This November the Davis Arts Center presents “Art Box Sculptures,” a solo exhibition featuring work by Jonathan C. Lewis that benefits the Arts Center. The exhibit includes approximately two dozen of his “boxes” — mixed-media sculptures, most contained within a box and all born of a quote.
The exhibition will also challenge the viewer to write their favorite work and enter a drawing to win one of the unsold pieces at the end of the exhibit.
“Art Box Sculptures” runs Monday, Nov. 4, through Friday, Nov. 15. The Second Friday ArtAbout reception is from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8. Lewis will be present during the free reception. All ages are welcome.
Lewis is somewhat self-deprecating when asked about his boxes. He states that it’s a misnomer to call him an artist — he considers himself a “glueist.” Lewis shares that the art world calls his boxes “mixed media” or “assemblage” and others categorize the work as “outsider” or “folk art.” The boxes have a keen aesthetic, informed by decades of involvement with the arts.
In the ’80s, he opened and curated the City Gallery in downtown Sacramento. It was also during this period that he encountered the shadow boxes of Joseph Cornell on display in the Chicago Art Institute — work he says informed his boxes many decades later.
Each box is born of a statement. The sources are wide and varied – from Michelle Obama, Paul McCartney and Gabby Douglas to Cassia Leo and Friedrich Nietzsche. Jonathan uses the statement as the basis of the resulting work. He starts arranging found objects in and around the base box.
He shares that he has a large collection of “found ephemera, salvage or reclaimed objects which means that many days of the week I can be found rummaging through junkyards, thrift shops, yard sales and the occasional antique collectables fair.”
Many of the boxes are infused with his quick wit and humor – others are somber with the juxtaposition of objects forcing one to question the historic roles played by culture, politics and society.
There is yet another level of Lewis being a “glueist,” and that is in his professional life. Jonathan is a lifelong social justice activist and accomplished social entrepreneur who brings together people and ideas to improve the world. He is the founder of MCE Social Capital, a social venture organization that leverages $110 million of private capital to finance tiny business loans to deeply impoverished people, mostly women, in 46 developing countries.
Lewis is also the co-founder of Copia Global, an Amazon-like consumer catalog serving the base of the economic pyramid in Kenya. He is the founder and president of the Opportunity Collaboration, an annual strategic business retreat for 500 senior-level and anti-poverty leaders from around the world. He is also the author of “The Unfin sh d Social Entrepreneur.”
Visit his website to see and learn more about his work.