Jon Coffelt

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1991 Absolut Vodka ad by Coffelt

Johnny Lee Coffelt born (May 16,1963) in Dunlap Tennessee is an American artist who lives and works in Manhattan in the Financial District of New York City. He lived in Birmingham from 1984 to 2002. Coffelt paints, sculpts, sews, makes artist's books.<ref>Susan Hensel Gallery, Image containing several examples of Coffelt’s book work. </ref> and curates art exhibitions.


Coffelt was born to Dorcas Ann (née Shadrick) and John Henry Coffelt and has two sisters, Joanna and Janie. Coffelt was raised in the East Tennessee mountains in the town of Palmer and the community of Griffith Creek near Whitwell, Tennessee. Coffelt has been painting since he was eight years old. It was his grandfather, John Ervin Coffelt who taught him how to paint.<ref>Coffelt's background</ref> Coffelt still considers himself a colorist.<ref>USA Today, Jon Coffelt. January 17,1992 p. 6 worldwide release</ref> Carl Alton Shadrick, Coffelt's maternal grandfather, was known regionally as a designer and maker of fine furniture. Coffelt has been painting since he was eight years old. It was his grandfather who taught him how to work in this medium. Coffelt still considers himself a colorist.

Coffelt started out in the fashion industry designing clothing as well as fabric for Willi Smith in the 1980s. <ref>1985-1986 </ref> Once he decided to devote his full energies to art he was commissioned by Jim Mitchell to paint over 100 works for the Parisian Department Store chain <ref>Commissioned paintings for Parisian Department Stores</ref> which helped launch his career as an artist. In 1987, He met Shawn Boley who is his long-term partner. In 1989 Coffelt received "Outstanding Ten Year Alumnus Award" from Southern Institute. Coffelt was the inaugural artist at Space One Eleven founded by Anne Arrasmith and Peter Prinz, when it opened in 1989 in Birmingham, Alabama<ref> James R. Nelson, "Space One Eleven is Important Addition to Arts Scene," Birmingham News, Birmingham, AL, November 29, 1987: pg. 6F </ref>.

In 1991 Coffelt was commissioned by Absolut Vodka to kick off its "Absolut Statehood" campaign representing the state of Alabama; the result was shown in a full-page ad in USA Today, Time<ref> Time, ad February 14, 1994 </ref>, Genre, Out and Science Digest among others. Coffelt, 28 years old at the time, was the youngest artist ever commissioned by Absolut Vodka.<ref>Ruth Beumont Reuse, “Absolut Coffelt,” Birmingham Magazine, February 1992. page 19</ref> Other work by Coffelt is also included in the Absolut Museet collection of contemporary art in Stockholm, Sweden.<ref>Absolut Museet info</ref> From 1993 until 2001 Coffelt, along with his partner Shawn Boley and their friend Janet Hughes, owned and operated Agnes, a gallery devoted to socially aware photography, short film/video and book arts.

From 1994-1996, Coffelt served as editor and publisher of Alabama Art Monthly,<ref>"4/5/06 - 4/29/06 - Jon Coffelt" </ref> a monthly art magazine he founded which was the first art magazine in the state.Template:Fact In 2002 Coffelt closed the gallery in order to move to New York and give his own art undivided attention. Over the last several years his work has been shown in Atlanta<ref>Catherine Fox,The Art of Enlightenment, Atlanta Journal/Constitution, Altanta GA June 1, 2003</ref>, Birmingham<ref>Schedler/Minchin, Birmingham AL</ref>, Boston, Charleston<ref>Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston SC</ref> Chattanooga, Los Angeles, Miami<ref>The Longest Winter, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL</ref>, Minneapolis, Mobile<ref>The Vanguard, Space 301, Mobile, AL</ref> , Nashville, New Orleans, New York City<ref>Gallery Guide New York, NY</ref>, Philadelphia<ref>Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia, PA</ref>, San Francisco<ref>Bryant Street Gallery, San Francisco, CA</ref>, Barcelona<ref>Art Info, Art Fairs Europe 2004</ref>, London<ref>Laserhouse Gallery, Leonard on Sea, London UK</ref>, Mexico City, Montreal<ref>Gallerie Gora, Montreal, Quebec Canada</ref> and Tokyo.<ref>Solomon Projects Atlanta, GA</ref>

From 1993 until 2001 Coffelt, with partner Shawn Boley and Jan Hughes, owned and operated Agnes, a gallery devoted to socially aware photography, short film/video and book arts.

In 1999 Coffelt was chosen to be part of an exhibit at The Birmingham Museum of Art called "Galore: The Continuous Painting Wall" which was curated by David Moos. Other artists who participated in this exhibit include Lydia Dona, Dennis Hollingsworth, Ingo Meller, Thomas Nozkowski, and Leslie Wayne. In 2002 Coffelt received the "City of Birmingham Distinguished Artist Award" at the Magic City Art Connection. Moos wrote the foreword for the published festival guide.

