In the Firehouse Art Center’s upcoming main gallery exhibit, local artist Jono Wright explores what brings joy in life to Longmont residents.
“Memento Vivere” is a still life series Wright painted during his 2022 Summer Artist in Residence for the Firehouse Artist Occupied Series. The gallery runs from Sept. 9 to Oct. 2, with an opening reception during the Longmont ArtWalk this Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Wright painted still lifes of prized possessions from community members, using a small photo set up in the Firehouse studio. During his residency, Wright invited locals to bring the items they would grab if they suddenly had to flee their homes due to something out of their control, such as a natural disaster.
Community members brought in objects such as a guitar, a dog leash and a 10-year-old volunteer’s toy T-Rex. The Boulder-raised, Evergreen-based artist said working with the community to provide the subject matter allowed him to use his skills to serve.
“It freed me up in a lot of ways to just paint, you know, just to be of service,” Wright said. “One of the biggest things that I've gotten out of this is that my work can hopefully provide some benefit, or some kind of healing, or even provoke some questions in the service of the betterment of the community.”
Though Wright’s nine-piece exhibit provokes a bittersweet feeling, the concept is a more optimistic twist on the classical painting genre Memento Mori. Memento Mori is a Latin phrase meaning, remember you must die. Wright’s still life series “Memento Vivere,” means remember to live.
“I would hope that (visitors) would sort of, maybe feel a little more in touch with the things in life that inspire them to the objects, the people, the animals, the places that they hold dear and to enjoy them. And just to have some more hope, and live our lives a little more aware,” Wright said.
“Memento Vivere” is on display in the main gallery. The Firehouse South Gallery exhibit “Risky Business,” curated by Wright, also premiers Sept. 9. Artists in “Risky Business” features work from Kevin Sloan, Trine Bumiller, Ian McLaughlin, Michael A. Frazier and Melissa Furness.
An artist talk for “Memento Vivere” and “Risky Business” is scheduled for Sept. 18 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Firehouse Art Center at 667 4th Ave.