Students, faculty, and visitors packed American River College’s James Kaneko Gallery Thursday night as celebrated local artist Jack Ogden visited his current exhibition, “Paint and Bristle.”
“Paint and Bristle” has been on display at the Kaneko since Jan. 14 and will run through Feb. 10.
The gallery reception was held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Kaneko, and featured 19 of Ogden’s paintings, all oil on canvas or board.
Jack Ogden mingled with students, faculty, and gallery visitors, and short speeches were given by Ogden and two colleagues.
“Tonight we welcome one of the most celebrated and nationally renowned painters of the Sacramento area,” said Patricia Wood, gallery director and ARC art professor. “He’s one of the biggest influences on art in this region.”
Ogden taught at Sacramento State for 35 years before retiring to pursue painting full-time.
“It’s a good job,” said Ogden. “A painter never has to retire.”
Ogden’s last few shows in the Sacramento area have sold out, an uncommon feat in the local art scene.
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Dan Samborski, ARC art professor and a former student of Ogden’s, spoke fondly of Ogden’s work and teaching style.
“He’s a painter’s painter, meaning that other artists are big fans of his,” Samborski said. “I think laypeople don’t necessarily get it, it looks much simpler than it is.”
Samborski said Ogden’s philosophy is that “you don’t paint the world, you form brushstrokes on a canvas that reference the world, and the viewer fills it in. He borders the real and the not real, so you get both realities.”
Wood added, “Jack works on art continuously. A good painting is never finished.”
And in fact, the largest piece in the gallery, “Picture Plain,” has been a work in progress since the 1960s. “It never came together,” Ogden said. “Just sat in the stacks.” Ogden finished the piece last year.
Though Ogden is a man of few words, he did take a moment during the reception to speak to the crowd about being an artist.
“Every painter is like a snail, you leave a trail,” Ogden said. “It’s nice to be able to see your trail.”
As for Ogden’s advice to aspiring artists: “If you’re looking for something to do with your life, this is a pretty good life. Hang in there.”