“I think we are all bozos on this bus”. Adopting a comedy album title from the 1970’s group, Firesign Theater, artist George Kocar cogently sums up his philosophy toward his art. “It is satire; it is flippant; it is the way I deal with this crazy world through my paintings and drawings. The red noses, the eye glasses, the bad teeth, and the flying bananas are all symbols that I use to portray my vision of the world.”
Kocar’s work will be exhibited in the Studio Gallery of Artworks Around Town during the month of November. The opening gallery hop will be friday evening, November 3rd, from 5:00 to 8:00. Artworks is located in the North end of the historic Centre Market at 2200 Market Street in Wheeling.
George Kocar began his art education at Cuyahoga Community College. He graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in Studio Art. He began his professional career at a small screen print shop in the nearby town of Macedonia, Ohio. While there, he created a kind of illustration/logo for the city of Cleveland with the slogan, “Cleveland, you’ve got to be tough!”, which he defines as his first real success.
About this same time, his work was accepted into his first May Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art, arguably one of the most prestigious juried art shows in the country. This led to invitations to participate in other group shows and to the commencement of his work toward his MFA degree at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. At this point his career took a sharp upward trajectory. As he tells the story, “Part of that program involved trips to New York City. As a result, I obtained illustration commissions from Esquire, the New York Times and numerous others. My work gained national attention and I got commissions from publications around the country. I also started getting into New York City gallery shows. In 1984 I was hired as an illustrator for American Greetings where I worked for the next eighteen years. I continued freelancing for newspapers,and magazines as well as painting; entering and getting into many shows.”
Among his one man shows are the Montserrat Gallery in New York; The Trumbull Art gallery in Warren, Ohio; The Erie Art Museum in Erie, Pa; The 5700 Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio. Juried exhibitions include: “All Ohio”, Zanesvile Art Museum, Zanesville, Ohio; The Butler mid-year Exhibition, Butler Institute for American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; Fantastic Visions, the Limner Gallery, Phoenicia, NY; and many years at the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the Cleveland May Show.
Area residents may recall that Kocar had a one-man show at the Nutting Gallery, West Liberty University in 2011, curated by Gallery Director, Art Professor and well known local artist Robert Villamagna. He urges observers to look beyond the “cartoonish” surface of his work to its artistic elements of color, design and composition. That Kocar is a very fine artist is an opinion echoed by Marilyn Phillis, Artworks Around Town member and curator for the Studio Gallery.
Commenting on his work she says,”He makes social statements with a quirky sense of humor. His art causes one to think, and requires time to get to an understanding of his message. It is confrontation rather than the lyricism we expect from a work of art. One of his characters is named Pablo. Does that remind you of anyone?”
Kocar concludes his artist statement saying,”My attitude toward life has not changed after all these years. I have experimented with different styles, loose and expressive as well as hard-edge and divisionist. I am influenced by Picasso, Van Gogh, Munch and scores of cartoonists and illustrators. In true post-modern fashion. I borrow from everyone.
I continue to paint, and I still think we are all bozos on this bus. In keeping with its tradition of providing a venue for the art work of younger children, the North Gallery will feature work by the students of Union Local Elementary School.
Also in the North Gallery: new, old, big, small, with painted designs, photographs, ribbons, shells, etc. They are all boxes, emerging from the talent and original thinking of the members of Artworks Around Town. The Holidays are traditionally a time for putting things into boxes, but when does a box itself become the gift? When, like these boxes, it becomes a work of art.
The Gallery Hop is free and open to all. Guests will enjoy refreshments and an opportunity to meet the visiting artist as well as Artworks member artists. For further information visit us on the web at artworksaroundtown.org or call (304)232-7540.