I have selected a suite of images to print and display, as Hoc Gardens of Japan. My Others InSite in many ways represents new territory. With the exception of occasional figure work, I’ve has almost never included human beings in his photography (though most of my drawings are traditional nudes) – except of course in photojournalism. Although captured at the site of touristic enterprise, these photographs are expressly not tourism pictures. I’ve struggled to display, to some reasonable degree, the backstage of the human theatre. Others InSite, my newest suite of images, following fast on his Ad Hoc Gardens of Japan, closely embraces a particular theme of activity.
    Obviously, my work, pretty much throughout my career, has followed the contour of traditional fine art. I’ve more sought to find an individual voice than invent new territory though I hope that I have succeeded in marking the familiar landscape of design, figure, and form with my particular vision.

    Typical, perhaps, of photographers of my generation my “way of seeing” exhibits a telling reflection of the f. 64 camp, with its emphasis on choice, clarity, and finish, what has been called a “ . . .. Modernist aesthetic that was based on precisely exposed images of natural forms and found objects.” I only very rarely use my technically precise 4 X 5 camera now, phasing almost entirely into contemporary digital technology. However, I believe that experience “under the drape” was good training for being thoughtful and reflective about composition. On occasion, I still show this early work, most of which was shot around South Louisiana.
    I was strongly influenced by the so-called “street photography” ethic extending from Henri Cartier-Bresson, to such artists as Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander and/or Wolfgang Tillman’s and Martin Parr which I see as the logical extension of the flaneur, an observer of the streets who was often a “traditional” artist or writer. I see special agency in selecting and arresting a unique moment and rendering it in time, either as an image or in text.
    For example, my recent set of images Ad Hoc Gardens of Japan often show wonderfully informal appropriations of marginal space. Some of these examples of “container gardens” are obviously fully developed “landscaping” efforts, designed to bring plants into a peopled space. Others involve utterly “ad hoc” use of found containers populating otherwise fallow edges and borders.
    Classical Japanese garden styles devolved from Chinese forms. The general aesthetics of Japanese rock or Zen gardens (often called meditation gardens) and of roji, which are simple, rustic gardens with teahouses. Traveling a variety of routes, these have become reasonably familiar in the west. Indeed, as one online encyclopedia put it, “since the end of the 19th century, Japanese gardens have . . . been adapted to Western settings.” There is a well-established tradition of both exporting these formal garden designs to the west and recording beautiful images of traditional Japanese gardens in etching, paintings, and large format photography.
    During my lifetime as an artist, consultant, educator, and writer, I’ve lived and worked in Africa, Asia, Europe, France, the Near East, the Mediterranean, and the United States, though my Asian experience is obviously a high point. I continue to consult, draw, paint, do photography, and write but this Ad Hoc Garden Project was a primary concern for some time. My most recent photography is a large group of images supported by academic work in tourism, Others InSite. Meanwhile, I’ve been investigating transitioning sketchbooks to paintings. And, I’m evolving the size of my paintings, which were previously quite large, to a more domestic scale.
    The artist and his business, intellectual, and life partner, Dr. Jocelyn Hazelwood Donlon, continue to be avid travelers. For more information:
  • Resume

    (C) 2019 Jon G. Donlon
    Visual Arts Resume: Jon G. Donlon
    CONTACT: (318) 663-3964

    Educational Background:
    Ph.D.: 1995, University of Illinois, Social Science.
    Non-degree MA work fine arts: 1985-1986 University of Illinois
    BA: painting/photography, 1975 University of Southwest Louisiana

    Representative Arts Activity:

    2019 – Others InSite (20 color photographs) The Dean’s Gallery, Fletcher Hall, Ull, Lafayette, LA

    2017 – Ad Hoc Gardens (30 color photographs) Louisiana School Gallery, Natchitoches; Art Co-Op, Lafayette.

    2015 – 2010: Writes and illustrates Bayou Country Bloodsport – The Culture of Cockfighting in Southern Louisiana (MacFarland & Company, Publishers). Reemphasis on photography. Show of drawings, Tokyo.

    2012- 2009: Sketchbook work continues – pencil, graphite, ink, and watercolor wash.

    2008 - Ad hoc Japanese garden project website; shows of drawings in Baton Rouge (group show, Gallery N), landscape photography in Asia, Europe; continue with multi-media drawing. Attention is directed to book-length projects.

    2007-2006: Journalizing extends to blogging - - emphasis on multimedia drawing. Text and images of Tibet, Japan, and Asia in general – emphasis on phenomenon of cultural diffusion and Tibetan Diaspora. Photo comparison/contrast of formal and ad hoc Japanese gardens.

