Morgan’s motorcycles and murals

Jason Morgan displays still life and portraits at Springfield Museum of Art

By Joyell Nevins

Photo: Jason Morgan, Indian Four, 2009

Jason Morgan of Yellow Springs can attribute his new lifestyle and career to two things: getting out of a cubicle and making people happy. The artist’s work is featured at the Springfield Museum of Art in the exhibition Full Circle: Paintings by Jason Morgan now through Feb. 6, 2016.
“I really like the feeling of making someone very happy—that’s what a lot of my work is,” Morgan says.
Although Morgan has been drawing all his life, his art didn’t take front and center until about a decade ago.
“In 2001, I had a midlife crisis of sorts,” Morgan says. “I was a computer graphic artist, working in a cubicle, in an office. I quit, moved back to Texas [his hometown] and figured out the only thing I was really good at was drawing and painting.”
The chance to turn that into a career came from two family commissions: first, a portrait and then, a mural. Both of those opportunities got him several other similar projects to complete. Portraits were often commissioned by family for family. The mural was in Wilmington, Ohio, and transformed the back of a building into an Italian villa street scene, complete with a balcony and little people.
“The Wilmington mural got me recognition and it went from there,” Morgan says.
Have you seen or heard of the mural on the back of the Regent Theatre building in Springfield? How about the people, young and old, standing in water and asking, “Who’s minding the planet?” on the Yellow Springs Instruments building in Yellow Springs? Those are just some examples of his handiwork.
“People love watching the progress of the murals,” Morgan says. “They say they enjoy seeing real art in their everyday lives.”
He branched out into still life paintings in 2008, when the economy tanked and murals and portraits were harder to come by. Morgan started going around the house, picking objects and arranging them into poses. These objects range from fruit and vegetables to toy figurines to perfume bottles (one painting has a dinosaur perched precariously on an eggplant).
He would photograph the poses, blow up the photo and then paint from that picture. In the exhibition at Springfield, some of the objects themselves are also on display under plexiglass to show proportions. He also paints motorcycles, both engine close-ups and full pictures of the bikes.
“If I could paint nothing but motorcycles, I would be a happy man,” Morgan laughs.
These paintings received a home thanks to an encounter with Sherryl Kostic, the gallery owner of Yellow Springs’s “would you, could you” In a Frame, who produced his first show. The gallery is closing for good at the end of this year, but Morgan said he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Kostic—and several other important women in his life.
One of these prominent women is his wife Margaret, who is also artistic (he admits she is probably more artistic because she paints when the mood strikes her, not “on demand”). The couple actually chose to move to Yellow Springs because of the artistic attitude of the town. Margaret grew up in Wilmington and remembered attending festivals and theatrical productions in the springs. Jason says Margaret, who draws and writes poetry, helps him get the right proportions and colors in his still life. She pushes him to keep working until the product is practically perfect.
“She prevents me from putting work out there that’s not the best I can do,” Morgan explains.
Morgan likens his paintings to children. Whether it’s at the Springfield museum, “would you could you” or the Brandt-Roberts Gallery in Columbus’s Short North, he calls it “unbelievable and rewarding” to see his work on display.
“It’s kind of like if your child was president or won an Academy Award,” he says. “These paintings are like my children.”
You can watch Morgan work at a special “gallery chat” and demonstration at the Springfield Museum of Art from 2-3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. He brings his easel and acrylics and works on a canvas while discussing and explaining what he’s doing. Fair warning, though—the last demonstration Morgan gave went over the allotted hour.
“[The audience] was so interested and asked a lot of questions,” Morgan says. “The ‘hour’ went longer than I planned!”
The Springfield Museum of Art has also been pleased with the turnout at the Full Circle exhibition.
“People are coming from all over,” the museum’s Operations Manager Eve Fleck says. “Kids especially love [his paintings].”
With his own two kids grown up and out of the house, a beautiful wife, a supportive community and plenty of painting work, Morgan is a happy man.
“This is the best I’ve ever been in my entire life,” he declares.

The Full Circle exhibition runs through Feb. 6, 2016. The Springfield Museum of Art is located at 107 Cliff Park Rd. Admission is $5 for adults and free for members. For more information, please call 937.325.4673 or visit

Joyell Nevins believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at or reach her at

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Joyell believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at or reach her at

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