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I am a painter. www.StephenCefalo.com, http://twitter.com/#!/CefaloStudio

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jonathan Queen

Jonathan Queen is an excellent human being. We shared the same exact circle of friends in high school and lived in the same town, but didn't bother to meet each other until we were grown with families. He is now one of my very best pals, and is one of the funniest people I've ever known. He is a man of God and a great father to his children. One of the most remarkable things about Jonathan, however, is the fact that he taught himself to skate vert (ramps, bowls) in his thirties by skating with his son.

Jonathan's toy narratives are no less funny, no less serious, deep and intelligent than their creator. They are art historically knowledgeable allegories with gravitas, and profoundly well painted.

Toy painting is definitely a genre, and if Jonathan is not its leading figure he is one of the most important. it should be noted that these still-lifes are staged and painted directly from life. This sets him apart from the photorealist painters who set up photo shoots and copy them systematically, usually resulting in a kitschy slickness. Although utilizing pop cultural icons like Pee Wee Herman and Pinocchio, Jonathan is not by any stretch a pop artist. His works are not mere jokes or one-liners, but are timeless and transcendental. Compare the existential quality of Jonathan's ominously glowing typewriter to Robert Cottingham's stone-cold copies of the same subject. Of course the intent is quite different.

Jonathan's manner of shaping with light and color adhere more closely to the humanist traditions of the renaissance and baroque than anything else, as does his caring attention to nature study and depth of form. In a way they triumph over banality by actually making us feel and contemplate our own existence. The toys are not the subject but the medium.

When I gave Jonathan this Pinocchio, I think he didn't know what to do with it. I'm overjoyed that it has found its way into his cast of characters. The photos in the background were taken at Michelangelo piazza during our trip to Florence.

A sensual study of a weird vegetable/fruit in a north lit window.

Jonathan Queen on Rockwell on Pollock.

Norman Rockwell

A portrait of a sock monkey.


  1. Freaking out! One amazing painter friend deftly describing another amazing painter friend! Electric and ecstatic! I can't help but suspecting Mr. Queen might be a bit of genius. Do you guys throw that word around much in fine art?

  2. And your writing is just great, Steve! Honest!

  3. It's not a sin to use " genius". I'd definitely put Jonathan there.