Manchester University
Oak Leaves

October 14, 2016

Clockwork Apple

'Clockwork Apple'

Diesburg Displays Unique Paintings in Gallery G

Maddie Jo Shultz

The opening reception for MU art professor Jeff Diesburg’s show “Transitions” was held on Friday, October 7. Diesburg took the Manchester community into another world through his creative representations of nature’s elements, thought-provoking concepts and the human face with his compilation of oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings.

Attendees included fellow professors, students, visiting alumni, friends and family. Diesburg’s wife Foy and their two children accompanied him to the event, in addition to his mother Mary Adams, who flew in from Iowa to see the exhibition. “Jeff has truly pursued his passion in life,” she said with a smile.

Thirty-one paintings make up Diesburg’s collection. Thirty of these adorn the walls and suspended panels of Gallery G, with a single piece hanging nearby in the hall just outside the Lahman Room. The west wall of the gallery houses the oldest of the paintings, including two self-portraits, while the south wall balances both the old and the new. “This [south] wall is actually a representation of things that my professors told me not to do,” Diesburg says. He admits to being an “arrogant student” when (against his instructor’s advice) he added wings to the woman in “Theatrical Masquerade.” Painting fairies can be a cliché, he says, but notes that people have responded very well to his series of four flower sprites.

Over the years, the artist has dealt with many different subjects, overcome obstacles and thwarted disaster in the making of the pieces on display. Pictures vary from a flower that lay unfinished in his mother’s basement for more than a decade, a watercolor portrait of an exhibitionist model at the Savannah College of Art and Design that a gallery owner once mistook for a rendering of Christ, and the aptly named “Three Hour Sketch” of a woman that was nearly finished when Diesburg accidentally sat in his palette of paints. Diesburg isn’t kidding when he says that every painting has a story behind it.

Creative stimuli are everywhere for Diesburg, who drew inspiration for his oil painting “Illusory Prism” from the lobby of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, and determined the subject matter for his watercolor “Avian Spirit” by “Bible dipping” images of a cockatiel and a Tibetan baby from an old National Geographic magazine. 

Diesburg found inspiration closer to home when painting “Joy in Creation,” a portrait of his children, but estimates he may only paint his family once every four or five years. “Painting someone you know well is not a bad idea, but it’s a time-consuming choice,” he says. He created his rendition of Fern, 4, and Lark, 2, on a hexagonal, seemingly three-dimensional canvas. “I spent easily twice as long as I would have normally noodling on their faces, trying to make them recognizable,” he adds. The cubic paintings— “Illusory Prism,” “Joy in Creation” and “Perceived Boundary”—are his most recent works, and he says they’ll be his favorites for a little while.

Diesburg has a flair for the ambiguous and abstract, and encourages unique interpretations of his art from critics and casual viewers alike. “Transitions” will remain on display until Nov. 18. For more information about the artist, visit his website,