Archive for Saturday, May 15, 2010

Life after death: Lawrence artist Jason Wood lives with no regrets after devastating injury

Lawrence artist Jason Wood is pictured in the Invisible Hand gallery, 801 1/2 Mass., along with his work, seen below, that will be showing until May 28.

Lawrence artist Jason Wood is pictured in the Invisible Hand gallery, 801 1/2 Mass., along with his work, seen below, that will be showing until May 28.

May 15, 2010


"New Works," by Jason Wood
  • Where: Invisible Hand Gallery, 801 1/2 Mass. St., Lawrence
  • Age limit: All ages
  • Cost: Free

Full event details

Past Event
Closing: "New Works," by Jason Wood

  • When: Friday, May 28, 2010, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Where: Invisible Hand Gallery, 801 1/2 Mass. St., Lawrence
  • Cost: Free
  • More on this event....
Art by Jason Wood

Art by Jason Wood

Art by Jason Wood

Art by Jason Wood

Art by Jason Wood

Art by Jason Wood

In July of 1999, Jason Wood was found lying in a San Francisco street barely clinging to life. As best as anyone could piece together, he had been struck by a car, but no one knows precisely — least of all Jason Wood himself.

“We’re not really sure if it was a car or what,” says Wood. “I was a bike messenger in San Francisco, but I can’t remember what happened. It’s just one of those things that happens when you have a head injury.”

That head injury, whatever the cause, left Wood in a coma.

“Right after my accident, of course I was unconscious for quite a while,” Wood recalls. “When I became conscious, I had no words — none at all for about a month. There weren’t words. It didn’t feel like I was missing the words, it was just that they felt like they didn’t apply to me. So I started sketching. I didn’t sketch very well, but I made little pen and ink lines. That was my first picture — lines over and over again in circles. That’s really all I had in me.”

And from those tentative first lines, using a hand that lost a good deal of movement as a result of the brain trauma, Wood set about rebuilding his life through art. He moved back to his native Lawrence and pursued a regimen of therapeutic visual arts. The result is a promising career, on display in his latest show, “New Works,” at the Invisible Hand Gallery.

“Jason’s always been creative, but earlier on it was more in the realm of language arts. He was an avid reader and aspired to be a writer,” says his father, Paul Wood, who Jason now lives with for assistance in those day-to-day activities that the injury has rendered difficult.

“But he had the accident 11 years ago, a head injury, which — because of the ramifications of that — pretty much forced him to seek a different kind of creative outlet. He needed something that didn’t involve reading or writing, two things which became problematic. So he started to investigate the visual arts. He’s been working hard at it ever since.”

The pieces in “New Works” are mixed media creations, utilizing found objects as a basis, then layering on paint and other materials to create organic shapes and textures.

“It’s all nature. That’s basically what they are. It’s all basically the same painting over and over and over again, but I reinterpret it every time,” says Jason, who occasionally still has difficulty expressing his art in words. “They’re all objects that — what am I trying to say? It’s like a poem, basically. I build it up like a poem. Basically, I have pictures that are seascapes and landscapes and in between the two. ... Some are fire, some are land, some are sea. I leave it up to the viewer to interpret it. I leave that to the individual.”

The resulting work is multi-dimensional and seemingly in a state of flux, almost as though it was moving before your eyes.

Lawrence artist Jason Wood is pictured in the Invisible Hand gallery, 801 1/2 Mass., along with his work, seen below, that will be showing until May 28.

Lawrence artist Jason Wood is pictured in the Invisible Hand gallery, 801 1/2 Mass., along with his work, seen below, that will be showing until May 28.

“It’s intuitive and a little eclectic,” Paul Wood says. “His process is long and slow and it’s not really planned. … To me, it’s kind of a process of discovery. There’s no set plan — maybe a vague idea. It’s very much about the process. … It was a pretty devastating accident and he lost a lot. I think that, for Jason, to find some kind of creative purpose and meaning, was absolutely crucial and integral to his rehabilitation.”

