Jared Hankins: On the Edge
What comes to mind when you see a rollercoaster — the youthful, nostalgic adrenaline rush that made you crave treacherous curves and gravity-defying loops, or an unpleasant recollection of nausea and fear?
Artist Jared Hankins is well aware that such iconic theme-park staples can call up vivid memories and provoke interesting conversations. His painting, “The Pace”, depicts a rickety wooden coaster seemingly riding into the grey abyss, recalling childhood images of family trips filled with messy corn dogs and comically large sodas.
“Roller coasters are one of those things that everyone has an opinion on,” Hankins says, as he deftly outlines a complex structure on his canvas. “They make people say, ‘Oh my gosh, I love roller coaster rides!’ or ‘Oh my gosh, I hate roller coasters!’ They evoke something in people.”
Hankins adds finishing touches to a roller coaster painting at the Marshall Gallery on March 25, 2021.
His extremely detailed structure paintings take anywhere from 80-100 hours to complete.
A stylistically diverse autodidact, Hankins’ portfolio contains an array of work ranging from snow-covered black and white mountains to hyper-realistic depictions of legendary rock ‘n’ roll guitars. Much like the aforementioned roller coasters and landmark bridges, e.g. Golden Gate and Brooklyn, his Americana paintings evoke powerful memories of common and collective experiences. A simple roller skate, worn but colorful, shifts viewers’ minds to a not-so-distant past.
From left to right: The guitars of B.B. King, Jerry Garcia, and John Lennon.
Hankins grew up in Colorado, so his Western landscapes are personal, though he sensitively rejects the label of a “western artist.” He does acknowledge that he is “drawn to the tangible history and vastness of the plains, the power and serenity of the mountains, and the strength and vulnerability of the American Bison.”
Ritz Carlton Buffalo 48’’ X 60’’ Oils on panel
Hankins also draws inspiration from personal hardships: at just 31 years old, he suffered a stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body. Although he eventually recovered through extensive physical therapy and emotional support, Hankins’ perspective and accompanying art changed to reflect his feelings surrounding that unfathomably dark period. He painted “Storm” while disabled, a piece with an understandable “moodiness and dark quality,” in which lightning, thunder, and a torrential downpour slowly advance, ready inevitably to engulf the frame and the viewer.
Subsequent pieces evidence his re-emergence into the light of physical freedom. They explain his fascination with happy nostalgia, whether a bowling alley, roller skate, guitar or complex structure be the current subject of his muse.
The Wave, 60’’ X 40’’ Oils on canvas
Jared Hankins’ eclectic art subjects are currently on display at the Marshall Gallery.
By: Marissa Latzman