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Local artist accepted into a national juried show

John Jackson working in his studio near Trade TN. Jackson is a long time resident of Johnson County and supporter of the area arts and artists. You can see more of his work at the Johnson County Center for the Arts in Mountain City, TN.  Photo by Dennis Shekinah

By Tamas Mondovics

Local artist, John Jackson, was pleased to learn his work has recently found its way to a national juried show at the renowned A. Smith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas, and for a good reason. Known by his friends and family as “J” Jackson practices “slow” photography, and is one of the few photographers left in the world, who still creates cyanotype and silver gelatin images using the earliest photographic methods.  One of Jackson’s images was among the 50 works of art chosen from the 892 entries to be on display.

“My photogravure prints are made with a four-step process,” Jackson said, explaining that “two pieces of photographic film are processed in his darkroom. “First, the original image is exposed to the camera, and a film negative is made. Second, the film negative is enlarged onto another piece of photographic film, which yields a film positive of the original image.”

The printing plate is a commercially manufactured steel plate coated with a light-sensitive PVA emulsion, which is used in the printing industry to print labels etc.

“I make two separate exposures to the plate, using first an “aquatint” screen and then the film positive,” he said.

After exposure, the plate is etched in water – dried and hardened. The hardened plate is inked, wiped, and “pulled” through an “Etching” press with a piece of dampened paper.

“I think that photogravure printing is the most complicated and beautiful printing method that I practice,” Jackson proudly said.

J’s work can be seen locally at Johnson County Center for the Arts, which after weeks of being closed due to the pandemic, is now making an effort to reopen once again and welcome the public.

“We are happy to announce that we are set to reopen on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” said Johnson County Center for the Arts Director Cristy Dunn. “We can’t wait to see you again.”

Dunn emphasized that many of the Center’s volunteers are over 65 years old, so they will not be seen just yet.

“To protect you and our volunteers, we will have several safety measures in place,” she said.

Safety guidelines will include the wearing of masks that are strongly encouraged. “Will have some disposable ones available if you forget yours,” Dunn added.

No more than five visitors in the building at once with social distancing are guidelines also on the list, which is the reason for the Center’s “Maker Space” work area will be closed for now, and we won’t have in-person classes just yet. That creating art in Mountain City, is on the up tic, there is little doubt. Local residents like “J” and all the artists along with many volunteers are looking forward to practicing and displaying their work to the enjoyment of all, who stop by at the Johnson County center for the Arts for a look.

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