Letters

Letters 08-29-2016

Religious Bigotry President Obama has been roundly criticized for his apparent unwillingness to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” His critics seem to suggest that through the mere use of that terminology, the defeat of ISIS would be assured...

TC DDA: Focus On Your Mission What on earth is the Traverse City DDA thinking? Purchasing land around (not within) its TIF boundaries and then offering it at a discount to developers? That is not its mission. Sadly enough, it is already falling down on the job regarding what is its mission. Crosswalks are deteriorating all around downtown, trees aren’t trimmed, sidewalks are uneven. Why can’t the DDA do a better job of maintaining what it already has? And still no public restrooms downtown, despite all the tax dollars captured since 1997. What a joke...

European-Americans Are Boring “20 Fascinating People” in northern Michigan -- and every single one is European-American? Sorry, but this is journalistically incorrect. It’s easy for editors to assign and reporters to write stories about people who are already within their personal and professional networks. It’s harder to dig up stuff about people you don’t know and have never met. Harder is better...

Be Aware Of Lawsuit While most non-Indians were sleep walking, local Odawa leaders filed a lawsuit seeking to potentially have most of Emmet County and part of Charlevoix County declared within their reservation and thus under their jurisdiction. This assertion of jurisdiction is embedded in their recently constructed constitution as documentation of their intent...

More Parking Headaches I have another comment to make about downtown TC parking following Pat Sullivan’s recent article. My hubby and I parked in a handicap spot (with a meter) behind Mackinaw Brew Pub for lunch. The handicap spot happens to be 8-10 spaces away from the payment center. Now isn’t that interesting...

Demand Change At Women’s Resource Center Change is needed for the Women’s Resource Center for the Grand Traverse Area (WRCGT). As Patrick Sullivan pointed out in his article, former employees and supporters don’t like the direction WRCGT has taken. As former employees, we are downright terrified at the direction Juliette Schultz and Ralph Soffredine have led the organization...

Home · Articles · News · Art · Justin Toomey Offers Unschooled Art...
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Justin Toomey Offers Unschooled Art with a Sense of Heart

Robert Downes - April 3rd, 2003
Northern Michigan‘s art scene often seems more intent on pleasing tourists than on making great statements or seeking new visions: paintings of old barns, sunsets, flowers and pastoral fields are as common as dandelions in local galleries.
But not so with the works of Justin Toomey, a young self-taught artist whose thought-provoking acrylic paintings will be exibited at Jacob‘s Well, a youth club in Traverse City, from April 7-30. Toomey‘s paintings are inspired by religion, conflict, the subsconscious, history, tragedy and love -- in short, many of the things that spark up the viewer‘s neurons to ponder the meaning of our time here on earth.
For instance, he‘s presently working on a painting, “Anthem of the Disabled“ about a paraplegic friend and the tragic accident which left her in a wheelchair. The painting captures the shock and pain of the event, while preserving the woman‘s keen sense of humanity. Another painting of a pig-headed, all-powerful being offers a jarring viewpoint on religion.
Toomey, 22, has had a life as unusual as his work. He is self-educated, for instance, in both the arts as well as the general sense.
“I had no formal education,“ he says. “I was pulled out of school when I was eight due to the high crime rate in Flint -- out of 300 kids in school, I was the only white student and I ran into problems. So I studied art, math and science at home on my own. There were no rules about it -- I‘m planning to get my GED, but I don‘t know if I need it. I have no urge to get accreditation.“
Lack of a formal education seems to have been no stumbling block for Toomey, who converses at a high level on the arts, history and other subjects. A sous chef at Lulu‘s Bistro in Bellaire, he‘s planning to go to northern Italy to live this fall to pursue his interest in art and history.
“I‘m really going for the experience,“ he says. “I want to see the death camps of Austria and Poland. I want to pay my respects -- there‘s a lot of history and disused energy there and I‘ve always been interested in history.“
Toomey took up painting four years ago after a long-time interest in doodling with a pen. Painting was a spontaneous thing that replaced a passion for mathematics and science. Today, he considers himself “more an expressionist than an artist“ and notes that “human triumph and failure are always good to take in“ as subjects.
Raised an atheist, Toomey has an outsider‘s interest in religion. “I‘m not myself an atheist, but I‘m not a Christian either,“ he says. “I‘ve been reading the Bible and there are a lot of metaphors in it. A lot of people take it as the literal truth, but you have to use it as lessons -- metaphors scrambled by man. In some ways, my paintings are trying to explain it better.“
When Toomey paints, he looks for undertones in his subject which give a clue to their experience, such as the knee surgery scar on a dancer. “I‘m looking for a little piece of their mentality,“ he says.
“I‘d like to go into fine art someday, but I need to know how to paint first,“ he adds. “Maybe someday I‘ll be a portrait artist. When I paint, people give me 50 percent of themselves and I give them 50 percent. A lot of artists paint people to thier likeness, but I look for something behind their eyes.“

Jacob‘s Well is located across from the Grand Traverse Civic Center near the corner of Front and Garfield. Justin Toomey will exhibit 15-20 of his paintings there from April 7-30.
 
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