Artist Steve Jebbett embraces overkill in his richly detailed works

Andy Downing
Steve Jebbett

For an artist, the struggle is often to know when a work is complete and when even a single added brushstroke might ruin what could have otherwise been a masterpiece. Steve Jebbett generally doesn’t share these concerns.

“A lot of times I’ll look at this piece and be like, ‘That’s not done yet,’” Jebbett said, gesturing to a supposedly completed work in his current show at Close Quarters: Social Gaming Club in Franklinton (the exhibition, "Among Us," which has been up for two months, will come down following a closing event during Franklinton Friday tonight, July 12). “I hate the fact that there’s no color in the background. But is it done? I don’t know. And (signaling to another work) did I go too far with this page? I don’t think I did, but some people might. … One thing I do remember hearing from art schools is that when you think it’s done, leave it alone, because a lot of times you can overwork pieces. At the same time, that’s kind of what I do.”

As an example, Jebbett directs me to another piece in the show, “Unwind,” which is comparatively sparse, bordered by wide swaths of white space — as rare in Jebbett’s work as the Columbus sun in February. Indeed, even as he pointed the oddity out, the artist appeared to be fighting the urge to rip the pen from my hand and fill in the blank space with intricate pen-work.

Jebbett has long worked in black and white, crafting pieces so busy and richly detailed that they can cause viewers to linger in search of new elements. He rightly described his influences as a mix of “The Simpsons,” Where’s Waldo and H.R. Giger.

For his drawings, Jebbett starts in black pen (he uses easily obtainable G2: Pilot Pens) on thick paper stock such as mat board, since he has a tendency to press down hard when he works, which can cause normal sketch paper to tear. Beginning 18 months ago, he also started introducing color into select drawings, since it made certain pieces easier for the viewer to read, often working with watercolor markers to bring a piece to colorized life.

In addition, Jebbett’s show features a handful of sculptural pieces made from found objects, including dolls and old typewriter parts — a fascination that also scratches a deep preservationist urge within the artist.

“The thing that really motivated me with the 3D pieces was the typewriters. I like to collect old typewriters and then pick them apart, which Tom Hanks is going to hate me for, because apparently he likes typewriters,” said Jebbett, who moved to Columbus six years ago and has a studio at Chromedge in Franklinton. “There’s something very personal about it. Smith Corona typewriters are typically what I look for because I grew up [in Upstate New York] like right down the road from a Smith Corona plant, which is now gone. There’s something kind of ironic that I grew up around the people who built these things, and now I’m taking them apart and trying to use them for something else.”

Close Quarters: Social Gaming Club

“Among Us” closing reception

7 p.m. Friday, July 12, 2019

480 W. Town St., Franklinton