Balanced composition

By Gabi Moore

Financial planner stretches out, climbs walls at Creole Gallery

Two years ago, Jeremy Mason was just a financial planner who needed something to put on the walls of his new house. Today, he has a solo exhibit at Lansing’s Creole Gallery, showing an array of his paintings from the last year and a half. “It feels like I’ve wanted to do this my whole life, and I finally am,” said the 27-yearold painter. “It made a lot of sense.”

Mason, of Holt, said he has always been creative but was never quite certain how to express it. In college, the sensible part of his brain steered him toward a more practical degree and financially stable job, but coming back to his artistic side has been an enjoyable side interest. He calls himself a “financial planner by day and an artist by night,” but he doesn’t think his two personas are so at odds in the end.

“The business world and the art world aren’t that different, it’s just figuring out how to use your skill sets to make both things work,” he said. “That duality is in my work, as well. It’s chaotic at times, but there are also some sensible lines and shapes that tie everything together. I’ll come home from work, take my tie off and go down and work on a painting. I think I get a break from each thing while I’m doing the other, so it works out that way.”

Mason’s debut exhibit opened at the Creole Gallery at the beginning of November, and it will be up through Dec. 20. He said he had always liked the Creole, and once he started building up a collection of paintings, he contacted curator Roxanne Frith about showing her some work. “She agreed to give me a show before I deserved a chance,” he said.

“What courage it takes for anyone to have a single show his first show out,” Frith said of Mason approaching her. “It’s very admirable. I love Jeremy’s work. Creole Gallery from the beginning has always been a community space for local and regional artists, and it is a delightful thing that for Jeremy, a financial planner, we can offer those shows, because we aren’t a commercial gallery. There’s an artist in all of us.”

Mason has enjoyed immersing himself in the Lansing art scene, where he has met many new, interesting people, including those who, like him, have day jobs but still find time to paint and create.

Mason said he has learned to bring the best parts of his creative side and his logical side together in his work and his art. “I hope it feels like it’s crazy, but at the same time, there is thought put in it,” he said.

Walking through the Creole, it seems there are almost two different exhibits of Mason’s work. Half of the paintings, which Mason said are his earlier work, are darker and bolder, with bright intense colors, while the other half is more muted with earthy tones.

Mason said he wanted to experiment with different styles of painting, and he admitted that once he knew he was going to have his own show, he started thinking more about what other people would like as well, and he tried some new approaches.

“It feels like there’s two separate bodies of work here,” Frith said. “There’s the self-portraits that seem to be more soul searching, not dark as in evil but dark as in those places you go to find yourself. Then he’s come out with these paintings that are very textured and real. They’re earth and nature based.”

Mason has some more exhibits planned for the next few months. As a self-taught artist, he said he enjoys learning more as time goes on, from trial and error and from other artists, and that bringing this artistic aspect into his life has been gratifying. “Sometimes I’ll hit a wall with a painting and just push through and open a new door,” he said. “At times it’s frustrating, but, in general, it’s really rewarding at the end.”

Paintings by Jeremy Mason

Dec. 20 Creole Gallery 1218 Turner St., Lansing. (517) 371-2736 Hours:
1 – 5 p.m. Saturday & Sunday and by appointment