Artist explores the humour of cartoons in latest Hicks Gallery exhibition

Jack Jensen poses alongside some of his cartoons in the John V. Hicks Gallery on Oct. 31. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Jack Jensen might be known around Prince Albert for his accomplishments working in three dimensions, but as his new show opening at the John V. Hicks Gallery shows, he’s got just as much character in two dimensions.

Jensen’s new show features a few dozen cartoons and captions culled from his collection of over hundreds

It’s not an art form Jensen has shown as much in the community, but it’s certainly one close to his heart.

“I’ve always put some humour into my art,” Jensen said Thursday while taking a break from hanging the show.

“I became aware of international cartoon contests where all you were gambling was the postage. It seemed like a lot better odds than lottery tickets.”

Some of the cartoons are quirky, while others carry a more serious message. Many have evolved from rough drafts scribbled in the dark in the early hours of the morning.

“I always keep a piece of paper and a pen in my pocket because ideas for cartoons are kind of like dreams. If you don’t get them down, they disappear,” Jensen said.

“I might wake up at 5 in the morning, 6 in the morning and have a thought. I won’t turn the lights on, I’ll just scribble on this piece of paper and try to interpret it in the morning.”

Jensen said he has two file folders about five inches thick full of captions and little sketches.

That’s in addition to the over 350 he’s already completed.

He said the inspirations for the cartoons come from his daily life.

“It just comes out of my head. Maybe I’ll hear something or see something and twist it a bit and think, ‘that would be funny if I made it happen in a different era, or if animals were discussing this,” he said.

“There’s sort of an absurdity to them, and with a cartoon, you have to understand the image and the caption very quickly. It has to be something that can get that idea across quickly.”

A large bound book, made up of three-quarter-inch plywood covers and spine, containing all the cartoons, will be at the gallery along with the show. Jensen calls it his “industrial-strength book.”

About a third of those cartoons are also included in Jensen’s other latest project, a self-published book full of cartoons and stories that go along with them. The book shares a title with the gallery show: Jack Jensen’s Industrial Strength Wit and Wisdom.

The stories come from Jensen’s parents’ generation and his own experiences, as well as his art and philosophy on life. The book contains 75 one-page stories, each facing two black-and-white cartoons that reflect some of the themes in the writing. At some point, Jensen said, he will have a book launch to celebrate the work.

Jensen’s cartoons are also featured each week in Saturday’s Daily Herald.

The exhibition opens at the Hicks Gallery today and runs until Nov. 23.. An opening reception featuring an artist talk will be held on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.