The process of discovery his father sees in his work is also applied to Jason’s life.

“I really think that my life after my accident is just a plus. It was like my life ended after my accident and everything I have after is just a plus,” Wood says. “This is important — I love every single second of my life. I love my life after the accident just the same as I did before the accident. … There aren’t any regrets. If I had to live it over, I’d live it exactly the same.”


workinghard 8 years, 1 month ago

I have met Jason and he is truly inspirational. His works are beautiful, he used to have a website showing some of his work but I can't find it now. Wish I had bookmarked it.

sustainabilitysister 8 years, 1 month ago

Way to go Jason! You ROCK!!! Your father Paul is AWESOME TOO!! LOVE YOU GUYS!!! XOXOXO

LadyJ 8 years, 1 month ago

Jason's parents have shown true commitment in helping him achieve his goals, they deserve to be applauded. If I remember correctly, Jason's mother lived here at the time of the accident, but Paul lived in California. Paul relocated to Lawrence so Jason could move back here. Jason is a wonderful man with wonderful parents. Having had a son that required a year and a half of physical therepy, I realize how hard it is work and take someone to regular doctor visits. I can't imagine doing it for 11 years.

TreeBot 8 years, 1 month ago

Jason's last name is Wood, not Woods.

workinghard 8 years, 1 month ago

Looks like they fixed that, good catch.

gavon 8 years, 1 month ago

Corrected! Thanks for the heads up and apologies to Jason for the foul up.

meanyrealist 8 years, 1 month ago

I for one love when people pretend that pasting junk together is 'art.' I know I know, art is in the eye of the beholder right. Wrong, art requires some talent. Painting a life like scene in oil on canvas takes a lot of talent, or sculpting something beautiful from nothing. If I painted something it would look like a 4 year old's finger painting, as would most people's. That's why mine/most isn't art worth buying, an artist has something that is rare (talent).

That first thing is just a piece of painted old wood with what looks like a sea shell glued to it, with a little doo dad pasted on the right and a washer and nail glued to the left. I'm guessing it's priced around or higher than the simpler one beneath it: $450 DOLLARS?? I'd love to talk to the people who actually pay this for that stuff, and not someone who is related to the 'artist.'

I love real art, love art galleries and even buy some stuff, but the kind of people who encourage this stuff is nothing if not a giant group of people who all think the Emperor's new clothes look just FANTASTIC.

Money makes most people crazy - i.e. those who think spending $450 on this stuff is a wise purchase.

Nothing personal against Jason, his story is rough - I just want all those who think this stuff is art to get a grip.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 1 month ago

Let me make one thing clear: What makes it art is NOT whether or not it starts as "junk", but what he does with the "junk" is what makes it art.

I challenge you to go to a junkyard, "paste together" the stuff you find, and create something truly beautiful. You can't, because: it takes talent.

George_Braziller 8 years, 1 month ago

Gee. I guess that by your definition of art Louise Nevelson was a failure.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 1 month ago

"I just want all those who think this stuff is art to get a grip."

And when you enter a room, those that know you are likely looking for nearest exit so as not to inflict on themselves such overbearing pomposity as this.

Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago

If it's so easy and you can make $450 for gluing some wood together, why aren't you rich yet?

Here's a little experiment for you to try. Copy a Pollock or a Kandinsky. Don't even try to be creative, just make a copy. You will fail at creating even a poor copy.

Just because you are artistically illiterate, that doesn't make you an expert on postmodern art.

