Madison-based artist Jerry Jordan is getting ready to host a solo artist exhibit in Milwaukee titled “Expressions for a New Renaissance,” which will run from June 1-Aug. 27 and is open to the public at the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) on the Lake, located inside the retirement campus of Saint John’s On The Lake in downtown Milwaukee.

“The general theme of the show is growth and expansion, the freedom to be who you want to be,” Jordan tells Madison365. “I want the viewers to walk away not just feeling like they’ve seen the paintings, but I want them to experience them. It should feel like an experience.

Jerry Jordan. Photo supplied.

“This will be my second solo show in the City of Milwaukee. My previous one was at the Portrait Society Gallery on Buffalo Street,” he adds. “This exhibition will be called ‘Expressions for a New Renaissance. ‘

Jordan has 13 works of art picked out for this exhibit.

“Each one is a little one-act play sort of telling a little story. But I want the viewer to be able to kind of make up their own story of what’s going on in the paintings,” he says.

These paintings at the upcoming solo show in Milwaukee, like most of his other paintings, are heavily influenced by music.

“I can’t play any type of instrument whatsoever or read music but I really appreciate musicians and I’m inspired by their process in creating their work,” Jordan says. “So I’ve kind of taken the same approach that they do. As a painter, it’s very similar in that you have to be constantly practicing. I don’t think people think of artists as practicing … getting up early in the morning to practice … but that’s how I consider it. I’m consistently working and practicing … keeping my eyes sharp and my fingers nimble.”

Does Jordan ever listen to music while he paints?

“All the time. I have ‘Music for Painting’ …. volumes one, two, and three,” Jordan smiles. “I listen to a lot of jazz when I paint because I really admire the jazz musicians and listening to their process and how they go about things. So the paintings kind of reflect that a little bit. I just want to present the viewer with a different way of seeing people such as myself That’s what I’m striving for. And for younger people who want to be artists, I want them to be inspired by the work.”

Jordan describes his style as a “contemporary realism style in the tradition of Harlem Renaissance influences.” Jordan draws inspiration from his personal experience, but also from the Harlem Renaissance, the flourishing of Black culture from the 1910s through the 1930s in New York. Jordan is influenced by Harlem Renaissance painters such as Aaron Douglas and James Porter. 

A lot of my pieces for this upcoming exhibit are tied together to a color palette, black and purple with peach or pinks. There are pastoral scenes. Musicians in a field by themselves playing to the rising sun,” Jordan explains. “So that’s why I usually get that image of somebody out in the field playing their trumpet early in the morning … welcoming in the new day.

Jerry Jordan, The Drawing Party, 2022

“There’s a painting called ‘The Drawing Party’ and it’s three figures in a field drawing. And so I envision these people … they have their bird cages and the bird cages are open and birds are flying. And so in the drawing part, you see this woman sitting down she’s actually drawing the birds as they’re being released. So that’s the story there. There’s often a musical theme, as well.”

Jordan’s paintings are personal and biographical. They are often about Black people being truly free to live without fear and achieve their greatest potential.

“I hope people are inspired by it. I hope people are inspired to think of what it is they want to be and what it is they want to do in life and to think differently about things,” Jordan says. “And then for those for people who view Black folks a certain way, I hope they walk away with a different perspective … expand their perspective.”


The “Expressions for a New Renaissance” exhibition is open to the public at MOWA on the Lake, the museum’s community gallery located inside the retirement campus of Saint John’s On The Lake in downtown Milwaukee.