Serl, Jon

Jon Serl had many creative talents that were apparent from an early age, but only came to painting later in his life. He was born in 1894 in Olean, New York, to a theatrical, vaudevillian family. He took up performance as a profession as well, working as a singer, dancer, actor, female impersonator, voice-over artist, and screenwriter.

Jon Serl took up painting after many years as a farmhand, chef, and performer on the vaudeville stage. He always loved an audience, and to the end of his long life (he died at 99) he enjoyed the adulation of the art world and all those friends who came to listen to his fanciful tales.

Serl’s history is certainly apparent in his work, much of which leaps from the surface to catch the viewer’s eye. His world is filled with sideshow figures and contortionists, but his past as a vaudevillian does not explain the mystical, almost archetypical, dimension of these paintings. Lively and bold, they are infused with a sense of narrative drama.

Jon Serl
1894 Olean, New York, USA - 1993 USA