By ML Ball
Photos: Courtesy of the Artist, Jason Bard Yarmosky
While it may be true that you can’t go home again, maybe you can go home to visit, particularly if you’re being honored.
Such is the case with Jason Bard Yarmosky, an internationally renowned figurative painter and a 2006 alumnus of The Art Effect (when it was Mill Street Loft). Jason is one of three honorees at this year’s Art After Dark, The Art Effect’s major annual event, which means that he’ll be returning to his hometown of Poughkeepsie for the festivities on October 24.
While Jason’s work has been exhibited all over the world—including Paris, Brussels, Germany and China—as well as in numerous museums and galleries across America, he got his start here in the Hudson Valley.
During his last two years at Poughkeepsie High School, Jason took drawing classes at Mill Street Loft, then attended the School of Visual Arts in New York, graduating with a BFA in 2010.
“We worked in acrylic, pastel and charcoal, and I learned to work from a live model, which was very beneficial because I never had the opportunity to do that before. It was great exposure.”
Jason now works primarily in oil, often using his grandparents as models to both explore age and to challenge the boundaries of traditional portrait painting.
“We don’t live in a society that celebrates aging,” says Jason. “We celebrate youth. Because I was so close to my grandparents, I was experiencing the aging process with them through the work we were doing. What I choose to explore in my work is personal.”
In his most recent paintings, Jason has continued to address the issue of age but has expanded his focus to bring together people with whom he has close personal relationships. “By putting these people together—old people, young people, white people, black people—these are all the people that make me who I am, who have really influenced and inspired me, so they’re self-portraits in some sense,” he explains.
Jason points out that these groupings also challenge the normality of tribalism within our society. “Primarily throughout art history, white men have been painting white people. Within the last decade, there has been an amazing platform for female artists, black artists, gay and trans artists,” he says. “For me, because my world is so diverse and eclectic, it only feels right in my own personal explorations to put these people together. It’s important to express what I’m trying to say regardless of whether it’s accepted at the moment or not. Eventually, I feel that if work is powerful and it’s sincere, and that you connect with it strongly, there’s a very good chance it will connect with other people.”