|Born in Chicago, Jack Balas earned a BFA and MFA in sculpture from Northern Illinois University. He first began painting in the 1980s and was swept away by the western landscape. Balas spent time on vacations in Colorado and fell in love with the mountain vistas. After college he moved to Los Angeles and worked as a cross-country art-shipper, driving a month-on/month-off route between California and New York that took him regularly through Scottsdale and Tucson. Eventually he moved away from sculpture and began making paintings that recreated the narrative feel of maps, annotated with numbers and texts, and brief stories with images inspired by his experiences as an art trucker.
Balas’ goal is to create transcendent images that reveal the fictions surrounding great paintings as well as speak to the present with text and mark making. His current work focuses on the depiction of athletic young men, offered as a counterpoint to the unexamined tradition of equating great painting with the female nude. Balas’ men are presented as Everyman, -- variable, philosophical, vulnerable, flexible and eager to please. The inspiration for the Everyman paintings began with a 1995 series of photographs titled STUD DUST. During 2003-04, Balas began painting in earnest while teaching figure drawing at the University of Arizona in Tucson. This experience also led a series of drawings of surfers and beach denizens, TATTOO DETOUR, made during annual visits to the beaches and Starbucks of Waikiki, Honolulu.
Balas is the recipient of a number of grants and fellowships including an Individual Fellowship in Painting from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has been shown at private galleries and museums in the United States and at the United States Embassy in Vienna, Austria.
Jack Balas’ work is in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Denver Art Museum; Tucson Museum of Art; Albuquerque Museum of Art and History; Cedar Rapids Museum of Art; University of Maine Art Museum, Bangor; and University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Balas currently divides his time between Denver and Tucson.
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