ian McNultyThe quest for the right place to make art has taken photographer and painter John Patrick Salisbury from northern California to Los Angeles to New York and finally to rural Louisiana. His search for art-making supplies, however, often takes him to Home Depot.
Though he first made a name for himself with conventional black and white photography—including a haunting study of his two young cousins collected in the 1996 book “Drew and Jimmy”— Salisbury’s subsequent work is remarkable for its refusal to stand still, moving through an evolution of modes, techniques and materials.
Today, his photography (see p. 69) is defined by large panels, often three or more making up a single image, all attached to special display brackets Salisbury designed himself to hold the works out from the wall and add another dimension of light and space to the work. Meanwhile, his painting takes an abstract turn with themes of fluidity and topography using multiple layers of texture. Urethane is a key material, as are epoxy, wood glue, wax, seeds, nails, plaster, tape—even insects that might
land on a wet surface.
“The photography is very demanding, technically and with all the materials involved,” Salisbury says. “So the painting is a reaction to that. It can be total chaos. I go to the hardware store and grab whatever I want and do it.”
Raised on a working farm in Walnut Grove, Calif., Salisbury was interested in art from a young age but decided to make a life of it after the car accident that killed his younger brother Burton. His brother’s memory was the inspiration for “Drew and Jimmy” and the book opened many doors for him to professional photography.
In Los Angeles, he landed jobs photographing celebrities and shooting album cover art, including one assignment for the debut album of the then-unknown singer Alanis Morisette.
Salisbury moved to New York but craved more room and a more lush setting as his work grew in scale and scope. He and his young family bought a home in Folsom the summer before Hurricane Katrina.
“Coming to New Orleans was like a dream come true. I had an immediate affinity for this place, more than I’ve ever experienced anywhere else,” he says.
While he continues painting, Salisbury’s photography has entered a new phase with a concept he has dubbed DM4/Convergence, with large panels of photographic images positioned in a variety of angles with each other to make a complete work. He takes a philosophical approach to the format, describing the components as different planes of reality intersecting each other.
To see Salisbury’s work, go to his Web site, www.johnpatricksalisbury.com.