Get to know Jasper Johns |

Get to know Jasper Johns

The Powers Art Center's new exhibition features more than 100 of Jasper Johns' works on paper, but the building itself is also a sight to see.
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |

If You Go...

What: Exhibit of Jasper Johns’ limited edition works on paper

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday

Where: Powers Art Center

How Much: Free

Off the beaten path in Carbondale sits an internationally recognized gem of the art world: The Powers Art Center.

The center opened about a year ago as a way to share John G. Powers’ private collection of more than 300 works on paper by influential pop artist Jasper Johns. On Monday, the center’s second exhibition opened, featuring more than 100 of these works spanning from 1960 to 2012.

“I have changed all the galleries; everything in the galleries is all fresh and from our permanent collection,” said Director Melissa English. “I’ve introduced more of his traditional flags and targets that he’s very well-known for. Many of those were out on loan when we were hanging the first exhibit, so now they’re in the second exhibit.”

The Powers Art Center is one of many single-artist museums in the world which offer an in-depth look into one artist’s process and development. English said the center will always focus on showing the work of Jasper Johns, and she’s not worried about patrons getting bored.

“I find people will come once and then come back again, and they see totally different things in the same works because there’s so much depth and so many different images that he uses layered on each other,” she said. “You’ll see different things each time. Last year, with the first exhibit, I had people come back two and three times.”

The exhibition is set up chronologically, beginning with Johns’ first lithograph from 1960 and ending with his work from 2012. English said that if Johns, a living artist, creates more works on paper, the center will purchase them and eventually share them with the public.

“He’s one of the most important artists in our lifetime,” English said. “He was one of the first artists to start into the Pop Art era with Robert Rauschenberg in New York. He’s probably one of the most important living artists that we have today.”

The Powers Art Center has received international recognition over the last year because of the comprehensive, in-depth Jasper Johns experience that it offers.

“I had one man arrive with his London Financial Times in his hand with the article,” English said. “He’d just gotten off the plane in Aspen, and this was his first stop.”

In addition to more than 300 of Johns’ works on paper, the center features a library of Powers’ collection of art books. English said a student from Princeton will be coming in the fall to work on her dissertation on Jasper Johns.

“It’s a perfect fit for her to come here and have the collection nearby and these resources,” English said.

There is also a six-minute PowerPoint presentation running in a conference room on the main floor at all times that shows photos of Johns and Powers together and offers insight as to how Johns approached his art.

English said 2,125 people visited the free center last season, a number she’s happy with. One way she expects to grow the art center is by reaching out to more local schools to coordinate field trips.

“That’s important to me, to have that connection,” English said. “I did have several schools visit last year, but I’d really like to see more of them planning a field trip.”

English said whether a visitor is a Jasper Johns fanatic or completely new to his work, the Powers Art Center offers the ideal experience.

“It’s a really wonderful educational tool for someone that’s not really familiar with Jasper Johns,” she said. “They’re really going to get a wonderful introduction into his progression through the years and exactly what he’s all about with his imagery and techniques.”

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