John Spinks is a Co. Clare born artist living and working in Brooklyn. His work was recently exhibited at New York’s famous Gleason’s boxing gym.
Tell us about your Irish roots.
“The Clare root is in Ennis, Co. Clare. My mother was a Sheedy, one of 10 children, six of whom were girls. If you've got six girls and a fiddler, you've got a dance. I remember as a child sitting on the stairs watching the dancing. The family is musical, all my cousins play and their kids too. I moved to New York 30 years ago.”
What was it growing up with an Irish mother and a father from Newcastle, England?
“My mother was a midwife, a strong force in the community. She rode a bike and delivered babies in peoples' homes. She did this long enough to deliver babies from babies she had delivered. My dad had been in the army and he was the disciplinarian, but it was he who taught me to appreciate nature. Irish and Geordie parents -- that's good for the genes.”
How did you get interested in painting?
“It's a way of interpreting and processing life through observation. There's a ‘take’ and ‘put’ side to it that appeals to me.”
Tell us about your latest exhibition.
“Gleason's Gym closes for two days every year. The only rule is that the work be boxing related. I like it because it's the antithesis of an art gallery. It's interesting to hear boxing people react to art.”
What is your favorite thing about painting?
“The fact that it is fluid and then it becomes solid. I think of my pieces as benign snares. The idea is that the painting hooks the viewer from a distance of 15 feet. The viewer should be intrigued and draw closer, then you've got your audience. The beauty of it is that the artist is not there but the painting is. A good painting can be as comforting as a fire in a house, a source of energy.”
Who is your favorite artist?
“It would have to be Joyce. He reminds us in his work that ordinary life is a miraculous and marvelous thing.”
What projects are you working on at the moment?
“Two things. I'm working with sheet music. I’m using it in collage. Drawing with the notes is how I'd describe it. A second project for the autumn is a foray into collaboration. I have an idea for a ‘Sacred Vessel,’ a design for a vase. I'm going to be working with a potter and hope to realize the concept in clay.”