Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

From screenplay to painting: alum reveals stories behind latest art exhibition

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Artist Jason Archer poses for a portrait in his Austin studio on June 25, 2024.

After receiving a bachelor’s in advertising and moving to New York, one UT alumnus met the Big Apple’s illustrious skyline and decided he did not belong there. 

“New York is one of the most populated cities in the world, but also one of the loneliest places,” Jason Archer said. “I always felt like Austin was my home. The people here, I naturally have something in common with them.” 

Archer, class of 1996, said he relocated back to Austin in 2000, channeling his energy into screenwriting in 2005. Archer later reformatted his original screenplay characters into recurring subjects in his paintings and blended them with Texan cultural elements. His recent exhibition at Commerce Gallery in historic downtown Lockhart, TX from May 3 to June 2 showcased 18 new creations. 

“A lot of people see them and say, ‘That reminds me of the painting hanging above my grandmother’s couch I would see when I would visit her as a child,’” Archer said. “I’m playing off this memory people have of their loved ones in addition to creating this modern component that sits on top of it.”

Archer said he used thrifted paintings as canvases in his latest gallery to bring new perspectives to old art pieces. Commerce Gallery, which displays contemporary paintings focusing on West Texas art, most recently showcased Archer’s work alongside fellow creator Adde Russell’s latest pieces.

“This gallery has done well because (the owners) built a foundation of authenticity where there is a sophistication to the gallery, but it’s not stuffy and pretentious like the stereotype of an art gallery,” assistant director Caroline Frost said. “Their heart is in it and they love these artists.”

True to the gallery’s mission, Archer showcased pieces featuring recurring characters based on his Texan upbringing: Jesus Cornbread and the Alcoholics, a reimagined version of Jesus and the Disciples as a band of mischievous yet good-natured rednecks led by their fearless tequila-drinking leader. 

“I believe in helping other people when they need it,” Archer said. “That’s what Jesus Cornbread represents, this mentor archetype that can guide you through a time in your life where you really need it.”

In addition to showcasing his art in galleries, Archer also owns Show Goat Mural Works, crafting large-scale art pieces for local businesses with co-owner Josh Row. Row said Archer stands out as the more charismatic and tenacious of the duo.

“He’s a lot more personable than I am, he’s the face of the business,” Row said. “A lot of the (business) professionalism is due to his whip-cracking ability.” 

Venturing past his latest project, Archer said he cannot predict his next creative phase, but with a paintbrush in hand and a story in mind, there is no telling what pieces he may conjure next. In the meantime, the artist’s current works are displayed on his website and online shop.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a complete departure (from) what I’m doing now,” Archer said. “I like to layer things and pull them apart and put them back together to give texture and depth. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out by the end of the summer.”

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