Blooming in Chigago

Written by Jared Betts

I was invited to present my work in a two-person exhibition at Epiphany Center for the Arts in Chicago in September 2023. The exhibition, titled “Situations of Liminality and Transformation”, featured new work by myself and Chicago-based artist Sheri Rush.

I received a Career Development – Arts by Invitation grant from artsnb, so that I could travel to Chicago for a week to attend the opening. I feel that this exhibition was a significant milestone in my career, it was my first time exhibiting my work in Chicago and it was an incredible opportunity to deepen my professional relationship with Sheri Rush and with Epiphany Centre. I was able to meet other artists from the area, present my art to a new audience, explore new markets for my work, and connect with local galleries. It was amazing to exhibit with Sheri Rush and learn what inspires her paintings and how she creates them. We learned we have a very similar color palette that we gravitate towards and both enjoy using high flow paints + spray paint.

For the exhibition, my contribution was a series of 7 paintings (4’ x 5′) inspired by the New Brunswick forest, with a focus on abstract expressionism, bold colours, and organic mark-making. I took inspiration from Maud Lewis adding Forget Me Not flower references over top of one my abstract works. These are my favorite flowers that grow in my front yard and when I was making my paintings for the exhibition, I would go outside each morning and look at them, so it became more and more evident that they had to appear in my work.

Art is important to me because it is a great way to help us understand our surroundings in this world and it helps me to communicate my thoughts + feeling in an abstract way. When I paint, it’s like time stands still and it becomes very meditative.

I think the greatest challenge about being a working artist in New Brunswick is that there aren’t as many gallery openings or as many networks as there are in bigger cities. I also think that the greatest challenge is also the greatest advantage in many ways. I think the forests, ocean and national parks make for incredible inspiration. We are so fortunate to be able to drive 10 – 15 minutes in any direction and be able to be by a lake, on a forest nature trail or sitting by the sea.

Collaboration has recently been playing a large role in my work. In 2021, I did a collaboration with Nova Scotia seascape artist Katharine Burns while attending Pouch Cove artist residency in Newfoundland. In 2022, I did a collaboration with New Brunswick forestscape artist Emily Phillips in Moncton. And this year I am doing a collaboration with tattoo artist Bry Simms merging abstract art, tradition Japanese dragons and bio mech. I feel like each of these collaborations was so special and it was a great way for me to connect with friends in a creative way learning about how two different styles can be merged together to form a whole new style of art.

Jared Betts‘s paintings are included in numerous corporate and private collections in Paris, Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, China, Australia and Iceland. Jared earned a BFA from NSCAD University and has presented his work in over 200 exhibitions in Tokyo, Paris, New York, London, Iceland, Germany, Costa Rica and all across Canada. He is the recipient of grants from artsnb, Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture and Heritage, and New Brunswick Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

Follow Jared’s practice:

Instagram: @jaredbetts