Oliver's Observatory

The Blog & Observations of Oliver H. Evans

Running Artist Makes Great Strides

One evening last week, I happened on a very busy brewery. Perhaps the summer heat brought on a neighborhood-wide craving for craft beer, because Brewery Vivant was alive with traffic.


Housed in what was once a neighborhood funeral home chapel, I noticed dinner parties, after-work socialites, young couples on dates, old couples on dates, and a most helpful staff - all enjoying the ambiance, the drinks, the menu, and the artwork of a recent KCAD alum, Jacob Zars.

The work, titled "Fun With Electrocution," will be exhibited on the walls of Brewery Vivant throughout the summer, adding as much beauty as it does curiosity to the venue's experience and overall aesthetic - which still lightly alludes to the dead and nearly buried. Jacob’s exhibit consists of 8 monotypes that toy with, and welcome the idea of death through a series of electrifying scenarios. I felt the work most effective, given the nature of the space. It requires the amount of intimacy and appeal offered by the venue to really capture the element of danger.

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The close relationship between Jacob's work and the venue is, according to Jacob, all by design. He saw an opportunity in Vivant, where the collection could live and breathe along with the space and its visitors. He said of the relationship, "I was trying to tell stories on each wall. The art has to feel comfortable in its place." He added, "the work enhances the venue and the venue enhances the work." I believe his curating instinct is accurate, as each piece curiously contemplates an idea of darkness that I find wild with the notion of life or the living - just as the word Vivant, itself, suggests "to be alive" or "lively."

After discussing Jacob’s process of curating his work within the venue, we discussed his process of the work itself; which may suggest why he was so careful and thoughtful about where it was to be shown throughout the summer. He shared that each print took approximately thirty hours to create. Each transparency was carefully and directionally brushed with mainly black ink (one of the works includes some color) before it met paper. He explained his use of watercolors, cardboard, ink, and paper with great detail and passion. Jacob also included that the work was part of a larger, 24-image collection he created more than a year ago as part of his senior project. Jacob said the eight pieces used at the brewery "chose themselves" for the show.

I'd like to point out that Jacob made a big decision to pursue art verses the many athletic offers from other institutions. He said of his choice to study art, "it just doesn't compare." Fortunately, Jacob was able to demonstrate his love of sports while at KCAD. He helped start the Kendall Soccer Team and KCAD Club Tennis. He continues his love of distance running and still works part-time at Gazelle Sports, assisting other athletes.

Jacob said he would like to pursue an interest curating work for local venues in Grand Rapids. He also expressed that he will continue to create art in his studio space and at area events such as UICA Live Coverage or the Art Battle For Community at Sazerac Lounge - where, last year, Jacob won first place.

Jacob’s Twitter | His twitter handle, @RunningArtist, is a username that I find fitting (and revealing) of his passion for both athletics and art.