The same year, Coffelt's work was selected to be part of "The Longest Winter" curated by Gean Moreno for Florida Atlantic University along with works by Westen Charles, Udomsak Krisanamis, Vincent Fecteau, Sam Gordon, Anne Howard, Genie Kell, Robert Melee and Darío Robleto.

Coffelt has evolved from painting in a minimalist, op art vein to creating collages using duct tape and vellum. His newest work is a series of full-size motorcycles in polyurethane resin to look like huge chunks of Jolly Rancher candy each in a different flavor/color.

Coffelt is included in many prestigious public and private collections including American Express, ASCAP, Birmingham International Airport, Birmingham Museum of Art, Capitol Records, Lord International US Headquarters, Mercedes Corp, Progressive Insurance, Saks Fifth Avenue, Southern Living, and many others.

In 2007 Clayton Colvin curated Art and Place II: Material at Hand for Center for the Living Arts/Space 301 featuring the work of Coffelt and nine other artists. This exhibition deals with the influence that a sense of place can have on the artist. The focus here lies in the significance of medium in artists' work "and how their chosen media may also function as the content or the subject. "Art and Place II: Material at Hand for Center for the Living Arts/Space 301, Mobile, Alabama".

On January 31, 2008, Ten Cubed of "Second Life" launched its inaugural exhibition, Crossing the Void II. Owner and curator Shaughnessy selected five artists working in and with modern technologies. These artists included Coffelt along with Chris Ashley from Oakland, CA, Claire Keating from Cork, Ireland, Scott Kildall from San Francisco, CA and Nathaniel Stern originally from New York, NY now in Dublin, Ireland.

As a curator, Coffelt has produced notable solo and group shows.

  • In 2005 he curated "Going Within" on behalf of Visual AIDS. The exhibition included works by Barton Lidice Benes, Robert Blanchon, Bruce Wesley Boyce, Feliz Gondalez-Torres, David Krueger, Chuck Nanney, David Nelson, Eric Rhein, Clifford Smith, Paul Thek, Nora Wallower, Bruce William Witsiepe and David Wojnarowicz.
  • In 2006 he curated an exhibit of drawings, paintings, collages, installations and photographs entitled "Contour: The Definitive Line" for Schedler Minchin Gallery in Homewood Alabama. Artists included were Sara Garden Armstrong, Steve Baris, Luis Carle, Travis Childers, Clayton Colvin, Jacob Hill Grad, Louis Hill, Lee Isaacs, Antjuan Oden, Amy Pleasant, Eric Rhein, Jessica Rosner, Virginia Scruggs, Joel Seah, Yuko Shimizu, Sean Slemon, and J. M. Walker.
  • Janet Hassinger and Jon Coffelt co-curated The Book "ever after" for College of the Mainland Fine Arts Gallery, Texas City, Texas in 2007. This artist book exhibition consisted of 38 selected artists and was utilized as an overview starting from the beginning of the book arts movement with works by Ed Ruscha, John Cage, Yoko Ono and Dieter Roth to contemporary works by Pinky Bass, Coffelt, and Mary Ann Sampson.

Money, Men & Mischief by was curated by Coffelt in the Fall of 2008. Gilbert designed and had printed a "Zero Dollar." The exhibition was timely in nature due to the fact that it coincided with the Wall Street financial meltdown and Gilbert's giveaway of 10,000 of these zero dollars she created. It was covered in more than 200 newspapers across the United States including articles in The Washington Post <ref>The Washington Post November 07, 2008 </ref> and The New York Times <ref>The New York Times November 05, 2008 </ref> and was covered by Jeanne Moos of CNN.


  • O'Brien, Glenn (1991) Absolut Statehood: 51 Painters' Visions of Their Home States. Teaneck, New Jersey: Carillon Importers. ISBN 0893815632


  • LeGrand, Lissa (April 2006) "Interview with Jon Coffelt" for WBHM's Tapestry program.
  • Moos, David (2000) "Twists on Domesticity." Catalog. Birmingham: Space One Eleven.
  • Coffelt, Jon (2005) "Curator's Statement" for "Going Within" exhibit at Visual AIDS - accessed May 12, 2007
  • Coffelt, Jon (2006) "Curatorial Statement" for "Contour: The Definitive Line" exhibit at Amanda Schedler Fine Art - accessed May 12, 2007
  • Nelson, James R. (March 22, 2001) "Works of 2 Contemporary Artists Make for Fascinating Show." Birmingham News.
  • Raabe, Nancy (February 25, 2001) "An Artist's View of Art, Life, and Inspiration." Birmingham News.

External links