Since its inception in 1981, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival has presented itself with striking visual imagery in the form of the official poster. Over the years, talented local artists have contributed their unique touch to this much anticipated and collectible piece. This year is no different. The festival is proud to present this year’s poster designs by Jacksonville artist Jeff Whipple.
Rarely done in the history of the festival, the 2018 poster features two designs that pay homage to the jazz fan and the performer. Each piece of art incorporates Whipples’ distinctive and highly recognized three-line motif. According to Whipple, “I use three lines because three repetitions of an element are a pattern and that implies a definite design. Think of it like a bass player repeating three notes to hold a jazz song together. Or, as Lou Reed said, ‘One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.’ I also use the three lines as a life symbol because the basic perception of something living is a pattern of movement. If viewers understand that the three lines represent something about life, they will create their own ideas about what it means in this poster.”
From the Artist
In creating this image, I wanted to pay homage to the audiences who enjoy the jazz performances. The musicians are of course essential to jazz but no art is complete without someone experiencing it. There are 36 years of Jax Jazz Fest posters featuring musicians so this time the recipients of their great talents are the subject. I wanted to manifest the joy of the audience with a single figure. But who would be the model? Liz Gibson is an acclaimed artist widely recognized for challenging our perceptions of human limitations. I’ve seen dozens of her performances and exhibits that brought audiences from tears to laughter and ultimately to self-empowerment. One of her themes is society’s notion of perfection as beauty. She’s told stories about how she couldn’t be a perfect beauty because of the birth defect that caused severe deformities in her right arm. But her audiences and I realized the total opposite was the truth. Liz thought she’d never be a poster model because she wasn’t perfect. And I believe no one but her could be a more perfect model for this poster.
I chose Ulysses Owens, Jr. to be the performer because he's nationally renowned as a jazz drummer and has strong local roots. When Ulysses posed in my studio he asked about the repeating three lines in my paintings. It was very easy to explain that to a drummer. Ulysses understood that he would be sending music to the jazz fan by clicking the beat with drum sticks. Liz stood near him acting like the jazz fan and that helped Ulysses make the communication that connects the two paintings.
The original paintings are oil on canvas at the same size as the poster.
The 2018 Jacksonville Jazz Festival poster can be purchased during the festival at the Official Jazz Store.
About the Artist
Jeff Whipple creates art that engages viewers in imaginative contemplations about the weirdness and beauty of our brief appearance in the infinity of time. A nationally recognized artist and playwright, Whipple has won dozens of awards in professional art competitions and six state-sponsored artist fellowships. This spring he won a $25,000 artist grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
He has had 84 solo exhibitions in galleries, colleges, and museums including the Tampa Museum of Art, the Gulf Coast Museum of Art, the Museum of Art, DeLand, and the Boca Raton Museum of Art. His art has been in dozens of group exhibitions across the U.S. and is included in corporate, municipal, college and museum collections. Whipple has had many large-scale public art commissions and is currently working on five sculptures for a park in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Jeff Whipple earned an MFA in visual art and has taught at several colleges. For more information and thousands of visuals: jeffwhipple.com