Paul LaJeunesse was recently chosen to be the Duluth Art Institute’s first Lincoln Park Craft District Artist-in-Residence. He talks about his work and his plans for the Lincoln Park project.
P.L.: My easel paintings are tempera and oil on canvas and the mural project will be acrylic on a substrate called PolyTab. The easel painting process is one I learned from Patrick Betaudier at the Atelier Neo Medici, which is often called Technique Mixte, which is just German for Mixed Technique. It’s a description coined by Max Doerner to describe the process used by the Northern European Renaissance painters, particularly in the Van Eyck studio. It uses alternating layers of achromatic, tempera paint with color, oil glazes. This layering can be repeated any number of times to create very luminous paintings that reflect light from within the painting. The mural process is one developed by Mural Arts in Philadelphia where the painting is created on the polytab cloth in a studio and adhered to the wall using acrylic binder, as opposed to creating the painting on site.
I’ve been painting with the oil process since 2005 and the mural process since 2014.
The reward of the public paintings is that they are for the people that live in and use that specific community. I get to develop a work that attempts to express the values of the community and help create a visual metaphor for a sense of identity. It is also something that is shared and isn’t creating a separate, art based experience, such as going to a museum or gallery. This painting is simply part of everyone’s daily life. I think it can downplay the air of elitism that people often associate with gallery art, while also raising the importance of art as a part of normal life. Art is first, and foremost, for people.
My first public Mural is in the Northshore district of Chattanooga Tennessee. My personal website is paullajeunessedotcom.wordpress.com.
I will also have an upcoming exhibition at the Duluth Art Institute in November of 2017
The Duluth Art Institute residency is a wonderful opportunity to create my first public work in Duluth. Part of what I want to accomplish more so as a citizen than as an artist, is to create a sense of place. I want this painting to be a way to express the values and ideals of the community and create a work that expresses what they want to say. It’s their story and I am the vehicle to make that come to fruition. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know the Lincoln Park neighborhood and the business owners and residents. Being connected to a community, and helping give an identity to the community is the greatest reward for this project. I hope that this first mural in the neighborhood can create momentum, and help give Lincoln Park a stronger identity as makers, artisans, and craftspeople. It is in the vein of tradition of the blue collar origins of Lincoln Park and it is a source of pride that I want to highlight. I hope that this project helps instill a sense, not of revitalization, but of highlighting the existing strengths of the community and of the people that live there. The neighborhood has a history of makers, and high quality, handmade wares are highly valued by people, as opposed to machine produced objects in factories. Hopefully this all leads to more murals and art projects in Lincoln Park for regional and national artists.
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