Jack Spencer’s many roads…
I met Jack Spencer recently in the pages of the current (June 2012) issue of B&W/COLOR. Who isn’t always hoping that the turn of a page will reveal a serendipitous visual whammy? Although the magazine issue includes much worthy work, Jack Spencer’s images surpass it all. (That said, I also feel strongly about Toronto artist Carol Rooney‘s exceptional Taylor Creek Park series featured in the same issue.)
Spencer readily admits his beginnings:“Being raised in the segregated South and dirt poor to boot, I view the world through that prism.” (Jack Spencer: This Land, Mark Edward Harris, B&W/COLOR, June 2012). He says he’s learned to be grateful for this base – it has compelled him to follow some challenging roads resulting in stellar bodies of work. A full time fine art photographer for the last 17 years, Spencer features 6 completely different series on his website, but the same hand is evident throughout them all.
While the other series’ images create a finished, cohesive body of work, I find some of the images in the “This Land” series (resulting from a 9,000 mile trip around the west and the series also featured in the magazine article) distracting because they are not worked over the same, or the subject matter seems entirely out of place. The horses leave me underwhelmed and I’d rather see the same pictures without them. I’d like to see the works in this series re-grouped into more meaningful and persuasive sectors – the impact would be greater.
Spencer’s photographs are anything but a straightforward process – he beats on them when inspired to do so – including stains, scratches and tears. Some are toned or glazed with a variety of media.
It’s always interesting to see a fine artist who started in the arts with music rather than art itself. Spencer is one such creator and I don’t think I’d be out of place to say it’s a sensitivity that contributes heavily to the poetry of his work. And he’s not afraid to take risks, and more risks. He is quoted in B&W/COLOR as saying, “Photography really is about how one deals with failure. I still fail much more often than I succeed. But failure is an integral part of success.”
Spencer’s work has reached a rare pinnacle of a highly realized artistic vision, but I have a feeling he’s far from finished. I couldn’t be more eager to see what’s next.
There is a limited edition book of Spencer’s works available at 21st Editions.