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  • Zandra Wolfgram

Meet Jason Lindblad~The Artist Behind the Moulin vin Rouge Creative

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

By Zandra Wolfgram

Jason Lindblad believes “art is for everyone.”

Owner of J.Leon Gallery + Studio a new, fine art destination located in Miramar Beach, Florida. J.Leon supports and promotes its artists while presenting guests with unique ways to engage with and uncover their next favorite work of art. Beyond art, J.Leon is home to a working ceramics studio and offers lively events and creative classes.

This 36-year-old illustrator brings pen and ink to life with delicate yet dramatic drawings inspired by Art Deco design, vintage fashion and theater.

Born and raised in Paducah, Kentucky, Lindblad has been a student of art since he was 5 years old. He attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he focused on graphic design, fiber and mixed media and continued his studies in illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Self-described as “unique, humble and nerdy,” he lives in Destin, where he works out of his studio creating traditional drawings, digital media illustrations, painted works and collage. He uses a process that combines both pen and ink, plus digital illustration to make stylized works inspired by artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Yoshitaka Amano, and Erte.

We caught up with Lindblad on a spring afternoon to ask him about his recent collaboration with Sinfonia Gulf Coast, what surprised about running a gallery, and why he has fixation with action figures. Here are highlights of that conversation:

SGC: We were thrilled you could collaborate with us in providing the original artwork for our Moulin vin Rouge-themed Crescendo! event. What was the experience like for you?

JL: Working with Sinfonia was such an exciting collaboration for me. I love Moulin Rouge with all the costuming, dance and excitement. I met Demetrius Fuller at one of our Sip N Stroll events. He said my art deco-style work reminded him of Moulin Rouge and asked me if I’d like to create original artwork for Crescendo! 2021.

I immediately said “Yes!” I think I went home that same night to my studio and put my headphones on with the Moulin Rouge soundtrack and began drawing that same evening. I was inspired by various costumes and scenes from the Baz Luhrmann film as well as classic can-can dancer and contemporary Moulin Rouge costuming. I ended up presenting them with five drawings to choose from, but I think I did about 16 total. I am so happy to be a part of this process and honored to be chosen as the poster illustrator. I hope that Crescendo 2021 is a wonderful success.

SGC: What do you do when you are not creating art?

JL: Collecting it. I love the stylized look of Kotobukiya sculptures of action figures. I started with four and now have 100. What I have is not a living room it’s a den, because it's a man cave with an entire wall of my collection. I also love Sailor Moon art from ‘80s and ‘90s.

SGC: Where did the idea to open a gallery come from?

JL: I spent 10 years in Atlanta working as a brand manager for Gamestop and Pottery Barn Teen. I moved back to be closer to family and to focus on my art. I worked at the Cultural Arts Alliance Foster Gallery as a gallery attendant, which gave me time to think about what I really wanted to do. It has always been my dream to open a gallery, and the time was right.

SGC: What is the story behind J. Leon?

JL: J, is of course, my initial and Leon is my middle name. It’s sort of a nickname. While in college in Chicago. I was on the subway with some fashion student friends one day and they said, “From now on, you must go by J. Leon.” People always mispronounced it in school. I didn’t like signing my last name to my work. It was easier to sign my work J. Leon. So, that’s why it’s called J. Leon Gallery+Studio.

SGC: You’ve said the gallery is a family affair. How so?

JL: Shawn Tomasello, who is my mother, is a partner. She handles the back end of the business—insurance, legal and administration. I see to the gallery direction and day-to-day operation, artist relations, customer service, and we have a team that helps us with our marketing.

SGC: You opened J.Leon during the Pandemic, how was that?

JL: We bought the building in February 2020 and delayed the opening to June 2020. Once we were open the pandemic didn’t stop the ceramic studio from blowing up. People have been very receptive to the gallery. They are very surprised, pleased and complimentary. They are happy we are offering a gallery space in the Destin area, where people are in need of a gallery.

SGC: What do you like most about running a gallery?

JL: Interacting with the artists, guests and curating the shows.

SGC: Have there been surprises?

JL: I did not expect how art is somewhat unexpected. You never know what people are going to be connected to. There’s no particular formula to what people will like and buy.

SGC: How many artists have you showcased and what is the range of the work you show?

JL: We started with nine, and now we’re up to 13. We have a goal of 15 in the next rotation. We have prints from $20 to $95 and then original art from $200 to $5,000.

SGC: How does the submission process work?

JL: We have a submission form on website. Our visual committee reviews all applications and determines where to extend an existing artist or to introduce a new artist. We show artists in rotation, which is about three to four months. When a piece of art sells, we provide 60 percent commission to the artist.

SGC: Tell us about your programs.

JL: We have a monthly Sip N Stroll event on Fridays that is open to all. We have a 6-week ceramics course open to beginners and we have an open studio membership for advanced students who have taken multiple courses.

SGC: What does J. Leon bring to the EC arts scene?

JL: We hope we bring a sense of style to the Emerald Coast. Art is for everyone and we are really trying to bring that to the EC with our gallery. We bring a variety of styles, subject matters, and mediums so that patrons have the opportunity to experience all different types of work by local and regional artists. We offer events and live demos that attract people in and give them a chance to meet artists and experience creativity.

SGC: What do you wish for the EC arts scene?

JL: I wish that more artists would continue to not only create, but put themselves out there to expose themselves to galleries. A community that helps to unify artists and offers places to showcase their art would really help. Organizations like the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation and Sinfonia Gulf Coast working together is a great way for the EC arts scene to thrive.

Save the Date!

This year, the Crescendo! Vintner Dinners will be hosted at various elegant venues (private homes and restaurants) on Friday, April 30 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $295 per person.

The signature main event for Crescendo! is set for Sunday, May 2 at 11:30 a.m. at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. Tickets are $150 per person. With a “Moulin [vin] Rouge” theme, this heartening event—swathed in a luscious backdrop of all things rouge (red)—promises to be pure revelry. Feel free to join in the party by channeling “19th century Paris” and/or adding a touch of “rouge” to your ensemble. Yes, you can-can!

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