The artist Jody Fallon

As a former Marine and member of a rural community that’s faced many hardships, expressionist artist Jody Fallon has seen his share of suffering and strength. That comes through in the desolate landscapes and tortured forms he commits to canvas.

Piercing, tender and often hellish, Jody’s work is soulful and enigmatic.

Remarkably, Jody does not sketch or map out his compositions. Rather, he paints spontaneously, drawing from a deep well of inspiration from fantasy and science fiction art as well as a firm conviction that he’s meant to paint.

As the emotional landscape around us feels especially bleak, I contacted Jody to get his perspective on these dark times. I was suprised by his message of hope.

You live in rural Central Pennsylvania. How has your daily life changed since the spread of Covid-19?

Not much has changed for me personally.

The only things that open are essential business. no bars or restaurants, so there is no real opportunity to socialize with anyone. So if anything that’s the only real change not being able to go out and have a laugh from time to time to blow off steam.

Around Midnight by Jody Fallon

According to your bio, you spent much of your childhood exploring the dark fields, hills and mountains of central Pennsylvania. And you still live in an isolated area. Do you feel better prepared for a period of isolation? Is that actually your preferred state? Or does living in a less populous area feel more desolate at this time?

I like living out here in solitude. We’re not too far away from anywhere that we can’t just get out if we we want to. On the other hand we’re far enough out that people think twice about just popping in, which is nice.

Our neighbors have 600 acres of undeveloped land that I can wander and take my 2 boys out and let them explore.

It’s nice out here and I really don’t have to see anyone unless I want to. Which is also nice. So maybe we are a bit more prepared for isolation compared to someone else.

You were in the United States Marine Corps for four years. In a video message on April 5, Gen. David H Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps explained why marines are still recruiting and training. “We never get the chance to pick the next crisis,” he said. How does serving as a Marine prepare you for challenging times? And do you think that your time in the marines creeps into your paintings now?

I think Marines in general are always prepared mentally for things to go south at any time. It’s just part of what is driven into your brain from the time you get off of the bus, no matter how long it’s been since you went.

The Marine Corps stresses leadership from the lowest rank to the highest so when a crisis does hit the individual is prepared to step up and help where they can.

I think the worst part of this isolation has been that (and I have seen this on social media from guys that I was in with) we don’t really have the opportunity to get out there and help. All we can do is sit tight, which makes me feel pretty helpless. At least in the beginning of this.

Lovecraftian Dream by Jody Fallon

Does your methodical study of science fiction illustrations and sculptures by Paul Lehr color your thinking about the pandemic in any way? I ask because I have moments when I feel that what we are living through is not even real. Are there elements of science fiction that might help us process this period?

What I always got from Paul’s work was the struggle of the human condition. I always felt hope in Paul’s work regardless of the subject matter or what the obtacles were that the subjects were trying to over come. There is always a glimmer of light in the most dire of circumstance in his work.

Your piece The Menagerie recently debuted at the Conjoined 10 group art show at Copro Gallery in Santa Monica, California. Hard to believe that was only two months ago. The piece depicts a maelstrom of writhing bodies, some human and some seemingly demonic, emerging from a sulphuric cloud. What was your interpretation of this piece and has that shifted at all since the spread of the pandemic?

That piece for me is about all of these misfits and oddballs coming together in place where they can just be whatever they are. I’d like to think it is an invitation for the rest of us freaks and oddballs out there to come together.

I heard Rick Berry say once that to be a freak in a group of other freaks is one thing. But, to be a freak alone is very very difficult because you will always be found out. That stuck with me somewhere I guess.

The Menagerie by Jody Fallon

Some of your work, such as Around Midnight which features a phantasmic grim reaper surrounded by crawling zombies, is unquestionably dark in theme. Yet it’s also quietly beautiful. Where do you find the balance of light and dark in your art? Does that carry over to the way that you are viewing current events?

I honestly try to show as much love in a piece as I do the darkness.

I hate to bring up the human condition again but this is what I believe art is, regardless of what medium is used.

Great art conveys universal truths I believe. Love, hate, happiness, sadness, rage, serenity… All of these, I think have to come together in balance to make a beautiful piece of art.

What role (if any) does art and the artist have at a time of crisis?

I believe whole heartedly that when society is at its worst and the ship is sinking that it is the artist that comes to the fore to right the boat with whatever honesty that they convey in their work. To give people hope.

Has your creative process been affected during this time? Are you making art? If you are making art, what have you been working on?

I did go through a bit of a dry spell for a few weeks. I’m not sure what that was about. I had just finished a very big project that I can’t talk about at the moment right before all of this went down.

So, I’m not sure if it was a bit of burn out from that or if it was the stress of not knowing what we were facing. Probably both things combined. But I am back to work now, which feels pretty good to get all of this out.

Spectres by Jody Fallon

Have you explored any techniques or mediums during this time that are new to you?

I haven’t really. I’ve just pretty much been doing my thing and hoping that they worked out.

Are there any supplies or tools that you rely on or would like to have but are currently struggling to get?

This is a funny question because as soon as this crisis hit and the Governor shut down non-essential business in the state, the weather was starting to turn towards spring. Every spring I like to go out to the field and do pastel landscapes. I had no pastel paper here.

I said to my wife “Damn it, I wish that had gotten 10 sheets last week.”

Thank God for Blick. It’ll be a while I think before I run out of pastel paper.

What kind of art have you been consuming and why? Is this different than what you typically consume?

I honestly try not to look at much art while I am working. I’m always afraid that it will creep into what I am working on, either from my subconscience or other wise. I’m pretty hard on myself about that sort of thing.

Did you have any planned showcases that have been postponed or cancelled? Or were there any shows that you were looking forward to attending?

I think what bummed me out when all this hit was that it hit right in the middle of The Conjoined 10 [show] at Copro. That is a great gallery to be a part of. And that Conjoined show every year is just top shelf.

Gary and Erica have been very good to me in the short amount of time that I have been involved in the gallery. But, I think that they’re good to everyone and I have no doubt that they will weather this storm. Mostly because they are so good to their artists and their clients.

My other big show is IX which was formally IlluxCon. That takes place in October here in Pa.

I think at this point everyone that exhibits or attends that are waiting to see what happens. I have faith in the directors Patrick and Jeannie Wilshire to do the right thing, whatever that is for the safety of everyone concerned. They’re good people too.

Has your financial situation been affected by the spread of Covid-19?

Quite a bit and not for the better.

What can we do to support your work at this time?

I do have a Patreon page and work at Copro Gallery that is available. Anyone interested in that work can contact the gallery. I also have a piece at Dark Art Emporium that is available.

Thank you so much to Jody Fallon for doing this interview.

You can see more of Jody’s work through his website, his Patreon page and his Instagram.