(This painting was 20 feet tall and located in Goodyear, Arizona, about 10 miles West of Phoenix on Highway 10. It was commissioned by the Duncan Family Farms as a ‘marker’ for travellers to spot before taking the next exit to their educational farm that closed in 2004.)
After graduating from Cal State Long Beach in 1984, John Cerney embarked on a career initially as a portrait artist and then as a muralist and sign painter in his native Salinas Valley, California.
In 1995, he created a series of 10 large fieldworkers (18 feet tall) for a local farmer who wanted to pay tribute to the agricultural labor force.
He then had his Satori moment.
Striking out from his large mural paintings like the winery above, John Cerney began to abandon the traditional grounds for his paintings and focussed his art onto large cutout billboards that utilised the natural environment for backgrounds.
He stayed grounded to his locality in the Salinas Valley and his farmer clients happily accepted the new direction he wanted to pursue.
And this is what he went on to produce.
Cerney’s brand of extraordinary vision was bound to attract the attention of art galleries sooner or later, even though he himself has studiously avoided giving himself or his work any high art credentials.
So the Rice Gallery in Houston, Texas (They like things that are BIG in Texas) has organised a show called “Big Landscape, Big West” featuring Cerney’s work.
The show runs from the 9th of November to the 11th of December 2006.
As a backdrop for his enormous paintings, Cerney has painted a hommage to an early American landscape painter called Thomas Moran (1837-1926)
who also liked to big it up.
There’s a six minute video of John Cerney’s work on YouTube, and what comes over strongly (for me at least) is his total lack of art-speak bullshit. He’s an utterly straightforward person going about his art work with amazing vision.