Friday, March 6, 2015

Jonathan Sweangen: Window Art Made Meaningful

I wanted to introduce you to a most unusual artist -- his specialty is 'repurposed' art. 

Jonathan Sweangen is a window artist, by trade -- in fact, that's how I met him first. He and his son replaced our old, crappy windows with energy-efficient ones. (Did a good job, too.)

Jonathan has been doing this as a business for decades. But he admired the look and architectural detail of the vintage and antique frames he took out of older homes. Normally they were discarded. Couldn't they be used for another purpose?

Note the arrowheads in the corners. Jonathan's distinctive signature -- a braided rope link -- is at bottom right.

An inveterate packrat, he'd collected file drawers full of vintage and antique ephemera, including postcards, photos, newspaper articles, sheet music, postage stamps and stickers, etc.. Couldn't those be used in a collage that literally frames itself?

     They could...and he did.

This is the backside of the Indian piece shown above
He enjoys doing two-sided pieces, as well as more conventional (if you can call it that) one-sided ones, like the advertising piece shown below. (This one caused a real buzz at a fundraiser I attended recently.)

Crave Magazine recently did an interview with Jonathan. Find out more about his unique approach there. I've now seen dozens of Jonathan's pieces; all have a graphic cultural connection that is fascinating. How often can you enjoy art with a historical connection, as well...

Jonathan's work reminds me of the collage boxes done by Joseph Cornell. ('Assemblage,' some call it.) They have that sense of mystery, layers of meaning that gradually peel themselves back, the more you look. These window art pieces also have a strong textural feel, in part to carefully preserving the finish and sash pieces of the original windows.

They're quirky but brilliant, rich in color and wonderful to study. I now own two of Jonathan's pieces -- one of them the Indian piece in this post. One is in our hallway, the other displayed in a window. I seem to notice something new in them every day.

Here are two of his newest pieces: In Tepee Land --

Yes, that's Jonathan -- at a jobsite. (I'd stopped by.)

And my personal favorite: a riff centered on autumn, sailing... and the Titanic.

If you'd like to know more, you can contact Jonathan at
                 He's working on a website to offer his work.

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