About Jack Ramsey and his paintings - by John Stienbeck

It is almost impossible to translate painting into words because painting itself is a language. Perhaps this is why so much futile and confusing nonsense is written about art. Often it is the critics rather than the painters who are responsible for the obscurities. A painting can and must speak for itself, and in its own tongue.

Here are some pictures by my friend and neighbor, Jack Ramsey. They are not at all alike. What are they about? They are about everything - the observed world moulded and recreated by the mind, the emotions, and the imagination of the artist. That’s what painting is and that’s all it is. But, as with all art, the observer or the receiver must contribute his attention, and if possible his understanding if he is to be rewarded. His reward will be in direct relation to the quality of his understanding.

There is no easy modern short-cut to painting. It can’t be coached nor rigged nor bribed nor bought. It must be honest or its treason shouts from the canvas. Also it must be the child of wonder and curiosity and energy and high devotion. Without these, it is a fake.

It has been my privilege to watch my friends, Jack and Daga, reduce the world to its ingredients of light, color, form and their relationships, and then rebuilding them with the tools of mind, imagination and unrelenting discipline until what sometimes emerges is new and wonderful, for painting is creation in its truest sense. Something exists that did not exist before: a drop of water swells to a universe, the splash of sun on the curved shoulder of a bottle explodes to an ecstasy.

The viewer is not required to LIKE a painting any more than he must love any world. But, if he can see and feel the creative joy, and sometimes despair, the probing experiment with shape and pigment, with distance and bulk, the colors lacing in and out like the harmonies and discords of music, he will be hearing the language of painting.

To me these pictures seethe with life and growth. They are not complete. No art ever is unless it is dead. But each work is a brave becoming, a sharp question, an exploration in the little known countries of the world and the mind.

In this time of mass produced things and people, far too many cover themselves with the garments of conformity and seek safety in the shallow tepid waters of mediocrity. Therefore it is a great joy to me to hear the language of one who dives deep and takes his chances and who seeks in the outlands of his mind and spirit without fear of what he will find.

If I should not look and try to see in order to be aware of the language of these pictures, I would be robbing only myself, and that would be stupid. I look at painting and try to understand what it says before I feel competent to agree or disagree with its communication.

-by John Steinbeck

Click here to see Jack's paintings.

Jack Ramsey was born in Fort Worth, Texas. He attended school in both, Dallas and Stephenville Texas before moving to the northeastern United States. While living in New York City he pursued a career as an actor.

After leaving acting, he began painting. He studied at the National Academy of Design and The Art Student's League in New York City. Jack received his B.F.A. and M.F.A. in painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield, Michigan. He spent the following years teaching at the Museum of Modern Art (Moma) in New York City.  

He was also the Head of the art department at Atlanta College of Art in Georgia. While living in Georgia he also taught in his own Ramsey Workshop of Art. He then moved back to Long Island, New York, where he taught painting and drawing at the Guild Hall Museum located in East Hampton, New York, as well as the Parrish Art Museum, in South Hampton, N.Y. At this time, Jack had his own Studio/Workshop in Sag Harbor where he resided with Swedish Born artist, Daga Ramsey. 

In 1995 Jack returned to Texas and to the hill country. He now resides in Kerrville. Since moving back to Kerrville, Jack is represented by Kirchman Gallery in Johnson City, Texas.

Beach Chairs