“Experience Nicholas Barron,” currently on exhibit at Capizzo Studio, is a show dedicated to Barron’s diverse talents as an accomplished artist and a charismatic cultural rebel whose work spans several media. He is an acclaimed Chicago-based singer, songwriter, and guitarist who melds acoustic folk, blues, and soul music into his unique style. Early in his career, he helped found the Coalition for the Advancement of Street Art to support fellow buskers and stop the city from interfering with their performances. As a result, the coalition won wider public creative freedom. Barron is also a prolific visual artist, a dazzling colorist with acrylic paints, bringing the manic energy of neo-expressionism and abstraction. He is also a versatile draftsman with his intricate Sharpie drawings. In short, he is a force to be reckoned with.
Barron Brings his Vibrant Color to his guitar
Barron has opened for many music legends including, Pat Benatar, James Brown, Johnny Cash, James Taylor, The Doobie Brothers, Al Green, Freedy Johnston, BB King, Willie Nelson, The Neville Brothers, and REO Speedwagon. In fact, after James Taylor met him and heard him perform, his one-word accolade for Barron was, "undeniable." His career has since taken off. He has released 10 albums of original music, and his popular YouTube videos have had over five million hits.
Visual art has always been important to Barron, but it took a back seat over the years to his music career. He grew up surrounded by the paintings and sculptures of his artist father, William Barron, and his own work was shaped by that enduring influence. In 2007, following what he describes as a "traumatic breakup," Barron's work with visual art intensified.
He started to transfer his doodles onto large canvases and rustic windows. In the beginning he drew with Sharpies and markers on canvas and various surfaces, literally “drawing on everything”, adding Colorful Sennelier Oil pastels to canvas, which are like giant glorified crayons.
- The Elephant Room Gallery
Paintings by Nicholas Barron
new materials and New Directions
When the Covid-19 lockdown began in 2020, Barron's public performances came to a halt, and that resulted in a shift in his artistic priorities as well. That's when his visual production went into hyperdrive. By his own estimate, he's made well over 125 paintings in the last two years. In addition to acrylic, he has expanded to mixed media including house paint, oil pastels, charcoal, dye, and magic markers, and that list will undoubtedly grow.
Barron is now experimenting with surfaces other than canvas and paper, most recently incorporating his mixed media on the surfaces of his guitars, allowing his materials to express not only design but also language - names, lyrics, poetry, and prose - as his songwriting instincts come to the forefront again. Most recently, he took on the challenge of expressing himself in mural form on the surface of a shipping container.
Reflecting on this artist's multidimensional career, Capizzo owner Nick Cappelletti said, "Nicholas Barron is a badass. He’s an artist, a writer, a musician, a polymath, and interesting as hell." On a recent sunny afternoon, with buckets of paints and brushes at the ready, Barron was busy painting outdoors, preparing one of the canvases in the current exhibition.
With public gatherings now possible again, Barron's performances are, too. He'll have to chart the future of his career with visual arts and music going full steam ahead at the same time. That will be interesting to watch. One of his albums is titled, "I'm not Super Man," but seeing his production, some people might think otherwise.
Experience Nicholas Barron - Exhibition Dates and Times
July 28-31, 11-5 p.m.
July 29 Reception Friday, 5-8 p.m.
August 4-7, 11-5 p.m.