    2005: Illustrations for children’s book proposals. Landscape on board. Large paintings (9 X 16 ft. and larger, festooned with Dacron line, fittings, and clips) continue; submission [with colleague Dr. Jay Jani, engineer] 1% for the Arts, Capital Park Project [rejected]. Begin drawings/print series en suite w/essays for publication. Begin project. Transition audio from analogue to digital. Journal display, “Backyard Gallery,” Spanish Town Centennial, Baton Rouge.

    2000 – 2004: Photography exhibits, Lafayette, at UL-L Gallery (2000), and Baton Rouge, at Goodwood Library (2000). Photography to illustrate articles and text, regional, national, and international publications; painting/drawing journalising, for emphasis on cultural/heritage elements. Discussion begins for images in book format. Speaker, Int’l Scholar’s Honour Society, based on work in Africa w/image support, etc. Activity in painting, drawing and traditional media as well as activity in electronic “generational” and digital means and modes. Gumbo [the dog] Fundraiser, Oculus Gallery, Baton Rouge.

    1996-2000: Activity Includes: Live/travel/photography in Africa, Eastern Mediterranean (large mural done on Northern Cyprus); interview in PAN magazine, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus; interview in The Vermilion, UL; photography exhibit, with poetry reading, at Caliban’s books, Baton Rouge (1998); text/image, cultural-heritage emphasis.

    1987-1995 Activity Includes: Photography exhibits - University of Illinois Student Union Photo Gallery; Placed in the National Tourism Week Photo Contest sponsored by the Champaign-Urbana Convention & Visitors Bureau (1988); more insight into photography as anthropology, increase in critical/cultural publications, journalizing, and writing. Occasional publication or exhibit of images.

    1986: One-year non-degree photography graduate work; continued 4x5 landscape, multi-media; optical devices.

    1985: Significant Activity Includes: Two photography exhibits in France (Le Mans & Auxerre), French radio interview, regional/local shows US; occasional minor awards; photo-journalism continues; night image theme continues.

    1983: Representative Exhibits: Lafayette, Art Center for Southwest Louisiana, First National Bank, Lafayette City Hall, Grand Coteau Studio, Antlers, La Maison du Quebec; Zigler Museum, Jennings; Contemporary Arts Center, N/O; some video work, large format landscape; continued work on color night shots.

    1981: Representative Exhibits: Louisiana Photography Salon, Washington D.C.; Art Center for SW LA; N/O Contemporary Art Center

    1980: Representative Exhibit: Guaranty Bank, Lafayette

    1979: Representative Activity/exhibit: Placed in Nikon-Nutshell Contest, image in The Southwestern Review

    1978: Representative Activity: Degree USL [listed, Who’s Who in American Universities] - senior show, series of photography shows including USL, Loyola, Louisiana State University, etc.; cash prize, Deep South Writer’s and Photographer’s Convention.

    1975-1976: Representative Activity: Placed two years in Red Bean Open; Jr./Sr Art Show (USL); wrote and performed street theatre: “Relive 1969” (multi-media), “Lenny Bruce Day,” etc. Night shots become a theme.

    Example Popular Press Publications with Photo Illustrations:
    • "Camel Wrestling,” ”Cockfighting,” “Stripper Fashion,” Bizarre Magazine , London
    • “Letter From London: Here's Looking at You," "Cutters," Southern Style Magazine, Zimbabwe
    • "Livingstone's Kolabeng," “Making the Most of Mokoloti Game Reserve," "Enjoying Zimbabwe's Bulawayo," "Get Started Right in Birding," Air Botswana's Marung, Gaborone, Botswana
    • "Belgian Lace Making at Its Best," International Living Magazine
    • "Bicycling in the Crescent City," Cycling Weekly, Cheam, Surrey, England
    • "Biking Faulkner's Oxford," Bike Report Magazine
    • "Slow Boating in France," Transitions Abroad Magazine
    • "The How of Meow-Mau," I Love Cats Magazine

    Example Academic Venues:
    • Cultural Analysis: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Folklore and Popular Culture
    • Human Ecology: An Encyclopedia of Children, Families, Communities, and Environments
    • Journal of Leisure Sciences
    • Anatolia: An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research
    • Hospitality & Tourism, 3rd edition
    • Popular Culture Review
    • St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture
    • Physical Education and Sports in Africa
    • Sex Tourism and Prostitution: Aspects of Leisure, Recreation, and Work
    • Gaming Law Review
    • Journal of American Folklore
    • Encyclopedia of Worl


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