‘Finders Keepers’: Jon has an art show with a twist
Jon Legere has created an unusual challenge for anyone who visits his solo exhibition at Masterworks.
Embedded in his art are clues that will lead to seven “guardian jugs” he has hidden across the island; if you’re lucky enough to find one, it’s yours to keep.
“One of them has already been found by Masterworks,” he said. “I gave them some clues and some puzzles, kind of a little test and also so that the team was familiar with how this is going to work.”
That jug will be on display when his clue-filled exhibit opens in the Rick Faries Gallery at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art on Friday. Until then, he’s dropping a few tips on Instagram: @legere.
“If people care, if they are successful and they find one or two, there's little notes inside the jugs: ‘Hey, this is your jug. You own it. It’s yours — finders, keepers.’ But you can bring it to Masterworks and verify it. You can also put it on display until the show's over. But if no jugs are found, they won't be there.
“Most of the clues are going to be at the show. In my drawings and some of the work there’s going to be hidden puzzles and hidden clues. So the key to unlock any of the locations will be at the gallery.”
Jugs similar to those hidden by Mr Legere have been found in pottery from ancient Greece and 13th century Europe.
More commonly known as “face jugs”, they first appeared in the American South in the mid-1800s.
“Face jugs have been around for thousands of years. They existed in all different types of cultures — Roman, Aztec … just about every culture created face jugs. They were to ward off evil spirits and to keep away demons and protect the caretakers of wherever they lived. And so these are the same: they've all been enchanted with power and for any of their hosts, hopefully they'll protect them.”
For the exhibit at Masterworks, Mr Legere has created four collage paintings measuring 4ft by 8ft.
“They’re quite big, super colourful and made up of collage material that I've just found on the island — from The Barn; Salvation Army, rummaging through people's books and borrowing them and never giving them back. Just things that I've found.
“They’re all fluorescent, really bright, bold colours. And then there's going to be some drawings and some smaller works.”
Mr Legere, a Bermudian who resides in New York, last showed his work at Masterworks about three years ago. He’s been busy in the United States in the time since, with a solo exhibit at the High Line Nine in Chelsea and “a bunch of group shows”.
“All the two-dimensional work at Masterworks was made on the island over the last several weeks. Some of it is work that I've had here that I'd never finished, but the four large-scale paintings, I started completely from scratch and I've just been working furiously. I get up really early, paint for five hours, take a little break and then go all the way into the night. So I've just been painting furiously on those.”
The jugs, which he made while in New York, were his first attempt at ceramics.
“I made them in the Catskills, in the mountains. I actually got the porcelain, the clay and all that and I made them up there. I fired them up there. These jugs will last thousands of years. That’s the reason why I landed on ceramics — because they could last a very long time out in the wild — and they’re true ceramics.
“They've been fired three times. They went through a bisque fire, a glazed fire and they’ve gone through a lustre fire as well. And then I've added precious metals to them. All of them have gold or white gold, precious metal that's been fired on to them. So I came with the jugs and I’ve been working on them for several months knowing that I was going to bury them and hide them around here.”
It’s quite possible Mr Legere will never know where the jugs end up.
“There's no technology in the jugs. I won’t know if they’ve ever been found unless someone mentions it or I look and they're not in the spot I put them. But really, I just wanted to do something fun rather than just hanging paintings on a white wall. I wanted to have a little bit of fun and interact with people and kind of celebrate the island a little bit.”
• Finders Keepers opens in the Rick Faries Gallery at 5.30pm on Friday and runs until October 4. For more information visit masterworksbermuda.org