Artist Interview: Jason Roth – Sculptor
Just because I live in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t mean that their aren’t some very interesting people around. Jason Roth is one of many local artists in what is a burgeoning creative community. I took the time to sit with Mr. Roth and discuss his work, his perspective, and the place we both live. (We talk about people in this interview that most of my visitors know, given that I know most of my traffic comes from people who know me personally. If you don’t know these people, well, your missing out.)
What brought you to Gilbertsville?
My home in Cicero was collecting so many sculptures, kind of piling up in the yard, my ever supportive parents pleaded: “you’ve got to get rid of these.” My best friend was present, Katie [Fisher] collaborated too, and they said “why don’t you put them on Craigslist?” Yeah, right! Let’s put these academic steel sculptures on Craigslist. Well, Jonathan Dokuchitz and Michael Arnold bought two pieces, after I got ridiculous offers, they were the only ones that bid on my price. Then I brought them to Gilbertsville, and they invited Barry Skolnick to come and see them. I was just a junior in college (2009ish), in Plattsburgh, I was just starting out. They pretty much bought my very first welding pieces. Barry offered to help set up shop here in Gilbertsville because he saw something in me. He is my greatest contributor, commissioning very ambitious work.
What do you think of the area?
I love Gilbertsville. The peace and quiet, all the people, how I can do my own thing and nobody gets in my way. Its really a dream come true, and I’m just trying to work as hard as I can to stay here. I love our circle of friends that we’ve made. When I moved here I didn’t know anybody, then everyone kind of popped up out of no where, and even better, fed me delicious food, I have learned quite a bit about gardening and cooking. It seems like you have to live here for a year or so before you get swallowed into the community. Everybody is really welcoming, and I love all the space. Its great. I really can’t complain about anything.
Whats the best thing about living here?
When you live in a small community like this, help is always right around the corner, and I feel like its got to be the people. Of course there’s the given that the weather is awesome, the scenery and the mountains that you see everyday, but its really just the mentality and the calibre of the people around here. Everyone from hard working farmers to PhD’s, and you’ll meet the whole spectrum one night at The Empire House. You could get that other places, but its just got to be the people, that’s my favorite part. Everybody helps out. That’s kind of refreshing.
How would you describe your work?
My work is all about capturing quick little spurts of energy in time, very sporadic movements, abstracts gestures, frozen in space. It kind of goes back to the abstract expressionist days, and I find that to be a timeless voice in the art world. And with my sculptures I make this kind of crazy free-form drawing, and then you approach it and you see the rust and the welds, and holy cow, this took forever, this is really heavy, how did this happen? The force causes you to empathize with the form, because there might be one spot that’s welded and cantilevered way out, so what looks like a quick little textural thing almost looks like a feat of architectural engineering, and I’d like to have that on all scales. I can stretch that voice from then to now, and make it my own. So it involves a lot of planning, experimentation, and just a lot of catching up on craftsmanship ideas. I could go on and on but, ultimately, I think my work is just about the quick, frozen in a solid, stable form, allowing a deeper analysis to the objects being.
What medium would you like to work in that you’ve yet to try?
Oh, glass! For sure. I would love to blow glass, and figure out how to work with glass. I played with it once, and the malleability of it was very captivating, and I like the versatility of it, yet its very fragile, and heavy at times. I know very little about it, and I feel like its a whole other avenue, because I really love working with materials that are cold, hot, and then cold again. I think the material is so impressive in its finding, its creation, and its resolution. I love that about ceramics, I love that about steel, and I really love that about glass, but I never had the opportunity to really play around with it.
Do you think that’s something this shop will support?
In the future, maybe. Yeah, definitely in the future, the sky is the limit so far as this place goes. If there is a big enough outcry for it, then sure, why not? Its just all about pushing ideas. Anything is possible really. Even you and I talked about setting up a little foundry. That’s something I’d like to do just so we could pour various alloys. And get a kiln. With a kiln we could do glass and ceramics. Yup. Cold, hot, cold!
There’s something about applying energy to the material.
Right, like a ton of it too!
If you could say one thing the whole world could hear, what would it be?
Stop watching television, and use your gadgets for what they are meant for, and learn about the world, to enlighten yourself and everyone around you. Please. Thanks.
I get the sense you’re kind of a futurist,
As of recently, the past 2 or 3 years, ever since my dad passed. He used to talk about this stuff all the time, and then when you lose somebody; missing is the conversation you always took for granted. And you’re like,” wait a minute,”… I found myself organically turning into him. I wasn’t even conscious of it. He looked at a lot of war stuff. I don’t like the war stuff. He spoke of the planets and the universe like it were out our back door, and I agree. I’m all about the free energy advancements that I hope will happen. That’s a recent development in my life for sure. Whenever I’m online all I look at is futurism. It is slowly seeping into my work and I am embracing the new ideas.
Is there anything else you want to mention?
I think Gilbertsville is going to be hopping pretty soon, between what’s happening here at the old school, and Marcus Filagrin setting up a new gallery in town. We’ll have 3 art galleries, including Dionysis! I just want people to know that there people our age busting their humps in town, and I guarantee in 3 to 5 years you’re going to see some pretty ambitious things popping up. Whether they succeed or fail is another story. I think people will try something, so that’s good!
Jason will be featured along side Margi Weir at the Community Arts Network of Oneonta starting November 6th.
Here is a small assortment of Jason’s work. You can see more by visiting his website at: http://www.jayrothsculpture.com/