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An artist committed to creativity without limitations

Kimberly Nicoletti
summit daily news

John Orth isn’t interested in compartmentalization – it’s a term that doesn’t fit into his philosophical approach.

Instead, he concerns himself with the nature of creativity and expression, without putting limitations upon it, like commercial art tends to do. It’s not that he has anything against commercial art; it’s just that he believes people have an “immense amount of creativity that is not accessible because it doesn’t fit into a niche,” he said.

As you might expect, Orth is a generalist. Yes, his primary degree, a master’s of fine art at the University of Iowa, is in sculpture. But he also draws, creates art with found objects, produces video and loves to discuss philosophical topics.

“John has an eclectic style,” said Jenn Cram, Arts District administrator. “He works with mixed media and recycled materials to create beautiful abstract works of art. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with while at the Tin Shop.”

One of his main interests involves the way people perceive things, especially as more and more commercial art “gives people this instant gratification and concept that is simplistic,” he said. He enjoys studying the “way the mind actually functions in terms of creativity.”

“Learning to see has to do a lot with the mind bouncing itself off of something,” he said. “It’s one of the primary ideas I like about art.”

He sees no distinction between higher forms of thinking, such as creativity in art, mathematics or physics. In fact, his father was both artistically inclined, as an art therapist, and scientifically adept, as the owner of the first RCA dealer repair shop in northern Iowa, where Orth grew up. Orth now lives in Minneapolis, where he teaches, makes art for himself and clients and sells his pieces to museums.

He invites people to visit him at the Tin Shop for conversation, even if they walk in saying “What the hell are you doing?” and walk out saying, “he’s crazy.”

“I don’t mind that,” he said. “That’s what I think these things are all about.”


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