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Jerry Ross

 (born 1944)
Jerry Ross is active/lives in California, New York.  Jerry Ross is known for painter-portrait, landscape, figurative.

Jerry Ross

    ROSS    click to hear

Biography from the Archives of askART

The following, submitted April 2004, is from the artist:

"My painting style is the result of a lifelong deep learning process that involves art historical references, painting on a daily basis, observation of nature, and careful attention to the act of painting itself.

Each generation of American artists discovers Italy in its own way.  Jerry Ross is among those who have traveled and studied in Italy in the last twenty years and whose work has been informed and influenced by that experience.

Born 1944, in Buffalo, New York, Ross grew up in the Town of Tonawanda, N.Y. and attended public school in Kenmore.   From childhood, he expressed interest in  painting and the history of art.  He studied under Beagleman at the Albright Art School on Utica Steet and later with Tony Sisti.

After graduating from high school, Ross attended the University of Buffalo where he became an early opponent of the war in Vietnam.  He was put on trial in a federal court on charges stemming from a draft resistance incident.  After two hung juries, all charges were dropped, and he graduated in 1968 with a BA degree in Philosophy.

He taught public school in Naco in southern Arizona in 1973, and visited Europe for the first time in the summer of 1974.  In the 1990's, he again traveled abroad, this time to England, Spain, Germany, and Holland.  He also spent a long time in Italy, studying Renaissance and Baroque art.  He spent most of his time in the Bologna area, in the mountains of hilltowns such as Livergnano and Loaino.  Work during this period consisted of portraits and landscapes.

Ross settled in Eugene, Oregon where he attended the University of Oregon.  He joined the New Zone Art Collective in 1993 and was elected its president in 1999.  New Zone at that time was an experimental art cooperative with artists including Bobby Devine, Andrew Johnston, Sydney Rust, Robin Epstein, Tina Dworkowsk and David Joyce.

Ross founded the now popular Salon des Refuses Show in Eugene, Oregon in 1991.
He received the 2000 Mayor's Choice award for the Mayor's Art Show of Eugene, Oregon, and the juror's award at the 31st annual Willamette Valley juried show in Corvallis, Oregon.  Most recently, he received a juror's award for the 2003 Mayor's Show.

In Italy, Ross had his first show in 1999 in Milan at the American Consulate and again in 2000 with a one-man show in Loiano (Bologna).  His most recent show in Italy was in a gallery in Rome, June-July, 2002.  Ross was highly influenced by the Italian macchiaioli school of painting (ottocento), and this led him to propose and teach a class in social "verismo" for the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA) in 2004.  The class enabled Ross to reconnect with his figurative painting which he had begun during the Vietnam era.


"Community College Moment", Special Inaugural Issue, Spring 2001"Isolation" by Jerry Ross page 31, "Not a Poem in Two Parts" by Jerry Ross page 32

"Denali", Winter 2002 Page 37 and 38 (paintings) -- no article

"Community College Moment", Winter 2002, Cover Design and Page 58 (painting)

"Community College Moment", Spring 2003, Cover Design (painting)


1998 Purchase Award, Landscape Painting Competition, Livergnano, Italy

2000 Mayor's Choice award for the Mayor's Art Show of Eugene, Oregon

2003 Juror's Award at the 31st Annual Willamette Valley Juried show in Corvallis, Oregon.

2003 Juror's Award for the 2003 Mayor's Show


2003 Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA) -- December Grand Opening

2003 Lane Community College, Eugene, OR - Bookstore sale of reproductions of "On the Road to LCC"

2003 New Zone Art Collective -- Window Shows in 2003

2003 Aesthetic Surgical Arts & Skin Enhancement Center, Eugene, Oregon April, May, June

2002 January: Maude Kerns Art Center: Group Show

2002 January: Tre Amici Cafe: 14 paintings

2001 December: Heron Building, Eugene: Holiday Exhibit

2001 November: Willamette Annual Juried Show: Juror's Award

2001 September: Salon des Refuse, Eugene

2001 Theo's Jazz Club (now closed)

2000 Mayor's Art Show, Eugene, Oregon

2000 Cafe Soriah, Eugene, Oregon

2000 Comune di Loiano, Loiano (Bologna), Italy

2000 WOW Hall (Community Center for the Performing Arts), Eugene, Oregon

2000 Cafe Cabiria, Florence, Italy (Piazza S. Spirito)

2000 American Consulate in Milan, Italy

1999 WOW Hall (Community Center for the Performing Arts), Eugene, Oregon

1999 Collier House (Faculty Club), University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon

1999 American Consulate in Milan, Italy

1999 Comune di Loiano, Italy (June 17-July 3rd) opening evening of June 17th

1999 Tino's Restaurant, Eugene, Oregon

1998 Coos Art Museum, Coos Bay, Oregon

1998 Collier House (Faculty Club), University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

1998 Salon des Refuse -- Maud Kerns Art Center, Eugene, Oregon

1997 New Zone Art Gallery, High Street, Eugene, Oregon

1997 Collier House (Faculty Club), University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon

1996 New Zone Art Gallery, High Street

1996 Full-City Coffee House, Eugene

1996 Salon des Refuse

1995 New Zone Art Gallery, High Street, Eugene, Oregon

1995 Hult Center, Mayor's Art Show, Portrait of Bob Devine

1994 Hult Center, Mayor's Art Show, L.A. Rebellion

1994 New Zone Art Gallery, High Street

1993 New Zone Art Gallery, High Street

1991 Salon des Refuse

1989 Hult Center, Mayor's Art Show, Portrait of Oreshnikov

1985 Artist's Warehouse, Monroe Street, Eugene

1980 Arakunen Gallery, Florence, Oregon


New Zone Art Collective, Eugene, Oregon
Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA), Eugene, Oregon
Absolute Arts

Biography from the Archives of askART
The following is excerpted from a Discussion Board entry for Jerry Ross, submitted December 2005 by Clarice Zdanski.

