Could Hoboken painter Jason Gluskin be the Bob Gruen of his generation?
Gruen, a famous rock photographer who captured candid shots of such ’60s rock legends as John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix, gained a reputation for his ability to impart something new to familiar subjects.
“I’m beginning to find my voice as a painter.” – Jason Gluskin
Drawing ‘since I can remember’
Gluskin, a native of Boston who moved to Hoboken several years ago, said he was heavily influenced by his grandmother, a trained artist and hat designer who earned a master’s of fine art degree. She explored fashion design, watercolors, and collages when Gluskin was a child.
“That exposure was just part of how I grew up,” he recalled last week. “My parents embraced a lot of culture.”
Surrounded by art and an appreciation for the creative process, Gluskin said he’s “been drawing since I can remember…Whenever I would meet up with my grandmother, who lived in New York, we would do some art stuff together. But for a long time, [art] was never a discipline for me.”
Although he was minored in art in college, he majored in business and marketing at the University of Vermont. He later received a master’s in marketing at New York University.
In his 20s, Gluskin penned a short-lived comic strip called “The Munchies” which he insists “had nothing to do with drugs.” Instead, it was his attempt to mix “Peanuts” with “social commentary.”
He put his art work on the back burner for several years, he said, until “a traumatic personal experience changed my perspective.”
That experience, which he didn’t want to discuss in detail, led him to return to his art for therapy.
“I had to step back and try and figure out where I was in my life,” he said. “And I just started painting.”
Initially Gluskin, who paints in acrylic, said he fell into a style that was reminiscent of his youth.
As a kid, he had been drawn to the energy and bright colors of comic books, and he admits his first serious attempts at painting were “flat” and didn’t have much depth or texture to them. “But I knew I could draw, got a lot of really good feedback. So I decided to stick with it and tried to improve,” he said.
His subject was primarily the New York City skyline.
As he began to take his work more seriously, Gluskin said he began “learning different techniques” and started layering his paintings by using multiple colors, sponges, and palate knives to create more sophisticated effects. The results were striking, and in a few short years he has managed to take his work to a new level.
Gluskin estimates that about 50 percent of his newer works are still cityscapes of Manhattan, but as his confidence as a painter evolves, he’s focusing more on jazz and rock music motifs that allow for more complexity and originality.
Two of Gluskin’s most notable musical pieces are “Prove it All Night” – an interpretation of Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band members Clarence Clemons and Steven Van Zandt – and “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” an imagined jam session featuring Bob Dylan and members of The Band. The latter was displayed on a website about one of the members of The Band.
To come up with these images, Gluskin watched video footage of these musicians at work, but did not study still photos of them.
“I’m not interested in doing a painting of the same Bob Marley photo everybody has seen a million times,” he said. “I’m more interested in depicting something that’s more internal, something that really shows their essence.”
In the future he’d like to do similar paintings of Iggy Pop with David Bowie, Marvin Gaye, and perhaps Radiohead.
Last year Gluskin began showing his work publically, and he participated in the spring 2009 Hoboken Music and Arts Festival.
Despite a “torrential downpour, he said, “I sold two paintings and a lot of prints. And it really kept me inspired.”
His original paints range in price from $400 for smaller pieces up to $3,000 for larger works.
These days his artwork can be found in Hoboken Frame & Photo on lower Washington Street and can be seen in several rotating galleries that pop up in Hoboken and New York.
“Like anything else,” he said, “you just have to keep on developing.”
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.