Jono Tew

I came west to rural New Mexico several years ago and was immediately awestruck by by my surroundings. Having grown up by the ocean I’d never experienced anything like it. I loved the movement in the landscape: the countours of the land, the winding roads, the wind in the clouds and trees. Until my arrival here, I’d never seen its equal in nature. What was originally planned as a few months stay turned into a permanent move.

Rural New Mexico has a pastoral solitude unique unto itself. The passage of time doesn’t seem to have the same hold out here. Vintage trucks pass newer models on dusty roads. A tractor sits in the shade of a tree next to an old horse-drawn plow. Nowhere else have I witnessed the same humbling vastness of space coupled with the tiny reminders of human existence. Nature is the dominant feature in this environment and mankind’s efforts are rendered less significant. We become the needle in the haystack. A crumbling barn at the foot of a mesa, a fence amongst thousands of acres of open plain, a dirt road rambling through seemingly abandoned hills: these are the images I have found myself trying to capture.

I’d say the most obvious influence on my work would be the American painters of the early to mid 20th century. Painters like Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper were documenting the American Scene in a style that could be both beautiful and haunting. There is a sense of isolation, in both the subject matter and mood that resonates with me. Another influence, perhaps less evident but just as important, is Modernism. Through the analyzation and deconstruction of line, I strive to simplify and streamline my forms in order to better reflect the flow of the landscape as a whole.

I sometimes wonder what drives me in this endeavor. Perhaps I’m trying to reconcile the landscape of my past with the landscape of my present. Perhaps I am replacing the ocean of my youth, and in its stead, creating a fluid sea of plains, mesas, wind and trees.