Job Title: Carver and Painter
Why He’s Top 40: He invests in new ideas and experiences, embraces challenges, and keeps his work authentic. Above all, he creates pieces of wonder and wit.
Key To Success: “I live on my own terms, I paint on my own terms and I carve on my own terms.”
In August 2011, Jason Carter and his creative partner, Breakfast Television co-host Bridget Ryan, were in Canmore filming footage of mountains as a personal project when an idea struck them: Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a space on Canmore’s gallery row?
It would be, and in December the Carter-Ryan Gallery and Live Art Venue opened, complete with an exhibit of their book, Who is Boo? The Terrific Tails of One Trickster Rabbit, a live music venue and a gallery for Carter’s work. Already represented by Bearclaw Gallery in Edmonton and Towne Square Gallery in Oakville, Ont., Carter didn’t need representation.
Happy and committed to his job as a cameraman, he was excited to find something he loves even more. His art sells even faster than he can create it. “I suddenly realized I had four full-time jobs [carver, painter, cameraman and gallery operator] and I couldn’t keep up,” he says. So now, he’s be down to two: Carver and painter.
And yet, despite his many exhibits, accolades (Mayor’s Evening of the Arts Emerging Artist Award, for one) and public commissions (the 30-metre-wide painting spanning the entrance of U.S. Customs at Edmonton International Airport, for example), Carter discovered his career path just six years ago.
In fact, in 2006, he was on an entirely different one, taking night classes toward becoming an independent television producer. “I’d been lugging around 30 pounds of rock for a few years,” he says, referring to a block of soapstone his sister had given him, “and I was looking for an excuse to skip class, so I dug it out.” Looking at the rock, he saw what could be a wing. With a screwdriver and a wrench, the only tools he owned, he carved a raven. That night, he fell in love with carving.
For his first solo show, Nanabozho: The Trickster Rabbit, held in 2008, he displayed over 50 carvings and paintings. Ryan turned each carving into a character with a very short story. Enthusiastic audience response led to their collaboration and book.
Reinvesting what he’s made from his art, he has two studios, where he works five days a week, 10 hours a day. Behind the hard work is an irrepressible playfulness, reflecting the man and his art.