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“Commuter Love” by John Bonner. Courtesy photo.




See “Crowd Source” and meet John Bonner

Where: McGowan Fine Art, 10 Hills Ave., Concord
When: On view Feb. 27 through March 27; reception Friday, Feb. 27, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Contact: mcgowanfineart.com, 225-2515




Everyday places
Bonner’s subways, bus stations and Market Baskets

02/26/15
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



John Bonner likes to paint things most people wouldn’t consider interesting — things they see every day and take for granted.

In his most recent show at McGowan Fine Art, “Crowd Source,” he re-interpreted those places people go all the time — the subway, bus stations, supermarkets, cafes and fast food joints.
“I started painting pictures of places where people congregate,” Bonner said during a phone interview last week. “We don’t really see these places when we look at them. … We just kind of go into them. We don’t really think about how bizarre they are — a supermarket, for example, with lanes of food and computers, is an odd visual thing, but we see it every day, so we don’t notice it.”
McGowan Fine Art gallery director Sarah Chaffee says that, compared to Bonner’s past work at the gallery, these pieces have a more “painterly” quality to them. The strokes are broad and seem to simplify otherwise very complex compositions. 
“The paintings are sort of about the images you’re seeing, but they’re also about walking up close and seeing the variety of interesting strokes and abstract shapes,” Bonner said. “I think there’s a kind of magic that happens with the paint.”
Not only are the acrylic images thick with people, but many, like “Fast Food,” contain window reflections. While you’re looking at people munching on burgers and french fries from outside through a window, you can also see parking lot cars, or maybe even Bonner taking a photo with his iPhone 4, which he brings everywhere and refers to when he paints.
“That’s what’s so fantastic about new technology,” said Bonner, who used to have to sketch his subjects and places before they went to canvas.  “If I came in with a huge Nikon camera, I would draw quite a bit of attention, but with an iPhone, you can’t tell if I’m taking a selfie or taking pictures of people.”
It isn’t as creepy as it sounds — though one of his friends once looked at a painting and said, “I know that guy!” there aren’t enough details for any of Bonner’s characters to actually look like someone. In fact, he typically uses many shots and sometimes video stills before he commits to a composition. It’s much easier than carrying around a sketchbook.
“I’m not using their actual likeness. I just want to capture something naturally. I don’t want people to pose, and with the photographs, you might think there’s nothing really interesting about them, but my job is to take them and use them as a reference.”
He was particularly intrigued by the Market Basket feud, and his two supermarket paintings in the show, “American Supermarket” and “Buying Food,” pay homage to the New England business.
It’s possible Bonner finds these places interesting because he didn’t grow up here; sure, he’s been in New England practically since 1981, which might make him “fully Americanized,” he joked, but he was born and raised overseas in England.
“Of course, it isn’t [new] anymore, but I think there’s a sensibility there. The place you grew up, you can completely take for granted, but at the place you go to, you see more,” Bonner said. 
 
As seen in the February 26, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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