When a boy sails across the ocean from conservative Surrey, England into 1958 Beat Generation Los Angeles, there's a strong likelihood that he'll grow up to become an artist. When he relocates to Cape Cod, there's a pretty good chance that his artwork will be transformed.
John Lumkin's assemblage art style emerged from these journeys. As a boy he experimented with watercolors, drawing, and guitar playing in a Southern California rock band. After eye-opening forays into graphic design for album covers and set designing/building for music videos and TV commercials, Lumkin introduced his own art. It has grown until nowadays it's a Dada-inspired social commentary on America. He has combed construction sites, flea markets and nature spots for signature artifacts such as metal, old car parts, retail displays and 40's and 50's advertising; things that had a life prior to being discarded. He assembles them as part of a story.
Post-war ads, illustrations, and graphica accompany the relics onto a new surface. Lumkin uses either a Gesso or a solvent transfer process. He applies a film of Gesso or secret solvent onto an image, and the ink forms a waterproof bond to the panel. Lumkin then rummages through his barn until he finds the appropriate pieces for his works, unless they have already selected themselves. He uses fasteners of all archival types, except welding; every piece must fit perfectly naturally with the intricacy of a mosaic.
"I have a barn full of artifacts," he said. "I prowl around abandoned areas or go to yard sales and find, to my mind, treasures. Once, these discards had a life and a purpose. Look at this "Suburban" logo that the scrap yard gave me. Originally one of thousands through mass-production, it now becomes one-of-a-kind in my new contexts. Every object is given a new and multi-layered scenario. How many memories and conversations are triggered by unique logos and icons from childhood? These images gave people a doorway into my art."
"My art is constructionist in that I provide many layers for exploration; emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and what I hope is a beautiful and clever setting. People connect to it in various ways. They may reflect on choices, memories, hopes and dreams or cultural triggers."
Lumkin was a featured artist in Cape Cod Life Arts Edition, Summer/Fall 2007. "Now that I am on the Cape, my artwork has been incorporating sea glass, maps, diagrams of sea-life and unknown wood forms." To tie all this together, Lumkin will sometimes pour 30 layers of paint or rusty water around and through images and objects. The antiquity of the Cape is clearly seen in Lumkin's work."
It's important how his art is displayed, so Lumkin frequently customizes homes and offices to accommodate a piece. It is a skill he learned builing sets and furniture for Hollywood. "I've reworked many interiors so as to properly showcase a piece."
Harvest Gallery Wine Bar features many of Lumkin's pieces. Owner Michael Pearson says, "John's work is about roads taken or not taken either individually or as a society."