N.B. ARTIST'S ABSTRACT, COLOURFUL CREATIONS' PART OF VIRTUAL EXHIBIT
Michael Staples I The Daily Gleaner
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Paintings by Jared Betts, January 2020. documented in his studio at Centre Culturel Aberdeen, Moncton. Photo: Mathieu Leger
The works of a Moncton artist whose fun, abstract and colourful creations have been exhibited around the world are coming to Fredericton.
Gallery on Queen will be highlighting 14 pieces of Jared Betts's work - four of which are 64 x 84 - as part of a virtual exhibit set to open on April 27. Betts, who works out of a studio in Aberdeen Cultural Center in downtown Moncton, said he's thrilled to be part of the show, especially considering what people are going through at this time with COVID-19 pandemic. "I like that we're reacting to what's happening and still going through with doing a show and doing it online," Betts said. "That's what is neat about art, it's adaptable. It's really exciting to do this online show."
Nadia Khoury, owner of Gallery on Queen, said she wanted to feature Betts's for the last four years but, for various reasons, a show never came together."Jared is a very unique person." Khoury said. "He hustles for his art. He works extremely hard to always stay visible. He is a contemporary modern artist. Just a lovely person." Khoury described Betts' work as being just perfect for a society forced to move inside and live from a distance. "Our minds are so busy and everyone's mind is so occupied that we don't need to analyze a piece of art at this time," Khoury said. "His work is very simple for the spirit."
Betts described his work as "Neo Abstract Expressionist."
"Neo abstract expressionism is inspired by work that began in the 50s and 60s with artists like Jackson Pollock ...It was abstract art that was a reaction to [what] was happening at that time." Aside from '50s and '60s,Betts said he's also inspired by the neons, animal patterns and fashions of the 1980s. "My work also stems from right now and is influenced by technology, the internet and things like that."
Khoury said it's always preferable to have an exhibition where people can walk in, browse, talk and enjoy themselves but, in times like these, virtual is the way to go. "It's a new way of surviving," Khoury said. "I never really anticipated that I would be launching a show online. Our shows are quite popular because people like the gathering, the wine glass and chatting over a show ... but under the circumstances, we have to find new ways to go on."
FINDING ARTISTIC FOCUS
Times and Transcript + Telegraph Journal
Saturday, April 4, 2020
Moncton visual artist Jared Betts' exhibition is on display at the Capitol Theatre, which is closed due to COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Mathieu Leger
Moncton visual artist Jared Betts’ work has taken him around the globe. But as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to ravage the world, there was only one place he wanted to be. “I think it’s best for me to be with my family right now,” said Betts, who cut short a stay in Montreal two weeks ago to return home to Moncton.
Betts’ Honolulu Escapism exhibition opened at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre on March 11 and was set to run until April 24. But with the Capitol closing due to COVID-19 concerns, his exhibit is on hold – indefinitely. “Right now, the No.1 priority is the health and safety of my family and friends,” Betts said in an interview “My art goes to the sidelines at this point.”
Moncton visual artist Jared Betts' exhibition on display at the Capitol Theatre is inspired by escaping the Canadian winter to Hawaii.
And while much of the world has been getting used to self-isolation and working from home, those aren’t new concepts for the 37-year old Betts, who has been painting professionally for seven years and works full-time as an artist. “I’m always alone when I do work and I’m never, ever bored. If anything, I’ve always been practising self-quarantine or social distancing,” said Betts, who’s seven-piece Honolulu Escapism series is inspired by escaping the Canadian winter to Honolulu, Hawaii and can be viewed online on his social media channels.
“Not a lot really changes for me. I sometimes go weeks or months without seeing many people, especially when I’m at artist residencies.” It can make for long days and nights. When he’s in the middle of working on a series, it’s typical for Betts to work from noon until midnight, seven days a week in his studio. “For me I really love working alone. It allows for me to really take steps back and focus on what kind of art, what kind of message and what kind of compositions I want to be making,” he said. “Sometimes I’m not even listening to music or anything at all. Most of the time it’s just completely quiet, and in that way it’s really just about me and the paintbrush or the different ways that I’m applying the paint. I find it very calming.” In that sense, Betts is used to the social distancing that comes with his profession. “I’m a pretty introverted person, so I spend a lot of time all on my own, working in my sketchbook or on paintings or watching different movies,” said Betts, who works out of a studio in Moncton’s Aberdeen Cultural Centre. “I watch a lot of ‘80s fantasy movies. I find them very inspiring. I find all the colours and creatures super cool.” Betts’ works are also inspired by the 1950s and ‘60s – artists such as Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko – and his travels around the globe.
Moncton visual artist Jared Betts. Photo: Submitted
His paintings are included in collections in Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, Paris, China, Australia and Iceland. He’s taken part in artist residencies in Iceland, Ireland and Costa Rica and is currently exhibiting at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton. Betts is set to participate in residencies in Newfoundland and Taipei, Taiwan later this year. “I feel like I’ve been very fortunate – I don’t think my path has been anything of the norm. Right after graduating [from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design] in 2010, I was accepted to be in an artist residency in Iceland, and since then I’ve been travelling the world and exhibiting me work,” Betts said. “Every show is a domino effect. Each show has left to another show. It’s been really amazing the different shows I’ve been able to do.”
Betts credits his former high school art teacher, Anna Whalen at Moncton High School, for setting him on the road to becoming a professional artist. “She was so amazing. She was so supportive and encouraging. I really didn’t like school to be honest, but I always looked forward to that class. My favourite classes were art, lunch and recess,” Betts said. “Once I found art, it was a way to say what I was feeling without words. I’ve always been quite quiet, so for me spending all day ever day painting is wonderful.”
Paintings by Jared Betts documented in his studio at the Aberdeen Cultural Centre. Photo: Mathieu Leger
He believes the events of the last few weeks force people to take stock of their work – and lives – and could be an influence in future art work. “It makes you really take steps and realize what is really important. I think if anything, this time is allowing for people to really focus on what it is they want to be making or how they want to be living their lives,” Betts said. “The abstract expressionism of the ‘50s and ‘60s come out of reaction from war that was happening then, and I find right now is a pretty crazy and wild time that has never really happened, where the whole entire world is working together. It will be interesting to see what kind of art comes out of this because this is a pretty significant point in time.”
Moncton artist Emily Phillips had an exhibition with two other artists at Moncton's Galerie Sans Nom postponed last month. Photo: Submitted
Fellow Moncton artist Emily Phillips had an exhibition opening with two other artists at Moncton’s Galerie Sans Nom postponed last month. The gallery is working on putting together an online video tour of the exhibition. Unlike Betts, Phillips has a full-time day job at a landscaping, architecture and urban planning company and works on her art during evenings and weekends. “You apply pretty far in advance when you’re going to have an exhibition, and usually once you apply, depending on the venue, it can be anywhere from a year to two years when they schedule you in,” said Phillips, who does landscape painting and oil paint art. “I generally show one good size show every two years. My next major show isn’t scheduled until 2022. If it doesn’t end up being shown to the public – I’ll apply to show it elsewhere – it can have a bit of an impact and interruption in that way.”
A painting by Moncton artist Emily Phillips. Photo: Submitted
Phillips said the global pandemic isn’t going to stop her from viewing her favourite subject – landscapes. “One of the nice things, I guess, about this outbreak is that it doesn’t really impact your ability to go outdoors,” she said. “For me, I’m still getting to go outside, trails are safe spaces for us to go, so I’m not worried about my ability to visit these places.”