Exhibit honors work of late artist, friend

May 10, 2013

By MIKE CHAIKEN
EDITIONS EDITOR
“Who is Jordan Deschene?”
That’s the question begging to be answered at an art exhibit opens this Saturday in Southington at Paris in Plantsville.
The exhibit features the work of Deschene, who served as the gallery’s resident artist, general manager, and an instructor. as well as works by his friends and other artists (such as internationally renowned Joshua Smith) who created art inspired by Deschene.
Deschene passed away suddenly last year, an event that left most of those associated with the gallery stunned. At openings, he was lively presence, quick to banter in a conversation, and he typically offered well-informed insight into just about everything.
Deschene’s presence definitely loomed large at the local gallery.
“Who is Jordan Deschene?”
According to his own words, which he put down in his application to become a resident artist at the Farmington Valley Arts Center in Avon, Deschene said, “My body of work can be described best as illustrative fantasy painting. I describe it as whimsical and dark altogether infused with inspiration from Theodore Geissel, Max Ernst, and the modern painters Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins and Paul Bonner… I am especially dedicated to my teaching. I have had students from ages 4 to 75. I particularly enjoy working with teenagers as I find it challenging and therefore more rewarding. My work tends to be more inviting to students of this age, and I feed off of the excitement that I receive from seeing what I have come to refer to as the ‘AH-HA!’ moment.”
And to his colleagues and friends, “Who is Jordan Deschene?
Sean Michanczyk, owner of Paris in Plantsville and a friend of Deschene said, “If someone asked me who Jordan is…. I would say he’s an enigma, as well as an ever changing amoeba of information, laughter, and loyalty. There was nobody quite like him, he was able to fit into any crowd, remain humble…but also (he was) witty, which showed in his work as a artist.”
Jon Bristol, who has been serving as resident artist and general manager since Deschene’s passing, said, “Jordan was more than my friend. More than an artist. He was a brother. Not ‘like a brother,’ he was my little brother, it was our bond. Like brothers, we didn’t always get along, or agree, but at the end of every day when one of us went to our rooms for the night, we said goodnight and found a way to laugh at the day that just ended.
“He was passionate… about his art first and foremost, then about the outdoors, good coffee, and beer, and his friends,” added Bristol “That passion is what I think about when he pops into my head from time to time.”
“Who is Jordan Deschene?”
Renowned artist Clinton Deckert of Southington, who has long supported Paris in Plantsville, knew Deschene well. (He is also showing a work at the May 11 show in honor of his friend.)
“Jordan was one of those guys that would act like he didn’t care about anything, but then suddenly you realize that deep down he cared about everything,” said Deckert.
“Jordan’s artwork and his character were both unique,” said Deckert. “Something struck a chord, or a funny bone, when we met at Paris In Plantsville a few years ago. Although our artwork was quite different from each other’s, it still shared a common thread of something intangible. Jordan had vision and drive and I started to look at Jordan as a little brother in our microcosm of the so-called imaginary ‘art world.’ We would critique each other’s work. I would recommend shows to him, write letters of recommendation, and even selected his work when I was curator for the much celebrated ‘Beyond the Gate’ exhibition at Artspace Gallery Hartford last year. That event turned out to be one of Jordan’s last shows…”
In the piece prepared for the Paris in Plantsville show, a large rabbit looms large in Deckert’s piece. The promotional artwork for the show also includes a rabbit.
Why the rabbits? Deckert explained, “Jordan once told me that he painted creepy rabbits for years before he realized where the inspiration started. It turns out that when he recalled his childhood, his bedroom had wallpaper depicting bunny rabbits munching on carrots. So at ‘lights out,’ he would imagine all the rabbits staring at him, taunting and haunting into his psyche.”
“Who is Jordan Deschene?” will be up at Paris in Plantsville, 15 West Main St., Southington May 11 through May 31. An opening reception will be held Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m.

The late Jordan Deschene, left, with artist Clinton Decker at Artwell in Torrington in 2010. They are standing in front of a piece by Deschene.

The late Jordan Deschene, left, with artist Clinton Deckert at Artwell in Torrington in 2010. They are standing in front of a piece by Deschene.

Artist Clinton Decker painted this piece as a tribute to his friend and fellow artist Jordan Deschene. It will be on exhibit as part of Paris in Plantsville’s new show, ‘Who is Jordan Deschene?’

Artist Clinton Decker painted this piece as a tribute to his friend and fellow artist Jordan Deschene. It will be on exhibit as part of Paris in Plantsville’s new show, ‘Who is Jordan Deschene?’

One of the works created by the late artist Jordan Deschene.

One of the works created by the late artist Jordan Deschene.

One of the works created by the late artist Jordan Deschene.

One of the works created by the late artist Jordan Deschene.

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