For the record, Mr Wood's art is well done. Out of the pieces on his web site, all have extraordinary texture and space and almost all have great colors. My only advice to Mr Wood would be "slash at the work a little harder", metaphorically speaking. An artist's soul comes to life when the piece is his enemy. Hate it, then love it. Then stare at it a while.

riverdrifter 8 years, 1 month ago

After reading this article this morning I promised myself that if I hit a good exacta or any trifecta on the Preakness today, I would race up to Invisible Hand and latch on to a couple of Jason's works. Maybe next year, Jason. Keep at it.

impska 8 years, 1 month ago

By mocking Thomas Kinkade and Rockwell and insinuating that they are not real artists by putting "art" in quotation marks, didn't you basically just do the same thing as meanyrealist?

weegee 8 years, 1 month ago

meanyrealist--You might want to do a little Art History reading. There was once this guy named Marcel Duchamp...

workinghard 8 years, 1 month ago

It is not just junk pasted together. There are layers and layers and layers of paint applied gradually, slowly, to achieve the effect he is looking for. There probably is enough paint there to do several regular paintings. That's why it takes so long. Pictures do not do his work justice. I suppose some would rather he just gave up and laid in a hospital bed as an invalid the rest of his life. Would that make his life more meaningful?

Thanks for the link to his work.

workinghard 8 years, 1 month ago

For the record, I like the work on his website better, but that's just my opinion.

workinghard 8 years, 1 month ago

I find it interesting that meanyrealist is a new user today and his only comment is about this article. Even his choice of username is interesting.

LadyJ 8 years, 1 month ago

Jason was interviewed by a KU student a couple of years ago and he so inspired her with his views and outlook on life that she changed her direction in school to follow a career that would lead to something that maybe would not make her as much money but would be something that she would love doing. Someone "just pasting junk together" does not inspire other people like that. Jason is a remarkable young man and an asset to Lawrence.

As for meanyrealist, maybe you should just make it 'meany'. Why would you create an account just to bash someone's work? You could have just started a blog about what you think is or is not art and didn't have anything to do with any particular artist. What you did was just "mean". Do you kick small animals and children as well?

bearded_gnome 8 years, 1 month ago

just a little puzzled: there's no S in that web address?

me thinks Meanyrealist (MR) is jealous?

Jason, good for you. keep the good attitude. you have to make good strong choices every day. rehab is never easy, and from traumatic brain injury is often th worst.

was curious, what street in san fran were you on when you were hit? financial district?

TopJayhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

But doesn't he have any real art? You know those masterpieces that you paint by looking at the numbers? Personally I can't respect any artist that does not paint on black velvet. Now that is art. Good Job Jason, very inspirational.

TopJayhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

Gee donuts. Glad you are back in the City. You must be so much better off there.

Kris_H 8 years, 1 month ago

According to the article he was once skilled with words.

What he is doing now is like making stories or poems, only with physical substance rather than words.

I'm hoping he won't be reading some of the words here. Sometimes opinions can be kept to oneself instead of flung at the world.

Keep on keepin' on, Jason, and thanks.

workinghard 8 years, 1 month ago

Decided to check out donnuts past comments which led me to all his blogs. All I can say is, wow. Maybe he was high or something when he wrote them. Seems he has a lot of trouble with a lot of people.

workinghard 8 years, 1 month ago

Well, if I had something to say, I guess it would be that you can't live in the past and need to move forward. Bad things happen to people, it's how you live your life after that. Are you going to let it rule the rest of your life. I've had my fair share of bad things in my life, but I choose to let the past be the past. Have actually made friends with people that I had problems with in school, we were young then. People change and even regret the way they acted when they were young. Jason is probably not the same person he was when you went to school together and neither are some of the others you went to school with. Give people a chance. Yes for some people, once a jerk-always a jerk, I know a few of those. But you'll never know if you don't give them a chance. Oh, and yes, some guys were great in school, but turned into jerks afterward. I acknowledge some people change for the worse.

ThisIsNutz 8 years, 1 month ago

Jason has changed a lot during the years. He had his fair share of hard times, too. Donnuts blames ALL his woes on everyone else. They are the cause of all his inner torment. I am surprised you still refer to your "ex" Donnuts that was back in the 80's. Stop living in the past and start looking toward the future.

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