John James Pron
John James Pron
Images of my most recent solo show, titled “Philly and Me: for better or worse, for richer or poorer…” (Cerulean Arts Gallery, July 2023) are submitted here. As a (mostly) lifelong Philadelphian, I explored aspects of the city that I love just as they are as well as serious concerns that I worry about. I look at its grand (albeit checkered) history and present ideas and images for its future. As an architect and teacher and concerned citizen, scissor in hand, pencils fully sharpened–it is a graphic letter to civic officials.
My particular “take” on collaging is to juxtapose contemporary photos or archival prints of the city and its activities with my hand-drawn perspectives and renderings. B&W vs color—point/counterpoint. Beyond creating compelling images that have an emotional punch, I feel it is important (as an architect who teaches the ethical responsibility to use one’s talents to make better communities) to now use my compositional and drawing skills to raise awarenesses of the critical issues affecting human lives, even advocating for significant social changes.
The collages are small but intricately detailed. One needs to contemplate up close. And as an architect would need to explain the idea to the public, the collages are accompanied by explanatory texts (not here): what is the theme? what am I appreciating or warning about, what am I dead serious about or making sarcastic fun of? I insist that the viewer–which is any and all other Philadelphians, react. Attached here are 5 images of the 20 in the show.
I am an architect by profession (with a MArch degree from the University of Pennsylvania (where I also minored in art)), an emeritus professor of architecture from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and I am an artist displaying my collages and drawings for the past 25 years in the city’s art scene. I have been a member of the 3rd Street Gallery on Second Street from 1997 until 2017, of the DaVinci Art Alliance (DVAA) from 2000 to the present, and of the Cerulean Arts Gallery from 2022 to the present…all in Philadelphia. In addition to group shows and invitationals at many regional art centers and galleries, I have had solo or two-person shows at an average of one every other year–my most recent one is the twelfth. I have juried awards and recognitions from a number of institutions, and two sabbaticals from the university to set up a studio in Italy. My artistic pursuits alternate between two cities–Philadelphia and Rome, while my academic expertise centers on the Adaptive Reuse of existing buildings and settings–preserving their essential “soul” while adapting them to contemporary usage–an amalgam of teaching architectural history with contemporary design studios. New/old juxtapositions are the foundation of my interest in collage.