It's a long way from Shanghai to Arkadelphia.
It is an even longer way when the artist's life-journey must first transport him from his Chinese birthplace to Singapore to Bombay to Chicago, and then on to a four-year stint in the United States Navy - all prior to beginning his formal training in art.
By the time John Linn arrived in Arkadelphia, Arkansas in 1977 to become Dean of Fine Arts at Henderson State University, he had already received his bachelor's and master's degrees from San Diego University as well as his doctorate in art theory and criticism from the University of Georgia. He had also been professor of art at Eastern Illinois University, having chaired its art department for two years. He remained dean at HSU for twelve years and later served as Director of the Joint Educational Consortium of HSU and Ouachita Baptist University for five years. All the while, he was teaching art classes, writing for arts publications, and finding time to paint.
As a graduate student at Henderson, I was very much aware of Dr. Linn's formidable career as an arts educator, historian and critic. Soon I came to know his proficiency as a painter. Still, it was difficult for me to believe that this tall, handsome man wearing a three-piece suit had ever picked up a paintbrush, much less have created that huge abstract painting hanging in his office. And what a fabulous painting it was!
Long after I left Henderson, Dr. Linn continued his encouragement and critique of my own artwork, including his review of my 1992 solo exhibition for a regional arts magazine. Now it is my turn to reciprocate. Now the student becomes the curator and critic of the teacher's artwork. Now it is "full circle".
The eleven medium-sized works in the "Full Circle" exhibit span Dr. Linn's forty-year career as an award-winning artist and show his exemplary skill as a painter, from abstraction to realism and back again - yet another full circle. While earlier works show a Hoffman influence in his non-objective paint application and picture format, he also captured the luminosity of the landscape and the mystique of New England lighthouses, eventually combining these realistic images with Cornell-like cubicles of allegory. Any way you look at it, the merit of Dr. Linn's work as an artist should be apparent.
Two months ago, this artist departed on his final journey. How fortunate we are that he has left behind for us to cherish his paintings, his writings, his teachings, and the memories of his friendship.
And I, as a student of his, am forever grateful for the privilege of having known him.
Barbara A. Sloan
Artist's Page courtesy of AKAS II
- because there's more to Art than meets the Eye!