Art Talk Monday: Magical Place Between

The photography of Jonathan Donehoo will be featured at 102: A Bistro October 5th through December 1st, in a solo exhibition called “Magical Place Between,” with an opening reception October 5th from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.. This exhibit is presented by the North Central Louisiana Arts Council in association with 102: A Bistro.

 The artist, Jonathan Donehoo, is director of the School of Art at Louisiana Tech University, and has been at Tech for over 31 years. Before becoming director, Donehoo taught communication design at Louisiana Tech, and its influence is evident in his conception of art as a means to promote deep and wide exploration, through travel and through attention to detail and consideration of one’s surroundings. This influence blends with the influence teaching has on his work to create pieces that motivate people to seek opportunities for learning and growth, abroad and in their own backyard. Donehoo explains, “I’m hoping they understand you don’t have to go to Turkey to see this stuff. You can walk around Ruston and see this. You can walk around this building and see it. It’s just a matter of looking at it in a certain light. A certain time of day. A certain way the wind is blowing. Just take advantage of that moment. But it doesn’t have to be just exotic places. It can be right around you. Everyday life.”

 The son of Christian missionaries, Donehoo grew up abroad, in places like Colombia and Costa Rica. Constantly exposed to new languages and settings, he learned just how much there is to notice in what is, to a native, commonplace. That is perhaps the underlying premise that drives his work – noticing something more, finding magic in the details. According to Donehoo, that is the role of a visual artist. “That’s what artists do,” says Donehoo, “We look at things. And part of our job is to see things other people do not see. Just as part of a musicians job is to hear things other people might not hear.”

 This show, “Magical Place Between”, will feature photographs taken during Jonathan Donehoo’s travels abroad that explore the dynamic transitions between light and dark in architectural space. An avid traveler, Donehoo is drawn to architecture as immensely inspiring to experience in person yet the most challenging to photograph. Donehoo acknowledges “the impossibility of photographing architecture in a real sense, because architecture’s three dimensional. It is an environment that you walk into, while photography is two dimensional, and you can look at as many pictures as you want to of something, but until you walk into that space, you don’t really know what it’s about.”

 By photographing an experience that is impossible to represent via photograph, Donehoo triggers the memories of viewers who have traveled to those places to reconstruct those experiences, while creating, through their mysterious and magical nature, a tension in those who have not visited that place, which can only be resolved through travel and exploration. To quote Art Professor Marie Bukowski, “Donehoo’s photographs become memories and memoirs that allow the viewer to relate to the work through their own emotional connections.”

As works that speak to the necessity of broad and eclectic exploration to our quality of life, these photographs are especially suited to the space in which they will be exhibited. 102: A Bistro is a restaurant in which culture is celebrated broadly, with menu items such as sushi and Miso soup, and more locally, with lively interpretations of regional dishes such as jambalaya with shrimp and tomato jelly. The dialogue between these two culturally diverse entities – Jonathan Donehoo, who grew up in South America and travels extensively in Europe, and 102: A Bistro, with its Asian and Creole inspirations, is bound to be rich and rewarding for any viewer.

 As the director of the school of art, and a long time Ruston resident, Donehoo has created a body of work that by its nature explores Ruston’s place in the global community, or more to the point, the global community’s place in Ruston, in the lives and culture of its residents.

 At the opening of “Magical Place Between”, hors d’ourves will be served, and while at 102: A Bistro, attendees are encouraged to eat a meal, have some wine, and take in the full range of cultural experiences this show has to offer. And as Donehoo says, really look (and taste) and notice the magic that is here in Ruston.

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