In Jerry Ross's own words, his work '…is influenced by that school--the Macchiaioli-- and the social verismo school, in general, in that my landscape painting is close to the earth and love of nature but also in that I love the oil sketch and the spontaneity of plain air painting...but also seeking a metaphysical component present in the Macchiaioli, namely an angst and spirituality linked to pathos and even sadness given the historic and revolutionary context of that period. In portraiture I strive for "effect" as did the I Macchiaioli and also I honor and respect woman, as they did, and their world, often apart and accomplishing useful work, rooted in nature and beauty'.

Even a brief look at his work reveals very close links with the aims and techniques of the Macchiaioli, an Italian school of painting associated with a group of artists who met at the Caffè Michelangelo in Florence around 1860. 

The Macchiaioli style can very approximately be described as a form of pre- or proto- Impressionism in which macchie, the Italian word for blotches or dabs, are used boldly, rejecting drawing and form in favour of overall effect.  Like 'Impressionism', the name 'Macchiaioli' became 'official' after a critic of the Italian newspaper the Gazzetta del Popolo used the term to deride the style's wilfully sketchy, indefinite qualities.

Like many nineteenth century art movements, the Macchiaioli advocated an anti-academic form of painting that aimed to reproduce 'un impressione del vero' (Fattori (1) , which is perhaps best left in Italian because it loses so much of its resonance when translated into English.  In terms of art techniques, il vero can mean life, as in disegnare dal vero, life drawing or working from life. Here there are links with en plein-air painting, another of the great revolutions in art in the nineteenth century.  However, il vero is also the truth.

The painter Telemaco Signorini was the first to use the 'macchia' reference in a positive way, acknowledging a sense of group identity for the Macchiaioli through their technique, which abandoned traditional chiaroscuro to juxtapose color and shadow with color and light in 'blotches' that gave a sketchy, overall idea of effects.  In this sense, the use of the word 'macchia' goes back much farther than the Gazzetta's critic:  the seventeenth century painter Luca Giordano referred to his initial studies of works as 'macchie', thus indicating that painters have always seen this way of working as a primary act in the creative process (2).

Signorini's own title 'studio di macchia' for one of his works also picks up on this(3) .  In any event, the innovations introduced by the Macchiaioli were not strictly technical or of form - they also involved subject matter. These painters wanted to get away from the religious or historical themes propagated by the academy in favour of the beauty of il vero - 'the truth/life', or perhaps we should even introduce 'the real' as in verismo or verism.  It involved a whole range of new subject matter exalting real life - domestic scenes, familiar settings and everyday life, the local countryside, rural and urban scenes, the war.

Along with the nineteenth century's rejection of the academy, we can also see a distinct discovery of what one Italian critic has called the 'poetica del vero', or 'the poetics of the truth/life/realism'(4) .  At the particular moment in history in which the Macchiaioli painters lived, the fight for Italian independence, this interest in the here and now was intimately bound up in intense social interest and a fiercely democratic political orientation.  In fact, various members of the group had participated first hand in the Risorgimento, and A. Cecioni, G. Costa, G. Fattori, S. De Tivoli, T. Signorini and S. Lega had fought in battles in 1848 and 1859.

Nearly a century and a half later, Ross is still engaged in a search for il vero.  His work is an invitation to look around us, to discover his work as well as Fattori's or Signorini's or Lega's, and cherish the legacy they have left us, continuing a poetica del vero in our own day.

(1). La nuova enciclopedia dell'arte Garzanti, (Milan: Garzanti, 1986), 489.

(2) Alessandro Marabottini, Vittorio Quercioli, eds., I Macchiaioli: Origine e affermazione della macchia 1865-70, catalogue to the exhibit at the Museo del Corso, Palazzo Cipolla, Rome, 16 May- 24 September 2000, (Rome: Edizioni De Luca, 2000), 13.

(3) Ibid., cat. no. 4; other works in this catalogue that best convey the 'macchia' way of working are cat. nos. 10 and 11 (Signorini's studies of a cemetery at Solferino and the Duomo in Milan, respectively), cat. nos. 26, 27 and 38 (Fattori's and Lega's studies on panels with colored grounds).

4. Renato Barilli et al., Il secondo '800 italiano: Le poetiche del vero, catalogue to the exhibit at the Palazzo Reale, Milan, 26 May - 11 September 1988, (Milan: Mazzotta, 1988; second ed., 1992).

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About  Jerry Ross

Born:  1944 - Buffalo, New York
Known for:  painter-portrait, landscape, figurative