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Thomas C. Jackson

American Scene Archives

Looking for More

Iowa Pastimes:
Politics and State Fairs


It's in the American psyche and always has been. In 1776 our Declaration of Independence listed three unalienable Rights: "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Since then Americans have done their best to pursue happiness, always looking for more. This search for more is one of the threads of the American fabric. We want to build the tallest buildings, root for the best teams, and make the most money. We take for granted that America is the Land of Plenty, and we want our share. (Continued at bottom of page.)

Meat Market

Take Our Picture, Food Court







Big Band Dance


Christmas House 2

Cake with Raspberries


Midway Motion

Legionnaires Leading Parade

State Fair 3

The following paintings were painted for a solo show at the Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, IA, 2008:

Times Square


Michigan Avenue


Holly Ball


Vegas Casino


Midway Crowd


Christmas House


Grand Central Station


Food Lane Crowd


Indiana Roof

Michigan Avenue 2

Looking for More (continued from above)

This exhibition (at the Dubuque Museum of Art, 2008) has been years in the making. Ever since the spectacle of the 2004 political conventions, I've been facinated by complex, dramatic American imagery. I made the commitment to spend a large portion of my time photographing "painterly" images to use as a basis for my artwork. They inspire me to paint the way I want to paint. I want a close examination of each painting to show that I care… but not that much. I decided long ago that the surest way to ruin a painting was to be slave to the photograph that inspired it.

I've made a point to travel to cities and schedule time in the right places and times to capture the types of events I wanted to paint. All of the paintings in this show are based on photographs that I took in New York City, Las Vegas, Chicago, Des Moines, Indianaplolis, Dubuque, and Cedar Rapids.

I've selected images depicting Americans looking for more: more summer fun, visual stimulation, crowds, excitement, food, travel, money, music, and dancing. They may be interested in buying one more Christmas present, showing off the latest fashion, traveling to the next hot spot, garnering more political leverage, enjoying one more big band dance, winning a prize, eating comfort food, or exuding the most Christmas spirit.

Michelle Robinson, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, IA, has described my paintings: "…bright lights and orgy of excess… show crowds of people, over-the-top marketing, and a sensory overload…"

Many artists today look within to a personal vision, creating fictions only they see. I hold a mirror up to society and reflect unreal endeavors only reality can create. It would be easy to mock excesses with grotesque caricatures; I've tried to reflect the subtle nuances of the complex realities we encounter in America today. I strive to make relevant, memorable American images that make people think. I focus on finding the extraordinary in ordinary American life. I am interested in reflecting the mood and feeling of our era.

While these compositions are photo-based and representational, I have pushed contrast, texture, and color intensities; flattened areas, and eliminated detail or created more detail. These changes add drama and make each piece as much about color, paint on canvas, and the act of painting as recording reality. At times, I will overpaint a complex area of a painting with a flat color. In art, like life, sometimes you don't know if you've gone far enough until you've gone too far.