John McVicker at the Cavin-Morris Gallery, 2011 (photo provided)
John McVicker at the Cavin-Morris Gallery, 2011 (photo provided)

A Different Stroke: Athens Artist Featured in NYC Exhibition

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Despite the fact that he considers himself a “weekend artist,” Athens resident John McVicker was invited to take part in an exhibition at the prestigious Cavin-Morris Gallery in New York City.

The exhibit, titled Obsessions Collective: Works by Artists of Extreme Interest, is being curated by the avant-garde composer and saxophonist John Zorn, who knew McVicker in college.

Several of McVicker’s abstract paintings were selected by Zorn, who had already owned a few of McVicker’s pieces.

Back in the 1970s, the pair lived in the same dorm at Webster College (now Webster University) in St. Louis, Mo., and bonded over music.

“John, at the time, was way into contemporary classical,” said McVicker. “And I was a jazz guy, so we used to trade records.”

McVicker’s work is being displayed alongside pieces from 20 other painters, who, according to the Cavin-Morris website, “…have not yet found gallery representation but who are dedicated to making art, and who are compelled to do what they do.”

“He (Zorn) has an enormous intellectual appetite and has always been interested in everything,” said McVicker. “Obsessions is all about ‘these are people I’m not going to see in Art News.'”

Drawing inspiration from Georgia O’Keeffe and Wassily Kandinsky, McVicker’s paintings are both realistic and abstract. Many begin as sketches and evolve as time goes on.

Despite having studied art in college, his career took a different path which led him to the Ohio University Department of Lingusitics in 1985. Only recently did McVicker return to painting, but only during breaks from teaching.

“I don’t have a chance to really keep my chops up,” he said. “I was never really good at getting an image down quickly.”

However, McVicker is more than happy to be included in the show, especially since art has not been his full-time job in a long time.

“There seem to be folks who like what I do,” he said.

Obsessions Collective: Works by Artists of Extreme Interest runs until Jan. 21 at the Cavin-Morris Gallery in New York City. For more information, visit