Hidden TreasureThe Hunt For Jason Poremba's Street Art
While he may not be surreptitiously sneaking around town in a hoodie with a can of spray paint, Jason Poremba has created a local thrill for art hunters trying to decipher where in the community he will place his newest work. Enthusiasts follow his Instagram @jasonthomasart to get notifications when he posts a picture of the painting with just a hint of its new public setting. Poremba who is a Southampton native and has the Jason Thomas Architect Studio wanted to try a new approach to art. “People are obsessed with technology, so I was thinking how do I take physical objects and engage on the internet? I’m hanging paintings in the natural landscape in the community, and I interact with people there.”
Careful to ensure there is no destruction of public property, he finds buildings or parks or even docks to hang his works which are usually found within 15 minutes, sometimes even sparking arguments between two people who find it at the same time. One even was chased by a bystander yelling, “Stop thief!”
“At first the work was meant to be put up and left up,” he explains, “There was a dilapidated church near me, and I put a painting up there. But then someone took it, and I thought that would be pretty cool to put up my work and have people take it.” A sort of artistic Steal This Painting. “As soon as I’m done with pieces, I can’t look at them so I get rid of them,” says Poremba, “For an architect to design your own home is painful because you are walking around thinking what you could have done differently. It’s similar to a painting where maybe I’ve done too little or went too far (too much salt in the stew).”
Poremba has always been interested in art and found his art and architecture worlds intersected. He graduated summa cum laude and at the top of his design class in architecture at the New York Institute of Technology. He comments, “At college when we were doing urban planning studies, I would add collages, and the professors were intrigued and kept asking for larger and larger ones, encouraging my creativity.” He continued his love of art while working as an accomplished architect in the Hamptons. Poremba escapes being pigeon holed into a particular style, having worked on everything from the historic Hannibal French House in Sag Harbor Village to a modern design in Sagaponack. “My portfolio is really diverse,” says Poremba, “My work is informed by the client and the context of the setting.”
Art became an outlet for what he couldn’t do through architecture. He says, “I am going beyond this controlled work to expressive work and to reach further and dig deeper.” He adds, “In art I can do my own thing. Particularly with the street drop stuff, it’s completely on my terms. There are no rules. I have a lot of control because I’m not motivated by making money. It’s not about what a gallery wants me to do or following a particular trend. It’s what I think is right, and people are reacting to it.” Popular icons are subject matter for Poremba who creates the images out of symbols or words. In a Jungian twist he often finds that the symbols he paints reflect the found objects he also collects. Plywood and other items retrieved from his job sites get repurposed into art work, some of which is actually displayed in galleries or art fairs or inspires collectors to commission a portrait in his signature style.
Jason’s work has been awarded multiple times from such jurors as Elisabeth Sussman from the Whitney, Carolyn Lanchner, formerly of MoMA, and other prominent curators. But just as important is the lucky treasure hunter whose local sleuthing skills leads him/her to own a Poremba original. “At times if I’m being honest, I’m super introverted,” says Poremba, “But people would say I’m funny and outgoing. I’m an artist and put it out there but I’m also trying to engage with people. It’s been amazing, and I feel really lucky to do this in the community I am in.”