Don Joint's art in the mix

Artist's mixed media work will be on display at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Artist's mixed media work will be on display at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

November 05, 2009|By CHRIS COPLEY

Amusement park rides. Cheap trinkets. Sunset colors filtering through trees. "Made in Japan."

Pennsylvania-born artist Don Joint will discuss how these images from his childhood inspire his art during a gallery talk at 3 p.m. Sunday. Nov. 8, at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. An exhibit of Joint's collages opens this weekend and runs through Jan. 10.

He took a few moments from hanging his show this week to discuss his art.

"My work has always derived from looking at things from my childhood," he said. "This show is mainly collages - paintings with collage and some assemblage. They're basically childhood memories of Waldameer amusement park in Erie."

Joint said he grew up in Erie, Pa., in the 1960s, when Waldameer was an old-fashioned amusement park that hadn't changed since the turn of the century. It was on a wooded bluff overlooking Lake Erie, and the young Don Joint soaked up the mix of bright, neon lights, cheap made-in-Japan prizes, dark trees and woodland animals.


His Waldameer-themed collages feature organic-looking, painted backgrounds with overlaid compositions of cut-out figures and bright-colored highlights.

Joint said he's been working on the Waldameer collage series for three years. The series contrasts with his earlier artwork - paintings and needleworked compositions that riffed on geometry and color. His new series takes Joint back to another childhood pastime.

"I've always done collage. I looked, as a child, at Victorian scrapbooks and cutouts - I liked taking things that were damaged and reusing them," he said. "Collage allows me to create a world out of scraps - something that's real."

Joint acknowledged his current work is facing a stiff, cultural headwind. In the hierarchy of art, collage does not have the reputation of fine art.

"Collage has been sort of delegated to a place that's lower than other media, like painting," he said. "But all kids use paint and pencils and the like, just like Picasso (did). Collage is just another medium. It's no different from painting or sculpture."

Jennifer Smith, the show's curator, agreed. She pointed out that Joint's show replaces the lyrical landscapes of contemporary painter Richard Orient. Smith said she hopes museum-goers will appreciate the two artists' different approaches to contemporary images.

"We hope visitors will compare and contrast the work of two living artists," Smith said, "and see you don't have to be a certain way to be a successful artist."

Joint said his goal for people who see his work is more personal.

"I just want them to enter the world that I remember," he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Collages by Don Joint

WHEN: Opening reception is 2:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8; Joint will give a gallery talk at 3. The show continues through Jan. 10.

WHERE: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, City Park, Hagerstown

COST: Free admission; donation requested

CONTACT: Call 301-739-5727 or go to

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