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Victoria Chick is the founder of the Cow Trail Art Studio and received a B.A. in Art from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and awarded an M.F.A. in Painting from Kent State University in Ohio. visit her website at www.ArtistVictoriaChick.com
Artist Billy Morrow Jackson
By Victoria Chick, Artist & 19th & 20th Century Print Collector
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Jackson spent a good deal of his life in the Midwest, going to college at Washington University in St. Louis, attending graduate school at The University of Illinois, and then spending 33 years teaching at the University of Illinois at Champaign. He also spent a great deal of time on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts in the company of many artists who resided or spent summers there. He lived in Mexico for two years, an experience that inspired many woodcuts, including the one here.
Jackson had an appreciation for the low, horizontal, Midwest plain broken by vertical lines of tall trees or clusters of buildings intruding into the expanse of sky. His subject matter ranges from Illinois and Martha’s Vineyard landscapes to cityscapes and interiors with figures. In these paintings he has been compared to Edward Hopper in his sense of isolation. He also painted portraits, and a few murals. Jackson was at ease with drawing media, watercolor, oil paint, and printmaking, especially woodcuts. His woodcut designs are bold but, at the same time, have delicate nuances of texture which give his work a distinctly recognizable style.
Billy Morrow Jackson’s three most significant teachers were artists that were all abstractionists. They were Max Beckmann, Abraham Rattner, and Fred Conway. From these men, he gained a sense of organization and structuring the canvas. In his woodcuts, the strong influence of Beckmann’s and Rattner’s German Expressionism can be felt. His early abstraction gradually grew to a preference for realism, a general reactionary movement against abstraction during the late 1960’s and 70’s. Jackson was never a part of the Photo Realist painters, however. His work has a soft, romantic rather than hard edge, factual presence to it.
He and his first wife were divorced after 38 years of marriage. His second wife was
an artist from Maylasia. The two of them traveled extensively exhibiting their work
throughout the United States. Jackson also traveled doing commissions for the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation. These were watercolors of various sites where the land had
been improved through Federal programs.
“Good Year In Mexico” woodcut is available at the Cow Trail Art Studio, please click here.