Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

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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