by Ken Haggerty
Walking through the Lakewood Ranch house artist Matt Pecson shares with his partner, Jennifer Carroll, is akin to an LSD-led visual explosion of Sixties culture, with a side order of contemporary tunesmiths.
Pecson’s art simply refuses to be categorized, and he is increasingly feted for his portraits of music icons such as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and BB King, along with troubadours such as Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash. And those who are fans of his work (or are merely curious) were invited to his studio recently, as a sidebar to Lakewood Ranch’s First Friday event.
Although he would never consider himself a frustrated artist, in reality Pecson’s arrival at this point in his life was less than straightforward, and involved a heavy dose of serendipity along the way. With his youthful artistic desires thwarted to an extent by parental disapproval, Pecson left his painterly aspirations behind, and became a pre-press graphic designer. But after a stay in hospital, he met Carroll, who saw an artistic soul that required some direction.
“I bought him an easel and paints,” she says. “He needed something to do.”
Pecson’s fledgling efforts at painting depicted the local flora and fauna. It wasn’t satisfying, but a visit to local second-hand LP store Vatican City Vinyl proved a happy accident that would change his professional direction. “The owners, Christian and Katelyn, asked me to paint portraits of musicians on old LPs,” he recalls. “What I painted was popular.”
With wide- ranging influences that include Asian art, abstract expressionism, and the psychedelic-inspired art of the Sixties – including the Grateful Dead concert posters – Pecson’s is an “I’ll just ride with that idea” outlook that shows no sign of slowing down.
“You could call me prolific,” he admits modestly, adding, “I guess I have a high output. It comes in waves, though. When I have a creative wave I’ll just ride it out, and keep painting. So, yes, I churn out a lot of stuff! Why, I don’t know – it just is what it is.”
Pecson suffers from Synesthesia, a condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color. “It’s not a disease,” Pecson is quick to point out. “It’s like painting while on LSD. I try to convey what I’m feeling, and what’s coming through. It’s very vibrational.”
As for his influences, he reveals that Japanese Brush Painting has left an indelible mark on his imagery. “I like raw brushstrokes, the fact that you can convey so much information in a single stroke,” he enthuses. “That’s what makes painting interesting. Even the execution of brush painting is an act of such confidence. It’s a one shot deal; a razor’s edge, a precarious balance.”
Stepping into Pecson’s garage-turned-studio, balance isn’t the first word that comes to mind. His favored tools of the trade – spray paint, paint sticks, oil paints (“Buttery paints,” he describes them as. “I like soft media.”) – are spread out haphazardly on large tables, surrounded by a cacophony of brushes, canvases, and wooden boards all ready to be exposed to his unique style.
“I’ll paint in here until I’m exhausted,” he says.
And in the background, always Hendrix.
“I warm up to Hendrix, Pecson says. “It’s usually his LP ‘Band of Gypsies.’ I play it in the studio ad nauseam!”
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