Continuing AT LARGE, a feature which aims to ascertain what sense of geographic priority if any American contemporary artist’s have we tracked down Jon Peck, who left Miami for New York last year.
Our Jon Peck isn’t from Miami; nor is he to be confused with his screen/script/comedy writing and blogging name sake, Jon Peck. Our Jon Peck is the artist, who after graduating with a BFA in sculpture from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2002 was invited in 2004 to be an artist-in-residence at the Art Center of South Florida on Miami Beach. Having settled in Miami Jon became a key member of Awesome-ish Studios (now closed) alongside Miami artists Manny Prieres, Pres Rodriguez, Jen Stark, TM Sisters and Mike del Marmol. In 2007 he received the prestigious South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship for Visual Art, and was included in the exhibition “New Art: South Florida 2007″ at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami’s Wynwood annex, MOCA at the Goldman Warehouse. Then in June of 2008, just as things in Miami were really beginning to take off, Jon did too to attend the Cooper Union School of Art Summer Residency Program. A great loss to Miami, Jon who has no apparent plans to return currently works out of a studio in Brooklyn. Working mostly in crayons, Styrofoam, paper, and a variety of crafts supplies his work has been featured in several publications including the infamous book Miami Contemporary Artists and The Nude Male: 21st Century Visions, published by Rizzoli. His responses to our questionnaire are short, maybe not what we or our readership were hoping for, but at least they’re honest, maybe.
Why did you leave?
I don’t know
Was it worth it?
I don’t know
Are you coming back?
I don’t know
If you have maintained healthy ties to Miami please discuss them stating how this was important.
I love Miami and I live with it everyday. I bump into Miami everywhere I go and friends from Miami even live in my new neighborhood.
Self portrait produced while resident in Miami.
Please compare and contrast New York and Miami in an original way.
There is no comparison. Miami is nothing like New York, but then Miami is nothing like any other place I’ve ever lived. Miami exists in its own dimension.
What is the most significant difference you have found between professional practice in Miami and where you are now?
Has that affected the way in which you work? If so how?
Of course it has, so has the winter. It’s nice to live in this place, but if your question is, has living in New York made me make more or better artwork, then the answer is no. Maybe the biggest surprise about moving here is that my life has changed very little. This is a very normal place to live. You can go out and try to devour as much of the city as you can, or you can stay in, be quiet, work, visit with friends, and it’s as if New York is anywhere USA.
How has your work responded to the change?
I’m continuing to become a better artist all the time but I don’t think it’s place that makes you better, it’s time and state of mind. Living here my mind feels more focused, but whether or not that because of this place I have no idea.
A piece produced while resident in NY.
Is the scene as incestuous as in Miami?
More, or maybe the same, I don’t know. It’s like trying to compare a small high school in a small town to a high school of a couple thousand in a huge city. In a small town it’s clear who the popular kids are, who the geeks are, who’s lame, who’s a freak, who’s a virgin, who sucks. But in a school as big as New York it’s kind of impossible to have those labels. It’s simply too big and too diverse.
Do you value Miami more or less having moved away?
My feelings for Miami haven’t changed. I miss it a little more when it’s 20 degrees outside, but I’m not sad that I left. Miami is incredible. I talk about it all the time. Although the community of artists is relatively small it’s stacked with heavy hitters. I can easily count on both hands the number of artists there—my age alone—that I admire and respect as being some of the best artists I’ve ever had the privilege of personally knowing. I aspire to be as good as they are everyday.
Are you more stable financially?
Financially I’m the same. The difference is here I have a great job doing something that I’m really qualified for. Miami is no cheap place to live. I moved there from Kansas City where you can rent an apartment for two hundred dollars a month, and my first place in Miami was triple that. I actually pay the same amount to live here that I did to live there, but here I make more than I ever did in Miami and I have more space too. I have a sweet studio and a nice apartment, and if I had to compare it to Miami I’d say the cost of living here is nearly on par. Food is way cheaper, and WAY better. I miss it though, Miami, and if you ever want to come for a visit my door is always open. I have plenty of room[.]