The Thirteenth Element is filled with ghosts, fusing past and present, challenging our conception of reality and time. My cemetery painting is a dream world where the dead still co-exist among the living, where fragments of their thoughts can still be seen, wispy and blurred, among the residue of the past. My friend and colleague, Geoffrey Naylor, is buried at Evergreen Cemetery. His unmarked grave is difficult to find among the forest of tombstones and monuments. But his fierce, wry, sardonic voice can still be heard disputing the confines of conventional thinking and offering enigmatic dispersions meant to provoke introspection and analysis. My painting is a map of his life’s journey from England to Illinois to Florida, dotted with the stuff of memories—a rabbit named Lavender, a butterfly transformed from organic transience to metallic permanence. Geoff worked in metal, especially the thirteenth element. The art outlives the artist.
John A. O’Connor received his A.B. with Honors in Art and his M.A.A. in from the University of California-Davis. He taught art at the University of California-Davis, the University of California-Santa Barbara, Blake College, Valle de Bravo, Mexico, and Ohio University, Athens before moving to Florida in 1969 to teach art at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He was named Professor of Art in 1985, a position he held until his retirement in 2005. In 1980-82, John A. O’Connor was Director of the Appalachian Center for Crafts. He served as the Faculty Program Consultant to the Florida Board of Regents and also founded the Florida Higher Education Arts Network. He was also founder and director of the UF Center for the Arts and Public Policy. He has had thirty-six solo exhibitions of his paintings and his art has also been exhibited in more than two hundred group shows. His work is in numerous public and private collections in the U.S. and abroad including the State of California Collection, the Ringling Museum of Art, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Bechtel Corporation, Alabama Power and Light, Cole National Corporation and IBM Corporation.