We had the good fortune of connecting with John Randall Nelson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi John Randall, what are you inspired by?

What am I inspired by? Well most of my current paintings and sculptures are inspired by ancient and modern symbolism.
 Some 20,000 years ago people began to draw patterns and symbols. Like a written or spoken language those ancient petroglyphs infer meaning. They speak to us without words or grammar. My work reflects a fascination with my connection to those earliest expressions.
Then, in regard to the art making process, I’ve found that my best work comes when I‘m just playing with ideas and materials. Free-play is to improvise with words, paint, steel, fabric, whatever. I never know exactly how a painting will turn out and that mystery is also a form of inspiration. Intuition keeps the momentum going. By letting go, you occupy a space open to possibilities–a great space to be inspired.
All of my artwork is mixed-media, mostly depicting symbols or words. A mix of media is the best way to set-up the play between contrary ideas. The play between painting and collage, the play between words and symbols, creates a mashup of imagined elements and elements collected from the real world.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Actually, I’ve been busy with Public Art projects. This year I finished Cairns Garden, a  Public/Private project commissioned by the City of Tempe and Hilton Hotels. Cairns Garden depicts the shifting views of a desert trail. Inspired by the history engraved landscape, nine sculptures and a dozen paintings depict a Nelson version of the local desert and the language of ancient civilizations. The installation is located on University Drive close to Mill Avenue. I’ve been living and working in that neighborhood for the past 20 years.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, first I would take them to the Canopy Hilton Tempe. There is some wonderful art being shown there and the food’s pretty good too.  Then just down the block is the Art Museum at the Nelson Fine Arts Center, on ASU’s Tempe campus. A perfect art evening!
There’s so much energy coming from the studios and galleries throughout the Phoenix art scene. New gallerists, new curators and new artists are keeping the energies humming. Downtown, my favorite spots are Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue. In 2013, Joe Willie Smith, Allen Jones and I formed a noise band called Bucky’s Experimental Instrumentations, we used to play every Monday night at Carly’s Bistro on Roosevelt. Carly’s is always a good spot to meet up with friends.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve been represented by some wonderful gallerists, so I would give a shout out to Bill Lykins at Gebert Contemporary in Scottsdale, he’s been showing and selling my work for a long time. His support and the support of the Gebert family has been wonderful.

Website: whonelson@cox.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whonelson

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