By Kelly M. Gross
Director, The David Strawn Art Gallery
The Art Association of Jacksonville is pleased to welcome Matt Jagitsch to The David Strawn Art Gallery, 331 W. College Ave. in Jacksonville, September 9-24. An opening reception was held on Saturday, Sept. 9 from 6-8 p.m. with “Gallery Talk” by the artist at 6:30 p.m.
As a kid, Matt Jagitsch was a drawer. He drew on everything — walls, furniture, textbooks, desktops. Once in middle school and high school, he had some incredible teachers who taught him that art was a form of expression and how to harness it.
Once Jagitsch began to have structural guidance, his interest in art grew at even more of a feverish pace. Art classes were constantly on his schedule during middle school and high school. After high school, Jagitsch attended Eastern Illinois University and chose art as a major. After college, he married and took a job in a non-art-related field. As he and his wife began a family, and life took off, unfortunately, art did not make the cut. Jagitsch found family life was great; however, there simply were not enough hours in the day for everything he wanted to accomplish, and the longer he was away from art, the less he missed it — and it stayed that way for 28 years.
Fast forward into the middle of COVID and people in the world suddenly have a lot more time on their hands. As he and his wife were working remotely, and with both of them being home more than normal, his wife suggested that he find something to do to occupy his spare time. So, he began to draw again.
Within a month, Jagitsch began experimenting with a technique first introduced to him in 1983 by a seventh-grade art teacher called reverse drawing. This is a medium of using a white pencil on black paper. With this technique, one is drawing highlights rather than the shadows and shading of conventional drawing. After two years and over 200 pieces, Jagitsch continues to love the medium more and more each day. For him, it is a way to recreate that dramatic, high-contrast look like black and white photography but in a drawing. His work is predominantly portraiture, both human and animal.
Jagitsch continues to show his work professionally and things have progressed so quickly the he feels his success has really had a lot to do with not knowing what he’s doing. He has applied for art fairs, gallery shows, etc., not knowing what he was getting into, only to find out later that some of those venues were fairly prestigious. Jagitsch continues to approach his art work with a casual attitude because he wants his art to continue to be an escape from his normal life.
When viewing his work, Jagitsch encourages the viewer to get up close to inspect the line work and see the hand of the artist in each piece. This is where the connections are made between the viewer, the artwork and the artist.
Gallery hours for September 10-24 are Sunday from 1-3 p.m. and Tuesday-Saturday from 4-6 p.m. Gallery hours are free and open to the public.