Finding art in ordinary places

Jon Naar’s work will be featured in the Art Gallery until Oct. 26. This is a piece from his collection taken in 1964 and titled Shadows of Children on Swings.

By Amanda Thorogood

After being published in Vogue, Elle and Fortune and having thousands of people flock to his shows in Paris and the Netherlands, Jon Naar is bringing the past 50 years of his work to Rider.

From Sept. 18 through Oct. 26, students can visit what Naar refers to as art that will help students see the world a little differently.

“Jon’s work is very meticulous,” said Professor Harry Naar, director of the Rider Art Gallery. “He is very perceptive and truly cares about the images he chooses to photograph.”

Harry Naar was an admirer of Jon Naar’s work for many years before finding out the two are distant cousins.

Jon Naar will display around 65 pieces of his work and the show itself will be divided into five distinct parts: Early Work; Artists and Their Environment; Design and Architecture; Work in Progress; and Graffiti. Some of the artists, designers, and other celebrities Naar has photographed include Josef Albers, Andy Warhol, Henry Moore, Marino Marini, Marcel Breuer, and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

The graffiti part of the display has been a large focus of Jon Naar’s work as of late. Recently, in Paris, he showcased numerous pieces centered on graffiti. He also penned his 12th book, The Birth of Graffiti, which will be available in the Rider bookstore.

Naar has won prestigious awards throughout his time, including the Thomas Alva Edison award for writing The Story of America. Also, his book The Faith of Graffiti is now considered an iconic collector’s item in the history of street art.

Born in England, Jon Naar said he got his first camera more than 75 years ago, and the relationship between him and the lens has flourished ever since.

What started out as a passion and a hobby evolved into a career that led him to be published in The New York Times Magazine, as well as many other magazines.

“I am always looking to find the beauty in what I am photographing,” Jon Naar said. “I usually have an idea of what I want to capture, but I always let the subjects inform me of what they want, either through their words or how they act. Even inanimate objects speak to me through art.”

Although this is the first time that Jon Naar will formally show his work at Rider, his work has passed through the hands of the Rider community before.

“For a few of the past art shows here at Rider, I had contacted Jon about taking photographs of those artists,” said Harry Naar.

Those photographs were then turned into reception cards that were passed out around campus to announce the upcoming artists and will also be displayed at Naar’s show.

“Jon chose to capture those artists in the place where they spend most of their time — their studios — to really capture a sense of who they are,” said Harry Naar, who will be conducting the event.

One part of the Rider showing that Jon Naar said he is most excited about is an artist’s talk that will take place on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.

The session will be set up like the popular show Inside the Actors Studio, “only without some of the more absurd questions,” said Harry Naar.

“I always enjoy when the artist can be surrounded by his own work during the question and answer period,” said Harry Naar. “It is a great feeling for the audience, too, to see exactly what this artist produced all around them.”

Visitors are also more than welcome to pose questions for Jon Naar, who will be on-hand to sign copies of his books.

“I have come to a lot of other artist’s talks and hope that people will come to ask me questions about whatever they are interested in,” Jon Naar said.

While he admits that the age of the digital camera has turned everyone into a budding artist, he says there is a key to taking a memorable picture.

“Follow your passion and instincts,” Jon Naar said. “Take a picture of whatever appeals to you.”

The artist’s talk with Jon Naar is Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in the BLC. The free photography exhibition will run through Oct. 26 in the Art Gallery.

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