Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery through July 15
by Jane R. Snyder
In the midst of my conversation with Jered Sprecher, his three-year-old son woke up in search of a snack. As the painter excused himself to provide one, Jered’s tone moved easily from strictly business to loving parent. Accomplished artist and dad are just two facets of this talented Nebraska native, who is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Tennessee, a winner of multiple fellowships (Chinati, Guggenheim, Irish Museum of Modern Art), and preparing for his January 2017 solo exhibition at Knoxville’s Museum of Art.
Part abstraction, part representation, his paintings reflect contrasts—hard edges or hazy ones, loud colors or tranquil shades, light grids or dark globes, high energy or lazy brushstrokes—you may find yourself wondering exactly what he was thinking. Sprecher likens his work to jazz improvisation.
“I am inspired by a variety of images, including snapshots, children’s drawings, or a painting like Manet’s The Luncheon on the Grass. Rhythm and structure are important to me, but I like to be surprised by them. My process is a conversation, a call and response, between me and the painting. Through the process of painting, I may find a shape or a color that I did not expect. I can either leave it or wipe it away, because I am always chasing after harmony amidst the dissonance.”
What kind of impact does teaching have on Jered’s own creative output? “If my students want to know, ‘Why should I care?’ or ‘Why is this important?’ I have to re-evaluate basic artistic truths about perspective, color, even politics. They always keep me honest.”
You may be surprised to discover he signs his canvases on the back so viewers can appreciate the whole of his content and not be distracted by a single name—as if each work had the feel of many hands.
The painter revealed, “Mine are not the most normal decisions,” but you will applaud them just the same. Whether those decisions are intellectual or straight from his gut, Jered Sprecher raises eclecticism to high art.