Shannon’s work is entrenched with “realism.” Two Singers shows his hero Pete Seeger with a banjo wading in the Potomac, accompanied by a coyote howling. Singing! Old Joe is about to start fishing near Lock 10 in Momma Potomac. Shannon’s favorite goddess Diana stands on the shore of Catoctin Creek with a bow, in the distance a deer she harvested. In another work she is surrounded by Acolytes … present-day teen admirers. In Two Artists Joe shares a classroom with Henri Matisse. They are about to paint a tattooed model. Contemporary issues are always important and Kill Kill is one of a series condemning gun violence. It is stylized and real. As always the nude is central to Shannon’s work. The speed nude series Fast Flat is semi-abstract. Yes, he is having fun!
For most figurative artists the nude is a dominant motif. For Shannon it is linkage to the past, the future, and human vitality. Sir Kenneth Clark wrote that renderings of the nude could not be separated from sex. Right, SEX!
Picasso dwells within many Shannon works — stylistically and thematically. Picasso’s graphics are especially omnipresent in Joe’s mind. Pablo and Edgar Degas are his favorite artists. PICASSO AND DEGAS!
There is, of course, a lot of overlap in Joe Shannon’s work — interlocking and unlocking, so to speak — funny and socially friendly, then suddenly plain mean or grieving — then again, in another strange contrast — mythically pastoral.
Drawing is the foundation of figurative art. When you examine Joe’s drawings the range is classical, realistic, distorted, playful, derivative – Proudon, Degas, and of course the deeply embedded attachment to Picasso – and cartooning! Look and learn!