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Jon specializes in hypnotic, beautiful and demented landscapes in which the animals have reconfigured with one another and taken over. Deer become trees, owls’ eyes glow from within, snakes and frogs merge with rats and gophers. He works on large pieces of paper, drawing first in black and white and then masking off areas to create dramatic skies with spray paint behind his figures. The whole process is meticulous and detailed to a degree worthy of much respect. Also, just when I thought I couldn’t adore Jon any more, he went and added octopi and bats to his repertory of animal characters, thereby proving me totally wrong.
Jon has also been working in sculpture since his stint in early 2007 as an artist in residence at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Yes, it’s the same Kohler who make sinks and toilets, and yes, I said Sheboygan. His projects there included haunting owls and disembodied antlers, some covered with felt flocking. He’ll also have an exhibition at Kohler later this year.
Jon’s work is challenging both to those who don’t understand why art would focus on the darker side of life, and to those who feel that contemporary art should never be pretty. Jon’s work is unembarrassed in its beauty, but it’s never easy to look at. He uses opulence as a tool to seduce the viewer into engaging with ideas of natural devastation and the obsolescence of humans, without fully realizing what he or she is getting into. It’s gorgeous but not decorative, smart yet not preachy. Keep an eye on Jon Rappleye and I promise you he will do amazing things. – Better Living Through Art, July 9, 2008